Rabi'a Basri, The Mystic: The Life & Work of Rabi'a & other Women Saints in Islam,
[A5] Hardback - 236 pages,
by Dr. Maragaret Smith,
*Published by Adam Publishers, India.
Focusing on Rabi'a of Basra, may Allah be pleased with her, a woman of unique personality and a true
mystic, Margaret Smith's comprehensive book highlights women's
contributions to the rich heritage of Islam. Surveying the female
saints of the Muslim world, her authoritative work provides a unique
insight into a lesser-known aspect of the development of Islamic
From the back page:
'' The Women saints... certainly represent the greatest height to which Muslim womanhood has attained, and in reverence accorded them by Muslim men and the example which they offer to women lies a real hope for the attainment of higher standard, religious and social, for Muslim women of today.''
So writes Margaret Smith in this fascinating and scholarly work on Rabi'a of Basra, may Allah be pleased with her, the early Muslim saint and true mystic who died in the year 801 C.E. A complete biography of this woman of unique personality did not appear until Dr. Smith, a distinguished scholar of Sufism, published this authoritative account of her life and teachings.
About the Author : Margaret Smith, a distinguished scholar of Sufism, obtained her
Doctorate from the University of London, and is the author of several
books on the subject of mysticism in Islam.
Table of Contents :
---Survey of Sources.
---Chapter [I]. The Place of Women amongst the Sufi's. 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 ibn Adham.
---Chapter [II]. Offers of marriage. Choice of celibacy. Her associates. Hasan of Basra, Rabah al-Qays. Sufyan al-Thawri. Dhu'al-Nun. Women associates.
---Chapter [III]. Asceticism of Rabia, Fasting. Dependence on God. Renunciation. Resignation to the Will of God. Prayer & Life.
---Chapter [IV]. The miracles of Muslim Saints. Story of a thief. Miracle of the twenty loaves. Miracle of the Bird and the Onion. Rabi'as' freindship with the wild animals. Miraculous flight of locusts. Restoration of a dead camel to life. Flying on a prayer mat. Miraculous provision of light. The pot that boiled without a fire.
---Chapter [V]. Rabi'as declining years. Her attitude towards death. Rabi'as last illness. Visits from her freinds. Her last moments. Appearance in visions after her death.
---Chapter [VI]. Estimate of Rabi'as teaching by the Sufi writers. Brief outline of Sufi doctrine. The Way and it's stages. The Goal.
---Chapter [VII]. Repentance. The Sufi doctrine. Rabi'as teaching. Anecdotes of ibn Mansur and Sufyan al-Thawri. Rabi'as view of sin. Patience. Imam al-Qushayri and Imam al-Ghazalis' view of patience as essential to faith. Rabi'as practice and teaching. Gratitude. Al-Qushayri's definition. Rabi'as teaching. No pantheism in her views.
---Chapter [VIII]. Hope and Fear. Teaching of Sayyad Ali Hujwiri and Al-Sarraj. Al-Qushayri's definition of Hope. Eschatological teachings of the Sufi's. Rabi'as loftier conceptions.
---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'as teaching on other-worldliness. Account of Rabi'as vision.
---Chapter [X]. Love, including satisfaction, longing and intimacy. Satisfaction, two-sided. Al-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 beautiful. The attainment of Union. Rabi'as doctrine of disinterested love. Her teaching on Satisfaction. On Longing. Her verses on Intimacy. Various accounts of her teaching on Love. Her verses on the Two Loves. Abu Talib's commentary on three verses. Al-Ghazali's explanation of the verses. Comparison of the Sufi view of the Vision with that of Plotinus. Summary of Rabi'as teaching on Love. The attainment of the Goal.
---Part Three :
---Chapter [XI]. The position of women in Muslim lands in pre-Islamic and early Islamic times. Principle of female descent and the woman's dominance in marriage. Independent spirit of Bedouin women. Buhaysa bint Aws bint Haritha. Story of Salma bint 'Amr. 'Aisha bint Yahya. 'Aisha bint Talha. Degradation of women under the Islamic regime. Better condition of Muslim women. The ''Atafiya'' of Arabia and Dongola. The Berber women and the modern Tuaregs. Muslim views of womans incapacity for religion. Admission by some Muslim writers of woman's right to spiiritual blessings.
---Chapter [XII]. The position of the woman saint. Umm Haram of Cyprus. Rabia bint Ismail 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. 'Aisha bint M. 'Abdallah of Morocco. Sidqi the Turkish Sufi poetess. Qurrat al-Ayn the Babi martyr.
---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.
---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, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, Family. Shrines of women saints in Syria. Tombs of Indian women saints. Shrine of Lalla Imma Tifellut and other Kabyle tombs.
---Chapter [XIV]. 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. Dervish practices. The Dhikr. The Mawlid. Mawlids of Sayyida Zaynab and Lalla Imma Tifellut. Modern shrines. The Maqam. The Wali. The Hawitha. Sacred Trees associated with saint worship. Mysticism and the cult of saints the most vital elements in Islam of today.
---List of Authors Quoted,
------Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Turkish and European.
------i. Proper Names and Titles,
------iii. Technical Terms.