75. Rabia and the Purse of Gold

A wealthy man wished to give Rabia a gift, so he brought her a purse of gold coins.
"God provides for everyone, even those who curse him," Rabia said. "I don't need your gold."
The rich man still stood there, purse in hand.
"Take it away!" Rabia repeated. "I once used the light of the sultan's lamp to sew by, but it bound my heart. I undid every stitch, and then I used the light of God's sun to do my work. That is how I freed my heart. Do not ask me to bind my heart with this gold."

Inspired by: Sufi Women by Javad Nurbakshsh
Notes: This story is on p. 42 of the book. You can find out more about Rabia of Basra at Wikipedia. In the original anecdote, Hasan of Basra tells this story about Rabia, with the rich man using Hasan as a go-between while he waits at the gate of Rabia's hermitage. I added the part about using the light of God's sun; the original anecdote only talked about how Rabia undid the sewing she had done by the light of the sultan's lamp.

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