[O my Lord]

By Rabi'a 717–801 Rabi'a

Translated By Jane Hirshfield

O my Lord,
if I worship you
from fear of hell, burn me in hell.
If I worship you
from hope of Paradise, bar me from its gates.
But if I worship you
for yourself alone, grant me then the beauty of your Face.

Rabi’a, “[O my Lord]” translated by Jane Hirshfield, from Women in Praise of the Sacred (New York: Harper Collins, 1994).

Source: Women in Praise of the Sacred (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1994)

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Poet Rabi'a 717–801


Subjects Religion, God & the Divine, The Spiritual

Poetic Terms Free Verse



A Muslim saint and Sufi mystic, Rabi’a al-Basri was born around 717 CE in Basra, in present-day Iraq. Enslaved as a young girl, she was eventually freed and pursued a life of prayer. Through her teachings and a number of miracles, she became an important figure in mystical Islam. Rabi’a did not leave any written work behind, so many of the poems attributed to her are of unknown origin. She is believed to have died in her early . . .

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Poems by Rabi'a

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, God & the Divine, The Spiritual


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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