Rabi’a Basri: The Mystic and Her Fellow-Saints in Islam

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Item Code: NAH246
Author: Margaret Smith
Language: English
Edition: 2013
ISBN: 9788171512363
Pages: 238
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 460 gm
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Book Description

About the Book

It is an humble and authentic presentation of the life story of Rabi’a Basri, who was one of the greatest Sufi saints in Islam. She gained high position and reputation amon her fellow-saints of her time. Her life of poverty, dedication, full dependence upon Allah’s Will, demureness, desirelessness, and proudlessness are good ideals and lessons for humanity. No doubt, shewasa renowned saint, but no more have been written about her life. The authoress has taken great pains in collecting authentic information about her life and teachings and presented a comparative study together with her fellow-saints and estimated her with great honour. She has given information of some women saints in India who gained Allah’s favour and have been benefiting humanity from a long time.

Simple language, lucid style and authentic references of this book will satisfy the readers.


Rabi’a of Basra, the subject of this memoir, has long been known to students of Sufism, and to a lesser extent to those interested in Mysticism generally, as a unique personality among the early Sufis, one who, in spite of her early date-she died in A.D. 80l-was a true mystic. The material’ for this account of her life and teachings is derived from one or two short biographical notices and from scattered references to be found in Arab and Persian writers on Sufism and is the first biography of this early Muslim saint to appear, which aims at being complete so far as the sources at present available make this possible.

In the compiling of this biography, originally undertaken for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the University of London. I have been indebted for valuable references to Professor L. Masstgnon, of the College de France, and to Prof. Ritter of Constantinople, and I take this opportunity of offering my thanks to both of these distinguished scholars.

My grateful thanks are, due also to Sir Thomas Arnold, from whom I have had constant help and advice in the writing of this memoir, and to Professor Nicholson of Cambridge, whose writings first inspired me to study Sufism, and whose unrivalled knowledge of the subject has been most generously placed at my disposal for the purposes of this book.



Preface V
Survey of Sources xi
Part One  
Chapter I  
The place of women among the sufis. High place given to Rabi’a of Basra, Her birth and early years. Period in slavery. Release and devotion to the ascetic life. Legend of Rabi’a and Ibrahim b. Adham 1
Chapter II  
Offers of marriage. Choice of celibacy. Her associates. Hasan of Basra. Rabah al-Oays. Sufyan al-Thawri. Dhu al-Nun. Women associates. 10
Chapter III  
Asceticism of Rabi’a. Fasting. Dependence on God. Renunciation. Resignation to the Will of God. Prayer-life 20
Chapter IV  
The miracles of Muslim saints. Story of a thief. Miracle of the twenty loaves. Miracle of the bird and the onion. Rabi’a’s friendship with the wild animals. Miraculous flight of locusts. Restoration of a dead camel to life. Flying on a prayer-mat. Miracul 32
Chapter V  
Rabi’a’s declining years. Her attitude towards death. Rabi’a’s last illness. Visits from her friends. Her last moments. Appearance in visions after her death 39
Part Two  
Chapter VI  
Estimate of Rabta’s teaching by the sufi writers. Brief outline of Sufi doctrine. The Way and its stages. The Goal 46
Chapter VII  
Repentance. The Sufi doctrine. Rabi’a’s teaching. Anecdotes of Ibn Mansur and Sufyan al- Thawri. Rabi’a’s view of Sin. Patience. Al-Qushayri’s and al-Ghazali’s view of Patience as essential to Faith. Rabi’a’s practice and teaching. Gratitude. Al- Qushayri 51
Chapter VIII  
Hope and Fear. Teaching of al-Hujwiri and al-Sarraj. AI- Qushayri’s definition of Hope. Eschatological teaching of the Sufis. Rabi’a’s loftier conceptions 63
Chapter IX  
Poverty. Sufi estimation of the poor. Comparison with Christian doctrine. Rabi’a and the Poverty of the adept. Renunciation. Views of Sufi writers. Merging of the personal will in the Will of God. Dependence upon God. Rabi’a’s teaching on other-worldlines 71
Chapter X  
Love, including satisfaction, longing and intimacy. Satisfaction, two-sided. AI-Hujwiri’s classification of the satisfied. Longing. Abu Sa’id’s conception of longing. Intimacy. The Sufi conception of Love. Al-Hujwiri’s view. The effect of Love. The Vision 85
Part Three  
Chapter XI  
The position of woman in Muslim lands in pre-Islarntc and early Islamic times. Principle of female descent and the woman’s dominance in mar- riage. Independent spirtt of Bedouin women. Buhaysa bint Aws b. Harttha. Story of Salma bint ‘Amr, ‘A’isha bint Ya 108
Chapter XII  
The position of the woman saint. Umm Haram of Cyprus. Rabi’a bint Isma’il of Syria. Mu’adha al-Adawiyya of Basra. Sha wana the Persian. The Lady Nafisa. Ishi Nili of Nishapur, The Shaykhas. Fatima, daughter of Shah -Jahan. ‘A’tsha bint M. b. ‘Abd Allah of 133
Chapter XIII  
Celibacy in Islam. Orthodox views. sufi preference for the celibate life. Celibacy and the monastic life among women. Early convents for women in Egypt. In Makkah and North Africa 160
Chapter XIV  
The Communion of Saints in Islam. Visions of Rabi’a and Sha’wana after their death. Reverence for the shrines of saints. The tombs of Fatima and the women of the Prophet’s family. Shrines of women saints in Syria. Tombs of Indian women saints. Shrine of L 171
Chapter XV  
The cult of the saints in modern Islam. The Dervish orders. The Qadiriyya. The Rifa’iyya. The Khalwatiyya. The Suhrawardiyya. The Mevlevis. Local orders. The Chishti of India. The Sanussi. Organisations of the orders. Women adherents of Dervish orders. De 185
List of Authors Quoted 199
Index 205


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