RABIA, the great Sufi mystic lived a remarkable life. Throughout her life , her love for God, poverty and self-denial were her constant companions. She did not possess more than a broken jug, a rush mat and a brick which she used as a pillow. She spent all night in prayer and contemplation, chiding herself if she slept, because it took her away from her active love of God.
As her fame grew, she had many disciples. Farid-ud-din Attar, who has recorded her life, tells us that she held discussions with many renowned religious people of her time. Her concept of Divine Love was truly elevating. She was the first to introduce the idea that God should be loved for God’s own sake. She prayed thus : “O, Allah ! if I worship you for fear of hell, burn me in hell, and if I worship you in hope of paradise, exclude me from paradise. But if I worship you for your own sake, grudge me not your everlasting beauty.”
One day, Rabia was passing through a street, on her way to the market-place, where she went everyday, to share the truths she had sought and attained through her prayers and reflections. And for many days she had been watching a well-known mystic, Hassan, sitting before the door of the mosque and praying to God with intense devotion. “God, open the door ! Please open the door ! Let me in.” On that day Rabia could take it no more, because Hassan let out a heart-rending wail, tears rolling down his cheeks. He was repeatedly shouting, “Open the door ! Let me in ! Why don’t you listen ? Why don’t you hear my prayers ?” She went up to him, shook him up and said, “Stop all this nonsense. The door is open —- in fact, you are already in.” Hassan looked at Rabia, and that moment became a moment of revelation for him. Looking into Rabia’s eyes, he bowed down, touched her feet and said, “You came in time; otherwise I would have spent my whole life just calling God in vain. for years I have been doing this, why did you not come earlier to take me out of my misery ? I know you pass this street every day. You must have seen me crying and praying. And yet you did not come to me until now.”
Rabia said to Hassan, “Yes, but truth can only be said at a certain moment, in a certain space, in a certain context. I was waiting for the right moment. Today it has arrived. Yesterday if I had told you, you would have felt irritated. You may have reacted thus, ‘You have disturbed my prayer’ —– and it is not right to disturb anybody’s prayer. I had wanted to tell you this a long time back, but I had to wait for THE RIGHT MOMENT.”
———–Dada J P Vaswani.