79. Rabia and the Preacher

There was a wise man of Basra who preached to the people. "The door will open to whoever knocks," he proclaimed. "The door will open!"
As he preached this message, Rabia happened to hear him, and she laughed.
"I don't understand you, woman," he said to her. "Why are you laughing?"
"I'm laughing because you talk about the door opening," Rabia told him. "What made you think that the door was ever closed?"
Her words enlightened him.
"I may be a man," he admitted, "but I am an ignorant fool. It is the woman Rabia who has taught me wisdom."

Inspired by: Sufi Women by Javad Nurbakshsh
Notes: This story is on p. 50 of the book. You can find out more about Rabia of Basra at Wikipedia. The story is told of Salih al-Marri, but I do not have any information about him.

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