Woman with a Spray of Flowers, Isfahan, Iran, ca. 1595

Woman with a Spray of Flowers, opaque watercolor and gold on paper, Isfahan, Iran, ca. 1595

Among the first female Sufi saints, Rabi’a al-Basri (717–801, Iraq) left no written works, but is known to us through later writings. Turning away from fear, Rabi’a introduced the doctrine of Divine Love to Sufi thought. Her teachings mark a shift from its original asceticism—shunning all worldly pleasures—to mysticism.