Rabi’ah Al Adawiyah is well-known as sufi in “tasawuf” world. She lived in ‘zuhud’ life and she spent her life to worship Allah. Her love and life was only for Allah. She never got married because she had no love to others.
“I love You, Allah, with two loves. Love because of the passion and love because You deserve to be loved”
She was born in Basrah (known as Iraq) from poor family. They lived miserable with four daughters. Her father, Ismail expected to have a boy as the hope of family. But they were rather disappointed when the fourth child was born. They named the baby Rabi’ah which meant the fourth. When Rabi’ah was born, her family lived in misery although Basrah city is very wealthy even there was no lamp when the baby born in the dark night. A light came from the baby born without any help. After the fourth daughter was born, Ismail had a dream. In that dream, he was visited by Rasulullah pbuh. Rasulullah asked him not to be sad of the fourth daughter’s birth, because one day she would be a respected woman.
Rasulullah (pbuh). also asked Ismail to write a letter to the King of Basrah at that time, Isa Bazan, and the bring it to the King by himself. The letter said, “You had done your prayer one hundred ‘raka’at’ every night and four hundred ‘raka’at’ every Thursday night. But in the last Thursday night, you forgot to your prayer. That’s why you have to give four hundred dinars to this messenger, as the fine of your mistake.”
The King Bazan felt astonished receiving that letter, because there were only some people knew his habit in the night. Then he gave his fine four hundred dinars to Ismail. This fact made Ismail believe the truth of his dream that his fourth daughter, Rabi’ah was a worth gift from God.
Rabi’ah grew up in the neighborhood of pious Adiy clan. Her father often brought her to Masjiid, in the frontier of Basrah. He did it to protect his daughter from the bad influence of city life. Beside, he wanted to worship more intensively. Because of the good neighborhood and education, Rabi’ah the little girl was able to say the astonishing words to her family. She said that they had to be patience in poverty, being hungry in this world was better than being tortured in hell because of eating the forbidden food. The sadness and sorrow came into her live when her father’s death then her mother not longer after. Rabi’ah and hr bug istes were still so young when their parents dead. The long dry season in Basrah also forced them to find any job.
When Rabi’ah was walking alone in the city, someone captured and kidnapped her and then she was sold to become a slave. Her body was getting weaker and thinner. She had to do many hard works. But her spirit was never weak and broken. The repeatedly sorrow made Rabi’ah get closer to Allah. She was able to forget about her sufferings and misery. She had so many questions in her mind. Why is the man’s slavery still exist in this world? Doesn’t human have the same position as Allah’s worshipper? What makes somebody so special till he thinks that he deserved to enslave human? Why is human so heartless to rob and trample down the honor of Allah’s creature? There was so many question she had to find the answer by herself.
The Rabi’ah perseverance in worship finally opened up her master’s head, by Allah’s permit. One night, the master heard Rabi’ah’s praying intentionally and saw a light overhung her head. The master liberate her after seeing the astonishing.
Rabi’ah didn’t know what to do to fulfill her basic needs. She wanted to sing and play the flute in ‘Majelis zikir’ (halaqah) as the mediator to worship and thank God, she came to Masjiid from morning till evening. But she doubted to do the job, so she asked advices from some canonist. She also did istikarah prayer, until she felt the stable heart to do the job.
From her job Rabi’ah got enough money just to fulfill her sober life. She wanted her life far from the luxurious of worldliness. Afterward when she became a famous and educated woman in Basrah, there were many of her students and friends offered her many facilities. But she refused it immediately; she kept on spending her life in sobriety.
“See, all mankind fall asleep, but this sinny Rabi’ah still standing in the presence of You. Please, I beg You to gaze upon me so that I keep awaking for the sake of my submission”
Rabi’ah was favored by Allah the clearest of mind and the smart brain. It was obvious when she was being a mentor. She did not sing and play the flute in “Majelis Zikir’ any more. Her sober house was visited by many people who wanted to learn Islam. They came all the time and many of them were not ordinary people. They were Hasan Al Basri, Sofyan Ats-Saury, Malik bin Dinar, Abdul Wahid bin Zaid, and many more. The canonist in ‘sufi and ‘fiqh’. The house of Rabi’ah changed its function became the non formal school, the place to raise knowledge.
She had two specialties in representation the tuition. First, her fluent tongue, and second, the clear meaning. Sometimes her words attached on brain, sometimes broke through the spirit of the listeners. Sofyan Ats-Tsaury often said that he got a great wisdom and advantage whenever he came to the ‘majelis’ of Rabi’ah. Hasan Al Basri admitted that Rabi’ah was the one who gave him the most motivation to increase his faith to Allah and to be more sincere in worshipping Him.
Sofyan ats-Tsaury ever asked her: “ Will you get marry someday?”
“Marriage is necessity to whom has any choice. I have no option except to worship Allah” Said Rabi’ah. “I have given my life to Allah, and because I can’t afford to create the harmonious between marriage and loving Allah (Mahabbatullah).
There was one of her student who live together with her. The student’s name was Abdah binti Abi Syawal. She learned tasawuf from Rabi’ah and she could tell the real life of Rabi’ah very clear. There was also another student, Masma binti Ashim and the best friend of Rabi’ah, Hayyunah.
Rabi’ah finally could go to through the way of ‘ma’rifat’. It was because of the prayer she offered up from her pious heart and only directed to Allah. Rabia’h did ‘zikrullah’ all the time and she was sincere in doing all her deed. She always accepted the destiny that Allah gave positively. All her chance and ability were always used to add her knowledge. Her common sense and heart worked together. The common sense accepted and filled, the heart and soul believed and relied.
“‘I beg for Allah’s protection from everything that makes me busy and neglect to worship Him and from every obstructions that evade my relationship with Him.”
Ummu Khair binti Ismail, passed away in 135 Hijriyah, at the age of eighty. Her body was buried in Baitul Maqdis. Although she had gone, she left many lessons to who wants to worship Allah with all heart and soul. Innalillahi wa inna ilaihi raajiuun.