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Rabiah al-Adawiyah

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The Oxford Dictionary of Islam What is This? Covers the religious, political, and social spheres of global Islam in the modern world

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    Rabiah al-Adawiyah

    (d. 801 )

    Female mystic of slave origin from Basra, often called the first Islamic saint. Introduced the doctrine of selfless love into Sufism. Demonstrated the importance of attitude and spiritual motivation for actions, rather than mere ritual correctness. Emphasized ascetic detachment, renunciation of the world, meditation, and love of God. Taught that people should worship God out of love, rather than the fear of hell or promise of paradise. Wrote passionate poems about the desire to be joined to God, permanently influencing the development and nature of Sufism. She symbolizes the importance of spiritual excellence over gender and serves as a historical example of female autonomy and freedom from male authority.

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