Raab’eh Shaami (Syrian)
Raabe’h Shaami the renown female Aref (Divine Cognoscenti) who has reached the loftiest ranks of Tariqat (Sufi Path), she was the daughter of Isma’il Shaami and the wife of Ahmad Al-Hawaari. Ahmad Al-Hawaari was one of the Sages of Sufism died 230 (HQ) or 750 (CE).  (Source: Sifatol Safwah by Ibn Jawzy)
She was an ‘Aabed (Devout Worshiper) and a Zahed (Ascetic & Abstemious).  Her boundless generosity, benevolence and merits were beyond all expectations. Raab’eh asked for the hand of Ahmad but he did not comprehend that her intention was for the sake of Allah. Therefore he told her, “By God my profession (Sufism) occupies me fully and not thinking about women”. She replied, “I am too (a Sufi) and I am not coming to you for reasons of sexual desires for men. Since I have inherited a vast wealth from my previous husband and I would like to share with you and other Muslim brothers. And through you get to know righteous people to aid me upon the path of Haqq (Divine Truth)”.
Ahmad replied, “I ought to take permission from my teacher”. He went to his teacher and was denied permission to marry since the teacher said each time one of us gets married, distance comes between him and us. Once the teacher heard the words of Raab’eh he said, “Marry hey! Since she is a Wali (Divine Personally Near) to God and her words are the words of the Truthful.” Ahmad married her and afterwards married three more wives. (Source: Tabaqaatol Awliayah)
Her Words
Ahmad said one day Raab’eh cooked some food and told me, “My man! Please eat from my food since it has been cooked with Tasbih (Divine Praise & Adoration) for Allah”. (Source: Sifatol Safwah by Ibn Jawzy)
Ahmad said that Raab’eh’s attitude and mood was often varied. Sometimes she was overwhelmed by ‘Ishq (Unrestrained Love) and Mahab-bat (Divine Love), some other times by Ons (Divine Intimacy) and often times by Khawf (Fear of the Divine).
When she was subdued by Mahab-bat (Divine Love) she versed:
A Lover who is unparallel by any other
No pleasure within my heart by any other
A Lover whom from my eyes and person absent
However never moved from my tongue distant
Upon the Haal (State & Mood) of Ons (Divine Intimacy) she versed:
And once I placed You within the heart as my speakership
And sat my body next to one yearning my companionship
My body is to the companion like a proxy
My Lover lives within my heart intimately
And within the Haal (State & Moof) of Khawf (Divine Affright) she versed:
My provision suffices not reaching the final destination
Should I weep for the long distance or scant provision?
Will You char me upon the smoldering flames of ardor?
And if so, where will be my affright and where Your hope?
(Source: Sifatol Safwah by Ibn Jawzy & Nafahatol Ons by Jaami)
Rabaa’eh used to say to Ahmad, “I love you not like a husband but like a brother”. (Now this does not mean asexually, it means either what she wished for herself she wished for her husband or even better: what she wished for herself she wished something much better for her husband, indeed these are the ONLY two stages of brotherhood) (Source: Sifatol Safwah by Ibn Jawzy)
Ahmad said once I called her and she did not respond. After an hour she responded and said, “That which prevented me from responding to you was that my heart was filled with beatitude of Lord and I was subdued powerless and could not respond to you”. (Source: Sifatol Safwah by Ibn Jawzy)
Raabe’h said to Ahmad, “Brother! I have come to this knowledge that if a slave obeys the Lord whereupon the Lord makes him aware of his behavioral faults, and pays attention to him in advance of any other creation”. (She reached the lofty stage of Sufism wherein she sees only her own faults, completely blind to people and their faults, and her Lord giving her precedence by looking at her before others) (Source: Sifatol Safwah by Ibn Jawzy)
One late evening when she was meditating and Ahmad said to her, “I have never seen anyone staying the nights awake like you” and Raabe’h replied, “All Praise to Allah! Why would you say that? As soon as I am called in the morning I get up” (She is basically puzzled like what’s with you I get up for duties anyhow! To indicate her sense of detached-solitude and duty) Ahmad one night was eating dinner and she reminded him of late nightly prayers and Ahmad dismissed her by saying, “Let me devour my food with pleasure” and she replied, “For likes of you and I the reminder of the Day of Judgment does not embitter the food”. (An example of her grace in arguing with her husband) (Source: Tabaqaatol Awliayah)
Each night she would bathe herself and approached her husband saying, “Do you need anything?” If so she would fulfill and afterwards she would separate herself, cleanse herself again and stand praying till dawn. (She provided house care as well as love making to her husband prior to her religious duties) (Source: Tabaqaatol Awliayah)
Ahmad said that Raabe’h had seven thousand Derhams (unit of currency, indeed a large wealth) and spent it all on him. (Source: Tabaqaatol Awliayah)
Ahmad quoted Raabe’h, “I can not allow to deny you myself and other women, please go and obtain other women lawfully”. I did so and married three other women. She used to cook meat for me and have me take it to my other families. (I suspect that she either got too old or there was a problem, perhaps due to excessive fasting and worship, where she could not be a sensual woman for him so let him have his pleasure another place. What mattered to her was his piety not her jealousy) (Source: Tabaqaatol Awliayah)
Ahmad said each day he tried to make love to her she would say, “For God’s sake please spare me today since I am fasting (Muslims can not have sex during fasting hours)”. And each night he tried to make love to her she would say, “For God’s sake spare me tonight (either asking Ahmad to worship the entire night or she was busy herself in meditations)”. (Source: Tabaqaatol Kobaray Sha’raani)
Ahmad quoted Raabe’h, “I heard not an Adhan (Call to prayers) except I remembered the Day of Judgment (the trumpet call and resurrection of people) and I saw not any snow except I remembered the distribution of people’s book of deeds (each person reads his own book of deeds that day) and I noticed not any grasshoppers unless I was reminded of the Day of Judgment (People swarm out of their graves like locusts)”. (Source: Tabaqaatol Kobaray Sha’raani)
Ahmad had confessed, “So many times I was moved by the looks of Raabe’h (her devotion and spiritual demeanor) while my heart felt nothing talking to my fellow Sufis about the impact of worship and etc.” (Source: Tabaqaatol Kobaray Sha’raani)
Ahmad has heard Raabe’h saying, “I feel so niggardly not wanting to feed delicious food to my Nafs (Self) when I see with sorrow my chubby arms”. (Source: Tabaqaatol Kobaray Sha’raani)
Ahmad mentioned that Raabe’h used to give him money to acquire women (lawfully) while apologizing to him. (I guess for not being able to provide sex) (Source: Maraa-atoz Zamaan)
Ahmad said Raabe’h used to cook for him food to take to his new households since he needed provisions for them. (Source: Maraa-atoz Zamaan)
Abu Na’eem narrated from Serry Saqaty, “I went to Shaam (Syria) and met Ahmad in the mosque. I greeted him and asked him for good advice. He mentioned that he had nothing good to admonish but told me to go to his house there is a person there (Raabe’h) and she gives wonderful advice”.
So Serry left the mosque and head towards Ahmad’s house but on the way saw an old monk followed by a young monk. He asked the young monk why was he following the older monk and he replied, “He is my doctor and gives me medicine”. So Serry felt some unease about this answer and went to Ahmad’s house and a lady (Raabe’h) answered from behind the door. He mentioned the monks’ story to her. She asked Serry, “I wish I knew what type of medicine? Medicine for awakening or comfort?” Serry asked for more explanation and she added, “Was the medicine for awakening which is to avoid what is forbidden by the Lord or the medicine for comfort which is Redha (complacence) with the Lord (decisions and fate)”. Serry swore to God that her penetrating words never left his heart. (It is not what your say it is who you are) (Source: Maraa-atoz Zamaan)


© 2004-2002,  Dara O. Shayda