The Sufi Saint Rabia and the Beloved

I learned that Rabia was the first poet to address the Divine as “Beloved.” Her ecstatic verses and life give me hope as nothing else has. After the class with Andrew Harvey online, I read again in the book “Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West” translated by Daniel Ladinsky, that “Rabia of Basra (c. 717-801) is without doubt the most popular and influential of female Islamic saints and a central figure in the Sufi tradition.”

Ladinsky describes Rabia’s being sold into sexual slavery and, remarkably, her words once she was freed: “what a place for trials and transformation did my Lover put me, but never once did He look upon me as if I were impure. Dear sisters, all we do in this world, whatever happens, is bringing us closer to God.”

How those words heal my broken psyche! Somehow, the Divine who did not condemn Rabia also extends His Hand to my soul who was sure that all the sexual assaults endured would render me unacceptable in His Sight. Thank God I was wrong and I know that from the Love Poems from God anthology and how it came to me after I felt so burdened from a session with the psychiatrist. My desire for God was taboo, it seemed, yet I left with the thought of going to Barnes and Noble to browse.

It was then and there that I found Love Poems from God and with it a knowingness that perhaps my desire was heard and echoed in the mystics’ quests as well. The Beloved who answers the mystics’ prayers for divine Union is the only One who can heal my mortal wound from a terminally ill pretender, a fallen father. While the life of Riley attempted to usurp the place of the Holy Father, he did not succeed. I went mad, but still He remained–hidden, but yet never driven fully from my heart.

The carnal mind ruling the life of Riley cursed me with its spirits of oppression and I battled those spirits mightily. They are not completely gone, still. They won’t be until I let the true Deity reign and realize that He has gone the many extra miles with me in spite of Miles’ vexing me with his devilish spirits. Greater is He who is with me than he who is in the life of Riley’s world…

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