Why Do You Practise?

Found in the novel Looking for Alaska by John Green. The book is unrelated to Sufism or spiritual practice, but this story popped up at a crucial time.

Rabe’a al-Adiwiyah, a great woman saint of Sufism, was seen running through the streets of her hometown, Basra, carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. When someone asked her what she was doing, she answered, “I am going to take this bucket of water and pour it on the flames of hell, and then I am going to use this torch to burn down the gates of paradise so that people will not love God for want of heaven or fear of hell, but because He is God.”

One Reply to “Why Do You Practise?”

  1. Rabe’a al-Adiwiya, aka Rabia of Basra has spoken to me ever since I was first introduced to her poems many years ago. Thank you for reminding me of her work and inspiration. I just had a very pleasant stroll through the small collection of her poems in Daniel Ladinsky’s, ‘Love Poems from God’ and thought this one also speaks well to question Why Do You Practice?

    If I Did Not Pray

    I could not move against this wind if I did not pray.
    And all that is said of me that is untrue
    would make lame my gait if I
    could not free myself from
    the weight of other’s
    malice.

    I could not move against all His light
    If I did not
    pray.

    See how things become: what a change
    can happen, when we find a way
    to keep Him
    Close.

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