Though Rumi may be the most popular Sufi poet, he was preceded by hundreds of years by Rabi’a, a revered Islamic saint and Sufi. I didn’t want to let this final week go by without including some of her beautiful work.
“It Acts Like Love”
It acts like love – music,
it reaches toward the face, touches it, and tries to let you know
His promise: that all will be okay.
It acts like love – music, and
tells the feet, “You do not have to be so burdened.”
My body is covered with wounds
this world made,
but I still longed to kiss Him, even when God said,
“Could you also kiss the hand that caused
for you will not find me until
It does that – music – helps us
As a young woman, Rabi’a was forced into slavery. You can imagine what that meant for her as a woman, but her state in life never determined the state of her soul. All her poems, especially the erotic ones, proclaim her truth: “Never once did God look at me as if I were impure.” Rather, she encouraged other women on their path: “Dear sisters, all we do in this world, whatever happens, is bringing us closer to God.”
What I most appreciate about Rabi’a is that she found her voice and used it. Against overwhelming odds, this woman found her way to Love, even though her life belonged to the men who purchased her. That Love gave her a new Life, which could never be determined by her circumstances. To find such purpose and healing in music is surely a sign of spiritual freedom and depth most of us can only long for.
What is the music that moves you like Rabi’a?
What song insists that you dance? What melody calms your soul? What moves you to forgive not just humanity, but even God?