Rabiah Ibn Kab

Rabiah Ibn KabRabiah Ibn Kab

Here is the story of Rabiah told in his own words: “I was still quite young when the light of iman shone through me and my heart was opened to the teachings of Islam. And when my eyes beheld the Messenger of God, for the first time, I loved him with a lov e that possessed my entire being. I loved him to the exclusion of everyone else.

One day I said to myself:

‘Woe to you, Rabi’ah. Why don’t you put yourself completely in the service of the Messenger of God, peace be on him. Go and suggest this to him. If he is pleased with you, you would find happiness in being near him. You will be successful through love for him and you will have the good fortune of obtaining the good in this world and the good in the next.’

This I did hoping that he would accept me in his service. He did not dash my hopes. He was pleased that I should be his servant. From that day, I lived in the shadow of the noble Prophet. I went with him wherever he went. I moved in his orbit whenever and wherever he turned. Whenever he cast a glance in my direction, I would leap to stand in his presence. Whenever he expressed a need, he would find me hurrying to fulfil it.

I would serve him throughout the day. When the day was over and he had prayed Salat al-Isha and retired to his home, I would think about leaving. But I would soon say to myself:

‘Where would you go, Rabi’ah? Perhaps you may be required to do something for the Prophet during the night.’ So I would remain seated at his door and would not leave the threshold of his house. The Prophet would spend part of his night engaged in Salat. I would hear him reciting the opening chapter of the Quran and he would continue reciting sometimes for a third or a half of the night. I would become tired and leave or my eyes would get the better of me and I would fail asleep.

It was the habit of the Prophet, peace be on him, that if someone did him a good turn, he loved to repay that person with something more excellent. He wanted to do something for me too in return for my service to him. So one day he came up tome and said: ‘O Rabi’ah ibn Kab.’ ‘Labbayk ya rasulullah wa Sadark – At your command, O Messenger of God and may God grant you happiness,’ I responded. ‘Ask of me anything and I will give it to you.’

I thought a little and then said: ‘Give me some time, O Messenger of God, to think about what I should ask of

you. Then I will let you know.’ He agreed.

At that time, I was a young man and poor. I had neither family, nor wealth, nor place of abode. I used to shelter in the Suffah of the mosque with other poor Muslims like myself. People used to call us the “guests of Islam”. Whenever any Muslim brought so mething in charity to the Prophet, he would send it all to us. And if someone gave him a gift he would take some of it and leave the rest for us.

So, it occurred to me to ask the Prophet for some worldly good that would save me from poverty and make me like others who had wealth, wife and children. Soon, however, I said: ‘May you perish Rabi’ah. The world is temporary and will pass away. You have y our share of sustenance in it which God has guaranteed and which must come to you. The Prophet, peace be on him, has a place with his Lord and no request would be refused him. Request him therefore, to ask Allah to grant you something of the bounty of the hereafter.’

I felt pleased and satisfied with this thought. I went to the Prophet and he asked: ‘What do you say, O Rabi’ah?’ ‘O Messenger of God,’ I said, ‘I ask you to beseech God most High on my behalf to make me your companion in Paradise.’

‘Who has advised you thus?’ asked the Prophet.

‘No by God,’ I said, ‘No one has advise me. But when you told me ‘Ask of me anything and I will give to you,’ I thought of asking you for something of the goodness of this world. But before long, I was guided to choose what is permanent and lasting agains t what is temporary and perishable. And so I have asked you to beseech God on my behalf that I may be your companion in Paradise.’

The Prophet remained silent for a long while and then asked: ‘Any other request besides that, Rabi’ah?’ ‘No, O Messenger of God, Nothing can match what I have asked you.’ ‘Then, in that case, assist me for your sake by performing much prostration to God.’

So I began to exert myself in worship in order to attain the good fortune of being with the Prophet in Paradise just as I had the good fortune of being in his service and being his companion in this world.

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