Rabiya al-Adawiyyah of Basra is one of the earliest Muslim poets whose work has survived. She is highly revered as a model mystic of the Sufi tradition and is widely acclaimed as an influential Islamic poet. Born a century after the death of The Prophet, in Basra, Iraq, her father was informed by Muhammed in a dream that his daughter was a “favourite of the Lord, and shall lead many Muslims to the right path”.

After her father’s death, Rabia’s people suffered a terrible famine that claimed the lives of many she knew. Bereft of human love, Rabia wandered into the inhospitable desert and began her life as an ascetic, living in semi-seclusion. It is there that she supposedly reached a state of self-realization and dedicated her life to the devotion of God. The first to argue that God should be loved for his own sake and not out of fear, Rabia is considered a seminal figure in the intellectual development of Sufism.