"O God! If I worship Thee in fear of Hell,
burn me in Hell;
and if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise,
exclude me from Paradise;
but if I worship Thee for Thine own sake,
withhold not Thine Everlasting Beauty!"
(Arberry, Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam, p.42).
Among great mystics of Islam was a woman, Rabi'a al-Adawiyya, who lived in Basra (located in present-day Iraq) in the first century after the death of Mohammed. She is perhaps best known for her insistence that Allah should be loved purely, not out of fear of wrath or for the prospect of reward. The above prayer is one of her most famous sayings.
Another account about Rabi'a has her carrying a burning torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. When asked why, she replied:
"I am going to set fire to Paradise and quench the fires of Hell, so that men may worship God for his own glory alone."
For more on Saint Rabia:
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