Rabia el Adawiya is one of the rarest women in the whole human history. There are only a few names that can be compared to Rabia, but still she remains rare, even among these few names — Meera, Theresa, Laila. These are the few names. But Rabia still remains rare. She is a KOHINOOR, the most precious woman ever born. Her insight is immense.
One day Rabia was sitting inside her hut. It is early morning, and Hasan comes to see her. And the sun is rising and the birds are singing and the trees are dancing. It is a really beautiful morning.
And he calls forth from the outside, ‘Rabia, what are you doing inside? Come out! God has given birth to such a beautiful morning. What are you doing inside?’
And Rabia laughs and she says,
‘Hasan, outside is only God’s creation, inside is God himself. Why don’t you come in? Yes, the morning is beautiful, but it is nothing compared with the Creator who creates all the mornings. Yes, those birds are singing beautifully, but they are nothing compared with the song of God. That happens only when you are within. Why don’t you come in? Are you not yet finished with the without, with the outside? When will you be able to come in?’
Such stories, small, but of tremendous significance…
One evening people saw her searching for something on the street in front of her hut. They gathered together — the poor old woman was searching for something. They asked, ‘What is the matter? What are you searching for?’ And she said, ‘I have lost my needle.’ So they also started helping.
Then somebody asked, ‘Rabia, the street is big and night is just descending and soon there will be no light and a needle is such a small thing — unless you tell us exactly where it has fallen it will be difficult to find.’
Rabia said, ‘Don’t ask that. Don’t bring that question up at all. If you want to help me, help, otherwise don’t help, but don’t bring up that question.’
They all stopped — all those who were searching — and they said. ‘What is the matter? Why can’t we ask this? If you don’t say where it has fallen, how can we be of any help to you?’
She said, ‘The needle has fallen inside my house.’
They said, ‘Then have you gone mad? If the needle has fallen inside the house why are you searching here?’
And she said, ‘Because the light is here. Inside the house there is no light.’
Somebody said, ‘Even if the light is here, how can we find the needle if it has not been lost here? The right way would be to bring light inside the house so you can find the needle.’
And Rabia laughed,
‘You are such clever people about small things. When are you going to use your intelligence for your inner life? I have seen you all searching outside and I know perfectly well, I know from my own experience that that which you are searching for is lost within. The bliss that you are searching for, you have lost within — and you are searching outside. And your logic is that because your eyes can see easily outside, and your hands can grope easily outside, because the light is outside, that’s why you are searching outside.
‘If you are really intelligent,’ Rabia said, ‘then use your intelligence. Why are you searching for bliss in the outside world? Have you lost it there?’
They stood dumbfounded and Rabia disappeared into her house.
Contributed by Nilesh Parekh