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Hijjas, Mulaika (2018) 'The trials of Rābi‘a al-‘Adawīyya in the Malay world: the woman Sufi in Hikayat Rabi‘ah.' Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkunde / Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia, 174 (2-3). pp. 216-243.

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Sufism is often taken to be the form of Islamic practice that was most welcoming to women. Similarly, Southeast Asia is commonly said to be characterised by unusually high levels of female autonomy, relative to the surrounding regions. This article discusses for the first time a Malay text, Hikayat Rabi‘ah about the most famous female Sufi in Islamic history, Rābi‘a al-‘Adawīyya, and suggests that these assumptions regarding Sufi women in Southeast Asia may require revision. Hikayat Rabi‘ah presents a version of Rabi‘ah’s life that is not found in Arabo-Persian models. Here, the Sufi woman saint usually known for her celibacy marries and is widowed, then bests four suitors in trials of mystical prowess, before agreeing to marriage to the Sultan, himself a Sufi adept, and achieving through him an ecstatic ascent to Heaven. The text is considered against two other Malay Islamic genres, didactic literature for women and esoteric Sufi treatises on ritualised sexual intercourse, to suggest why it was not possible to imagine a celibate Rabi‘ah in the Malay world.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Sufism, women, marriage, Malay manuscripts
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics
ISSN: 00062294
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2018 14:26
Related URLs: https://brill.c ... ki-overview.xml (Publisher URL)
Funders: British Academy

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