O my Lord, if I worship Thee from fear of Hell, burn me in Hell,
and if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise, exclude me thence,
but if I worship Thee for Thine own sake, then withhold not from
me Thine Eternal Beauty.
(Rābi'a of Basra)
Rābi'a is one of Islam's most celebrated
mystics and saints, an early Sufi of Baghdad, who lived from 717
to 801. For
her, prayer was not a matter of intercession but rather a time
of communion with her Beloved, a time of discovery of the will
of God. She taught a doctrine of Pure Love, love that sought no
reward, a love that existed only for the sake of the Beloved and
the Beloved's glory. Those who knew her said she was “on
fire with love and longing…enamoured of the desire to approach
her Lord and be consumed in His Glory.” For her, God became
the companion of her heart.
A Reclining Woman and Her Lapdog
1640. Mir Afzal of Tun. Painting. Isfahan, Iran. British Museum:
15 x 25 cm.