Rabia was one of the great saints of Islam. The little girl Rabia was kidnapped and sold as a slave for a paltry sum of six dirhams. She was constantly ill-treated by her master who was cruel to her beyond words. She had to toil and labour the whole day long. Often she went without food in order to cope with the work which was given to her. But her heart aspired towards the Eternal and longed to reach out to God. She kept awake at night and spent several hours in prayer and meditation.
One night, when her master returned home at a late hour and passed by the little room in which Rabia lived, he stopped in his tracks as he heard a murmur, a whispered voice which seemed to come from within. Instantly, he was suspicious, “To whom could my slave be talking at this late hour of the night?” He peeped through the window of the room and was amazed by the sight that met his eyes! Rabia was at prayer enveloped in unearthly light. Like a little angel, she was kneeling down, her eyes closed, her hands folded and out of her lips issued forth the words, “Lord, bless Thou my master. Forgive Thou his faults. Let him prosper and above all, O Lord, so bless him that he may be drawn closer to Thy Feet and to Thy Heart, which is the Heart of love.”
Hearing this prayer, her master who had treated her mercilessly and most cruelly was taken aback. He returned to his room but was unable to sleep. He said to himself, “I have sinned grievously. Rabia is not an ordinary slave. She is one whom God has truly blessed. She is a saint of Allah and I have made her work as a slave in my house.”
Early the next morning, he came to Rabia’s room and fell down at her feet, saying to her, “Forgive me. I knew thee not, O Saint of Allah! I have grievously sinned against thee and against Him! I entreat you to continue to stay in my house, not as a slave but as my honoured guest. Permit me the privilege of serving thee!”