Hazrat Raabia Basri’s parents were so poor that, there was no oil in the house to light a lamp, not a cloth even to wrap her with.
She was the fourth child in the family. Here mother requested her husband to borrow some oil from a neighbor. But he had resolved in his life never to ask for anything from anyone except the Creator; so he pretended to go to the neighbor’s door and so gently knocked at it that he might no be heard and answered, and therefor returned home empty-handed. He told his wife that the neighbor did not open the door, so he came disappointed. In the nigh the Prophet (S.A.W.W) appeared to him in a dream and told him, “Your newly-born daughter is a favorite of the Lord, and shall lead many Muslims to the Path of Deliverance. You should approach the Ameer of Basra and present him with a letter in which should be written this message, ‘You offer Darood to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.W) one hundred times every night and four hundred times every Thursday night. However, since you failed to observe the rule last Thursday, as a penalty you must pay the bearer four hundred dinaars’.” Hazrat Raabia Basri’s father got up and went straight to the Ameer, with ears of joy rolling down his cheeks. The Ameer was delighted on receiving the message and knowing that he was in the eyes of the Prophet (S.A.W.W), he distributed in gratitude one thousand dinaars to the poor and paid with joy four hundred to Hazrat Raabia Basri’s father and requested him to come to him whenever he needed anything as he will benefit very much by the visit of such a soul dear to the Lord.”
After the death of her father, a famine overtook Basra and she parted from her sisters. Once she was accompanying a caravan that fell into the hands of robbers. The chief of the robbers took Hazrat Raabia Basri in custody as an article of loot, and taking her to the market as a slave. The new master of Hazrat Raabia Basri used to take hard services from her.
One day she was going on an errand. Whilst passing a street a vagabond pursued her. She ran to save herself from him, and in so doing, her foot slipped and she fell down and broke her arm. She thereupon prayed to the Lord, “I am a poor orphan and a slave. Now my hand too is broken. However, I do not mind these things if Thou be pleased with me. But make it manifest to me that You are pleased with me.” The Divine Voice in reply said, “Never mind all these sufferings. On the Day of Judgment your shall be accorded a status that shall be the envy of the angelseven.” Then she returned to her master’s service. After this incident, it became the daily practice with her to pass the whole night in prayers, after she had finished her household jobs. She used to pass many a day observing Fast.
Incidentally, once the master of the house woke up in the middle of the night, and was attracted by the pathetic voice in which Hazrat Raabia Basri was praying to her Lord. She was entreating in these terms: “Lord! You know well that my keen desire to carry out Your commandments and to serve Thee with all my hear, O light of my eyes. If I were free, I would pass the whole day and night in prayers. But what should I do when You have made me a slave of a human being?” he say that a Divine candle hung in the air without support in her room and the whole cell was flooded with light. At once he felt that it was sacrilegious to keep such a great saint in service, and instead decided to serve her himself. In them morning he called her and told her his decision that thenceforward he would serve her and she should dwell there as the mistress of the house and if she insisted on leaving the house he was willing to release her from bondage. She told him that she wanted to leave the house to carry into her worship in solitude. This, the master granted and she left the house.
Once Hazrat Raabia Basri proceeded on the holy pilgrimage to Mecca. She carried her luggage on an old donkey. It fell dead on the way. Her companions volunteered to carry her luggage. But she refused observing that she had set forth for the Hajj (pilgrimage) not under their shelter but under the Lord’s. She was left alone and the caravan passed on to the next stage. Then Hazrat Raabia Basri prayed to the Lord, “O Master of the worlds! I am a desolate, meek and poor woman. You first invited me to Thy House, Ka’ba, and now killed my donkey leaving me alone in the wilderness.” At once, the donkey revived. She put her luggage on it and proceeded on the pilgrimage. When she neared Ka’ba, she sat in prayers and said, “I am but a handful of dust and the Holy Ka’ba is a strong House. My object is that Ye meet me direct without any mediation (bew?sta).” The Divine Voice replied, “Raabia, should I turn the world topsy-turvy for thy sake so that the blood of all the creatures be recorded in thy name in the scroll of destiny? Dost thou not know that Moses sought to see Us? We cast a ray of our Effulgence merely and he passed into ecstasy, while the Mount Sinai was turned into a heap of black ash.”
Next time when Hazrat Raabia Basri proceeded on a pilgrimage to Ka’ba, and was passing through the wilderness, she observed that Ka’ba, the House of God, was coming to welcome her. Seeing it she said, “What shall I do with the House; I want to meet the Master of the House––the Lord. Dost not the Lord say that he who advances a step towards Him, He goes out to meet him ten steps? I can not be pleased with seeing the Ka’ba; I seek vision.
At this time, Hazrat Ibraaheem Adham was also on his way to Ka’ba and it was his practice to offer Nam?z (prayers) at every step on his way. On his arrival he found that the Ka’ba had disappeared. He was very much disappointed. The Divine Voice thereupon told him, “The Ka’ba is gone to welcome Hazrat Raabia Basri.” When the Ka’ba returned and Hazrat Raabia Basri arrived leaning on her staff sue to old age, Hazrat Ibraaheem approached her and said, “Raabia, why do you by your queer acts create hue and cry in the world?” Hazrat Raabia Basri replied, “I do noting of the sort; rather it is you who, to gain publicity, thus reach Ka’ba in fourteen years.” Hazrat Ibraaheem admitted that he did offer prayers at every step of his journey, she said, “You covered the way by saying Nam?z whilst I have covered the way through meekness and humility.”
Next year Hazrat Raabia Basri, again, started on a visit to the Ka’ba, and prayed to the Lord, “Grant me Thy vision.” And saying this she started on the journey by rolling dust all the way. The Voice of God thereupon said, “Raabia, beware: if We shall appear before thee in full effulgence, you shall be turned to ashes.” Hazrat Raabia Basri said, “I have not the courage to withstand the splendor and majesty of Thy face. Grant me Fuqr (asceticism) that is dear to Thee.” The Divine Voice replied, “You are not fit for it. That honor is reserved for men (males) who have died to their self (annihilated their ego and desires) their in lifetime for My sake and between whom and Me there is left a distance no more than that of a hair’s breadth. We bring such persons first very close to Us and then cast them away at a distance, when they strive to attain to Us. Raabia, between thee and Us there are still seventy veils. Not until they are removed and thou enter with a true heart in Our quest, it is futile for thee to ask the status of Fuqr from Us.”
Then the Divine Voice was again heard asking asceticism to look up in front of her. She looked. Lo! The whole scene was changed. She found herself witnessing an extraordinary sight. She saw held aloft in the air a surging ocean filled with blood, rolling with great speed. The Divine Voice said, “Raabia, this is the blood that has flowed from the eyes of Our lovers in the pangs of separation from Us. And, in spited of all the trials and afflictions to which they have been subjected, they have not budged an inch from the Path nor have they craved for anything from Us. In the very first step that they took in the path, they transcended all the desires and ambitions of this world and the next, and so secluded themselves from the world that none knew about them. Such was their distasted for publicity in the world.” Thereupon Hazrat Raabia Basri remarked, “Lord! Let me then stay at the Ka’ba.” This was refused to her. She then was permitted to return to Basra where she passed the rest of her life in solitude and prayers.
One day, Hazrat Raabia Basri was sitting in her cottage ready to partake of her meals when a derviesh arrived. Hazrat Raabia Basri, with a view to entertain him, placed the two loaves, which she had prepared for her meals before him. The derviesh was surprised, as there was nothing for Hazrat Raabia Basri to eat. Shortly he noticed that a lady came carrying some loaves in a dish, and offered them to Hazrat Raabia Basri saying that her mistress had sent them to her. Hazrat Raabia Basri asked the number of loaves she had brought. She replied, “Eighteen.” Hazrat Raabia Basri did not accept them and asked her to take them back to her mistress. She went away and returned after a time. Hazrat Raabia Basri accepted them when she was told that they were twenty. The derviesh asked the reason of Hazrat Raabia Basri’s first refusing and then accepting. She said, “The Lord has said in the Qur’an that he who offers in His name a gift, He recompenses him tenfold. So I accepted the gift only when the words of the Scripture were fulfilled.”
One day Hazrat Raabia Basri was preparing her loaves. She remembered that there was no vegetable with her. Immediately some onions fell from the roof. She kicked them aside, with the remark, “Satan! Away with thy trick. Does my Lord keep an onion shop?” Hazrat Raabia Basri said, “I have never asked for anything from anybody but from God and accepted nothing from anybody abut from Him.”
One day Hazrat Basri saw Hazrat Raabia Basri surrounded y wild beasts, which were casting affectionate glances at her. But Hazrat Hasan Basri approached her, they all ran away. He asked, “Why did they ran away?” In reply asked Hazrat Raabia Basri, “What have you eaten today?” He replied, “Meat” Hazrat Raabia Basri said, ”Since you eat their meat, so they ran away, I take only dray loaf.”
One day when Hazrat Raabia Basri went to see Hazrat Hasan Basri, he was bitterly weeping in separation of the Lord. So great was the amount of tears that they were flowing down the gutter of his house. Seeing that sight, Hazrat Raabia Basri rebuked Hazrat Hasan Basri thus, “Withhold this display of feelings that thy interior may become full with His love and thy heart be drowned in it, and you may not be able to discover its whereabouts.”
Somebody asked Hazrat Raabia Basri’s hand in marriage. She replied, “He alone is entitled to marry who owns himself and has an existence which is his own. But I am neither the master of my body not of my life. They are the properties of my Lord. Ask Him for my hand (in marriage).
Hazrat Hasan Basri asked Hazrat Raabia Basri how she could attain to tht spiritual greatness. She replied, “I forgot all existence (became non-existent) in His remembrances.”
Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W.W) appeared to Hazrat Raabia Basri in a dream and questioned her if she remembered him as a friend. She replied, “Who does not recognize you as such? But what should I do? The love of the Lord has so filled the pores of my body that no room is lift therein of loving you or hating Satan.”
People asked Hazrat Raabia Basri, “Do you see the Lord Whom you worship?” She replied, “If I do not see Him, I would not worship.”