Rabi'a: From Narrative to Myth
Rkia Elaroui Cornell
The Many Faces of Islam's Most Famous Woman Saint, Rabi`a al-`Adawiyya (717-801)
Rabi`a al-`Adawiyya is a figure shrouded in myth. Certainly a woman by this name was born in Basra, Iraq, in the eighth century, but her life remains recorded only in legends, stories, poems and hagiographies. The various depictions of her - as a deeply spiritual ascetic, an existentialist rebel and a romantic lover - seem impossible to reconcile, and yet Rabi`a has transcended these narratives to become a global symbol of both Sufi and modern secular culture.
In this groundbreaking study, Rkia Elaroui Cornell traces the development of these diverse narratives and provides a history of the iconic Rabi`a's construction as a Sufi saint. Combining medieval and modern sources, including evidence never before examined, in novel ways, Rabi`a From Narrative to Myth is the most significant work to emerge on this quintessential figure in Islam for more than seventy years.