Oshodham & Osho World Galleria : Online Magazine - Dec 15, 2012 - Jan 15, 2013
Rabiya al-Adabiya

In Arabia there has been a woman, a Sufi mystic, Rabiya al-Adabiya....

Mohammedanism is not a great religion, but it is the second greatest religion as far as numbers are concerned. As far as quality is concerned, it is the last of all. But it is a strange thing, that a few religions have produced a small rebellious section which has risen to the highest peaks of spirituality. Mohammedanism is a very earthbound, ordinary religion. Just in name only is it religion. But it has created an offshoot which has reached to the highest peak of spirituality -- and that is Sufism.

Sufis are one of the best products of all the religions. There is no comparison. And in Sufism there is no one compared with Rabiya al-Adabiya. She is at the very top. One of the great Sufis was Hassan. He was a very respected saint.

I am reminded of one incident....

Just to make it clear to you, Rabiya is far above even the great masters.

Hassan is a great master, has a following of thousands. He was staying at Rabiya's house, and as usual, in the morning he wanted to read the holy Koran. But he had not his own copy with him so he asked Rabiya for her copy. Rabiya gave him her copy. As he opened it he was surprised that in many places Rabiya had edited it -- which is very much against Islam. The Koran is the last message of God, and Mohammed is his final messenger. Now there is not going to come any other message. Nobody can edit the Koran; nobody can change anything. And Rabiya had even crossed out a few words, dropped a few paragraphs -- she had simply cut them out...!

Hassan said, "Rabiya, somebody has destroyed your Koran."

Rabiya said, "Why should somebody destroy my Koran? All that has been done is done by me. I had to do it. For example, just look at the page you are at." There was a sentence that said, "When you come across the Devil, hate him..." Rabiya had cut out this one word, "hate him," and had written "love him."

Hassan said, "But Rabiya, this is God's message; you can't change it."

She said, "It doesn't matter whose message it is, it is against my experience. Since I became aware of myself, there is only love left. Even if the Devil comes in front of me, I cannot do anything but love him. And this is my copy of the Koran! It reflects me. It has to be according to me and my experience. Hatred has completely disappeared from me, so I am helpless. I cannot follow this sentence.

"Even if God comes to tell me, I am going to argue against it, because this is not my experience. And I can say with authority that there comes a moment when you are pure love. Then whoever comes in front of you, you simply can look with love. You can share your love, you can radiate your love. It does not matter who the person is, whether it is God or the Devil. Even if you are sitting alone, a man of realization radiates love, although there is nobody to receive it. It is simply the nature of enlightenment."

Hassan had to agree. He said, "I had never thought in that way."

On another occasion, another great Sufi mystic, Junnaid, was praying in front of a mosque. He always used to pray outside the mosque where people leave their shoes, because he used to say, "I am not yet so pure as to come in to meet God. The day I am ready he will call me and I will come in."

He was praying there and Rabiya was just passing by. She stood and heard what Junnaid was saying. Junnaid had his eyes closed and he was saying, "My God, open the doors and call me in. How long have I to wait?"

Rabiya went behind him, shook him holding his collar -- and this must not be done; it is against Mohammedanism. When somebody is praying, you should not disturb him.

Rabiya shook the man in the middle of his prayer, and he had to open his eyes. She said, "You seem to be absolutely stupid. The doors are always open and he has always been calling. You are deaf! And you are blind! If I hear again, `My God, open the doors!' I will hit your head because the doors are always open. God's doors are never closed, and he does not wait for a certain moment to call you. His call is a standing call -- he is always calling you. Don't be stupid, and stop all this nonsense. If you want to go in, go in. If you don't want to go in, remain out. But this prayer I will not allow."

This woman must have been courageous -- and Junnaid, a master of thousands of people, a master of masters. Al-Hillaj Mansoor, who became a very famous mystic, was his disciple. But Rabiya was certainly right, and Junnaid had to touch her feet and thank her, saying, "You are right. I am blind. Perhaps the doors are always open. I am deaf. Perhaps he is always calling. I will not make such a prayer again. You forgive me, Rabiya."

There have been just a few more women around the world. They can be counted on the fingers. I have given you these three examples, but they are enough to prove that there is no intrinsic incapacity in being a woman that prevents you from rising to the status of being a master.
The Sword and the Lotus, Chapter-17