Shaykha Rabi'ah's (q.s.) Fast

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Someone asked Shaykha Rabi’ah al-Adawiyyah (q.s.), “By what is the intimate united with Allah Most High?”

“By hunger,” she replied.

So she was asked, “Then what is hunger?”

She replied, “Hunger is the act of keeping the nafs away from delights.  He who keeps his nafs away from worldly delights attains his goal in the Hereafter.”

Once Shaykha Rabi’ah al-Adawiyyah (q.s.) fasted for seven days and nights and had eaten nothing, and during the night she had not slept at all, but had spent every night in prayer.  When she was in extremity from hunger, someone came into the house and brought her a cup of food.  Shaykh Rabi’ah (q.s.) took it and went to fetch a lamp.  When she returned, a cat had upset the cups.  She said, “I will go and fetch a jug and break my fast (on water).”  When she brought the jug, the lamp had gone out.  She intended to drink the water in the darkness, but the jug fell from her hands and was smashed to pieces.

Shaykha Rabi’ah (q.s.) broke into lamentations and heaved such a sigh that it almost seemed as if the house would catch fire.  She said, “O my Rabb, what is this You are doing to wretched me?”

She heard a voice saying, “Have a care.  If you desire it, I will Endow you with all the pleasures of this world, but I shall Take concern for Me out of your heart, for such concern and the pleasures of this world cannot dwell together in one heart.  O Rabi’ah, you have My desire and your desire, I do not combine my desire and your desire in one heart.”


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