Rabia on Religion

One day a man named Hassan went to stay with a self-realised woman named Rabia, who was known as a Sufi saint.

At prayer time, Hassan was looking for his copy of the Koran, but it seemed he had misplaced it. He was in a hurry to begin prayers, so he asked Rabia to lend him a copy.

When Rabia handed it over, Hassan was upset to see the poor condition of the holy book. It was covered in dust and evidently hadn’t been used for some time. As a person who considered himself highly religious, this was a hard thing to see. Hassan realised with delayed shock that Rabia was not using her Koran at all.

He opened the book and became even more agitated to see that some passages were highlighted whilst others were crossed out, in particular a repeated phrase which stated, “Hate your devil”.

Hassan could not concentrate during his prayers. He had been taught that Mohammed was the last prophet. There had been many prophets before him, but he was most certainly the last, and there was no question that the Koran was the final word.

He looked up from his prayers to see Rabia watching him, smiling. He was certain she was mocking his devout religious sentiments.

“Hassan, were you worried about the dust on the Koran?”

The directness of Rabia’s question took him aback for a moment. How could she have known? But his anger got the better of him, and he couldn’t help himself but to point out her wrongdoing.

“You have not used this book for a long time,” he retorted. “But every Muslim has to pray. And how dare you write in the Koran and cross out sentences?”

Rabia explained to Hassan that the word ‘devil’ was a word in English derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Deva’, meaning ‘God’.

“When I found enlightenment, there was no face of the devil there,” she told him. “So the statement, ‘hate your devil’ is not true. This statement is good for ignorant people, but it is meaningless for enlightened people.”

“When you reach that level, only one thing will exist,” Guruji said in conclusion to this story. “There will be no opposites. No north or south, no devils, demons or gods. Hell is a place of great torture and suffering. It is a place we think of as being unfit for human habitation, a place of death.

“We use other words also – the Devil, or Satan. We think of one that is wicked and cruel, with no divine qualities. How can we recognise the devil? It is simple: there is too much ego. But we can come out of that.

“We think of heaven as a place of joy, a paradise where there is no death. But this is a matter of consciousness. When consciousness is low, we are suffering. When we have fully developed consciousness, it is the end of suffering.”