1. On the night Hadhrat Rabiah (rahmatullah alayha) was born, the house was in complete darkness. Her father was unable to buy even oil for the lamp on account of his poverty. There was no garments to wrap the new born babe. She was the fourth daughter hence was named Rabiah (i.e. the fourth). Her mother asked her father (Rabiah's father) to go to a neighbour for some oil. Rabiah's father had vowed never to ask anything from anyone. However, to satisfy his wife, he went to the neighbour's house, knocked on the door and came away before anyone opened it. On his return, he told his wife that the door was not opened. Grief-stricken he fell asleep. In a dream he saw Rasulullah ( صلى الله عايه وسالم) telling him:
"Do not grieve, this girl born to you is exceptionally fortunate and holy. By her intercession 70,000 people of my Ummah will be forgiven. Go to the governor of Basrah and convey to him this message written on a page:
"Every night you recite 100 Durood on me and on Friday night 400 times. Last Friday night you forget to recite the Durood. As a compensation for this omission give this person 400 dinars."
Rabiah's father woke up crying. He wrote out the message and went to meet the governor. He handed the letter to a guard. When the governor read the letter he was moved by the fact that Rasulullah ( صلى الله عايه وسالم) had remembered him. He ordered 10,000 dirhams to be given to the poor as a token of gratitude. He went out to meet Rabiah's father. After presenting him with the 400 dinars, he said: "In future whatever your needs are, come to me without any hesitation."
2. After she came of age, her parents passed away. There was a great famine in Basrah. The sisters were separated. A cruel man abducted her. He enslaved her and finally sold her cheaply. All day long she worked for her master and spend the night in ibaadat. One night her master woke up and heard her supplicating. When he went to investigate he saw a lamp miraculously hanging in mid-air above her lighting up the entire room. She was saying: "O Allah! You know that my heart's desire is to serve You, and the light of my eyes is in Your service. Since You have subjected me to be in the service of people, I am late for Your service."
Rabiah's master resolved to set her free. In the morning, he emancipated her and said: "You are free to go. If you choose to stay here, you are welcome. However, then I shall serve you." Taking permission she departed to spend her time in the ibaadat of Allah Ta'ala.
3. Once while she was in the service of her master she was sent on an errand. Along the way a man accosted her. In fright she fled, slipped and broke her hand. Praying to Allah Ta'ala she cried: "O Allah! I am forlorn, without mother and father. Now my hand too is broken. But I do not care for these calamities if You are pleased with me. Are You pleased or displeased with me?"
A voice called to her: "On the Day of Qiyaamah even the Muqarrab (very close) Angels will envy your rank."
4. Daily she performed a thousand raka'ts Nafl Salaat.
5. When she went for Hajj she took along an emaciated donkey on which was loaded her few belongings. The ass died along the journey. The people accompanying her offered to carry her belongings, but she refused, saying: "Proceed! I did not come relying on you." The caravan continued, leaving her behind. With her perfect trust in Allah Ta'ala she supplicated for His aid. Even before completing her dua, the donkey came to life. Rabiah continued her journey and reached Makkah Muazzamah.
6. Rabiah in her yearning for Allah, prayed to be shown His Vision. A Voice said to her:"If you desire Me, I shall reveal a manifestation (Tajalli) of Myself and in a moment you will be reduced to ash."
Rabiah said: "O Allah! I lack the power for Your Tajalli. I wish for the rank of Faqr (i.e. an extremely lofty spiritual status of divine proximity)."
The Voice said: "O Rabiah! Faqr is the famine of My Wrath. We have reserved it exclusively for those Men (Auliyaa) who have completely reached Us. There remains not even the distance of a hair between them and Us. At that juncture, We rebuff them and distance them from Our Proximity. Inspite of his, they do not lose hope in Us. They again commence their journey towards Us. While this is their condition, you are still wrapped in the veils of time. As long as you are with the folds of these veils and have not entered into Our Path with a true heart, it is improper for you to even mention Faqr."
The Voice then commanded Rabiah to lift her gaze towards the heaven. As she complied, she observed a vast rolling ocean of blood suspended in space. The Voice said:"This is the ocean of blood of tears of My Lovers who are lost in My Absorption. This is their first stage (in their journey to reach Allah)."
7. Once, Rabiah overcome with tiredness, fell asleep. A thief entered and took her shawl, but he was unable to find his way out. When he replaced the shawl, he saw the exit. Again he took the shawl and lost the way. He replaced the shawl and saw the way out. He repeated this process several times. Then he heard someone saying:
"Why bring a calamity on yourself? She whose shawl this is, has handed herself over to another Being. Even Shaitaan cannot approach her. A thief is not able to steal her shawl. Leave it and depart."
8. Once when Rabiah was on a mountain, the wild beasts of the jungle gathered around her and stared at her in wonder. Coincidentally, Hadhrat Hasan Basri appeared on the scene. All the animals scattered and disappeared into the jungle. In surprise he said:
"The animals fled when they saw me. Why did they stay with you?"
Rabiah asked: "What did you eat today?"
Hasan Basri: "Meat and bread."
Rabiah: "When you have eaten meat, why should they not flee?"
9. It was said to Rabiah: "Hadhrat Hasan says that if on the Day of Qiyaamah he is deprived of Allah's Vision for even a moment, he will lament so much that the inmates of Jannat will take pity on him."
Rabiah said: "True, but this claim is appropriate for only a person who does not forget Allah Ta'ala here on earth for a single moment."
10. People asked: "Why do you not take a husband?"
Rabiah responded: "I am saddled with three concerns. If you remove these worries from me, I shall take a husband. One: Tell me, will I die with Imaan? Two: On the Day of Qiyaamah will my Record of Deeds be given in my right or left hand? Three: On the Day of Qiyaamah will I be among the people of the right side or the left side?" The people said that they were unable to give her assurances regarding these issues. She said: "A woman who has these fears has no desire for a husband."
11. She was asked: "From whence have you come and whiter are you going?"
Rabiah said: "I came from that world and I am returning to that world." The People asked: "What are you doing in this world?" Rabiah let out a cry of lament. They asked: "Why are you lamenting?" Rabiah said: "I obtain my rizq from that world while I am doing the work of this world."
12. When asked for the cause of her constant crying, Rabiah said: "I fear separation from Allah Ta'ala. I fear that at the time of maut I may be rebuffed and it be announced: "You do not deserve to be in Our Presence."
13. She was asked: "When is Allah pleased with a person?" Rabiah replied: "When he expresses gratitude for the effort (on His Path) just as he expresses gratitude for bounties."
14. Rabiah said: "As long as Allah Ta'ala does not grant the taufeeq, a person will not be able to repent for sins. (Thus, sincere repentance indicates acceptance of the taubah.)
15. "As long as man's heart is not alert, his other limbs cannot find the path of Allah. An alert heart is a heart lost in divine absorption. Such a heart is not in need of the aid of other limbs. This stage is called Fana (annihilation)."
16. "Only verbal istighfaar is the act of liars. When a vain person makes taubah, he should again make taubah (for the sin of vanity)."
17. Once Rabiah kept seven fasts and spent the entire night in Ibaadat. On the seventh day someone presented her a bowl of milk. When she went to fetch the lamp, a cat came and drank the milk. She decided to break fast with water. When she brought a cup of water, the lamp was extinguished. As she lifted the cup, it slipped and broke. She drew a sigh and said: "O Allah! What are You doing to me?" A Voice said: "O Rabiah! If you desire the bounties of the world, We shall bestow it to you, but then We shall remove Our love from your heart. Our love and worldly bounties cannot coexist in one heart." Henceforth, Rabiah severed all her worldly hopes and her attitude was like that of a person in his death throes. Each morning she supplicated: "O Allah! Keep me engrossed in You and do not allow the people of the world to divert me."
18. Once when Hadhrat Hasan Basri went to visit Hadhrat Rabiah, he found one of the wealthy and prominent citizens of Basrah standing with a bag of money, weeping at her door. On enquiring, he said: "I have brought this gift for Rabiah. I know she will refuse it, hence, I am crying. Do intercede for me. Perhaps she will accept it." Hasan Basri went inside and delivered the message. Rabiah said: "Since I have recognized Allah, I have renounced the world. I am not aware of its source–whether halaal or haraam?"
19. Maalik Bin Dinaar went to visit Rabiah. He found in her home only a partly broken jug which she used for wudhu and drinking water; a very old straw-mat on which she slept and a brick which she used as a pillow. Maalik Bin Dinaar said: "I have many affluent friends. Shall I ask them to bring some items for you?"
Rabiah said: "O Maalik! Is my Provider, your Provider and the provider of the wealthy not the same Being?" Maalik said: "Yes."
Rabiah: "What, has He forgotten about the needs of the poor on account of their poverty while he remembers the needs of the wealthy?" Maalik Bin Dinaar: "It is not so."
Rabiah: "When He never forgets anyone, why should we remind Him? He has wished this condition for me and I am pleased with it because it is His pleasure."
20. Rabiah supplicated:
"O Allah! My duty and my desire on earth are Your remembrance and in the Aakhirah, Your Vision. You are the Master."
"O Allah! Maintain the presence (i.e. concentration) of my heart or accept my ibaadat devoid of concentration."
21. When her time to depart from earth was near, the illustrious Mashaa-ikh gathered by her.
She said: "Go away and leave place for the Angels." They all went out and closed the door. While they were waiting outside, they heard from within a voice reciting:
"O Soul at Rest! Return to your Rabb."
For a long while thereafter there was silence. When they went inside they discovered that Rabiah's soul had taken flight from this world and had reached Allah.
22. In a dream someone asked her: "What transpired when Munkar and Nakier came to You?" Rabiah said: "When they asked me: "Who is your Rabb?", I said: "Go back! Say to Allah: When You had never forgotten this weak woman despite Your remembrance of entire creation, how can she forget You when on earth You were her only remembrance? Why do you send Angels to question her?"
23. Muhammad Aslam Toosi and Nu'maa Tartoosi (rahmatullah alayhima) stood at her grave side. One of them said:
"O Rabiah! During your lifetime you made bold and audacious claims of having renounced the world. Tell us, what has transpired now with you?" From inside the grave, Hadhrat Rabiah (rahmatullah alayha) spoke:"May Allah grant me barkat in what I have seen and am seeing (i.e. of the wonders of the spiritual realm)."