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  • Akosua Biraa

I saw Paradise at dawn

Why do you worship God…?

In fear and terror,

Because I was afraid

and desired it

Whoever breaks the merchandise

Has to have bought it first.

How then can I accept a gift

of stolen goods?

I don't mourn for things

that make me suffer,

I spun some yarn to sell for food

Where did you come from?

From There

And I am here too:

alone, hidden from all of them—

With You

I see the white pages of my deeds,

Tossing in the wind.

…let me rest in my own house—

Burn like wax, and give light.

This is my prayer

If you hadn't singled me out

to suffer your love,

let God be satisfied with me.

This piece is composed solely out of phrases taken randomly from “Doorkeeper of the Heart: Versions of Rabi’a”, as translated by Charles Upton (1988). I bought this book in 2017, soon after learning that there had also been women who were very central to the Sufi tradition, including its gift of lyrical outpourings.

One of these women was Rabi’a al-‘Adawiyya al-Qaysiyya, a major saint in Islam—born around 717 AD in Basra. In fact, by a huge span of 500+ years, Rabi’a’s sufi poetry precedes that of Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi—whose work I most definitely will share in a future #ReadIt post.

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