The owners of this sign were martyred in Rabia al-Adawiya Square by the military coup that took place in Egypt on July 3, 2013.
The Egyptian people, who wanted to reclaim their beliefs, freedoms, future and the votes they cast for the first elected president in Egypt, launched a collective resistance unprecedented in world history on 28 June in Rabia al-Adawiya Square.
It was there that they made the sign for the first time by raising their four fingers. It never transpired who invented the sign or who came up with the idea for it.
When they were asked two months later what the sign meant, they explained: “This is the ‘Rabia sign.’ ‘Rabia’ means four or fourth in the Arabic language. The name of this square comes from Rabia al-Adawiya, a blessed lady among the pious servants of Allah. She received the name Rabia because she was the fourth child in the family. We use the sign to cherish her legacy.”
“The second reason why this sign bears significance is the fact that Mohamed Morsi was the fourth President of Egypt after Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak. We make the sign to remind people of his presidency.”
“In addition, those who gather in Tahrir Square to support the military coup prefer the V sign made with the two fingers. We cannot be the same as those people. We use and spread the Rabia sign in order to distinguish ourselves from them.”
When pro-democracy demonstrators made this explanation at the early hours of 14 August, the Egyptian army moved into Rabia al-Adawiya to unleash the biggest civilian massacre that history has ever witnessed. It is likely that those few people who explained what the sign meant were martyred as well. This website contains photos and video footage of those who made the sign for the last time, right before the killings.
Following the massacre in Egypt, the Rabia sign came to be better recognized, and from then on began spreading across the entire Muslim world.
Within a short span of time, the sign became a symbol adopted by Muslims of every denomination and from all walks of life who stood up against the states in both the East and the West that chose to ignore thousands of civilians subjected to violence in Egypt.
Among the numerous logos designed to represent the Rabia sign, the one with the black hand on a yellow background caught on more quickly than others. People started using it everywhere. Noteworthy about the design is that the creators of the logo are said to have used the color yellow in reference to the golden dome of Qubbatus Sakhra Mosque in Jerusalem, Muslims’ first Qiblah, and the color black to signify the black cloth that covers the Kaaba.
The Rabia sign then spread beyond the national borders with the blessing of Rabia martyrs, and became the symbol of the global Muslim community.
The answers found on this website addressing the question “What is R4BIA?” are compiled from a selection of interpretations provided by Muslims around the world.
Even today, Muslim intellectuals, thinkers, journalists and the general public continue to explain the sign in manifold ways.
The Rabia sign is the symbol of awakening, triggered in response to the massacres, oppression and long-going political, economic and cultural pressure – both in the West and the East – that have targeted Islam and Muslims.
Western concepts such as democracy, human rights, freedom, equality and right to life, often exercised in a double standard, have utterly collapsed in Palestine, Syria, Bosnia and lastly in Egypt. With the spirit of the Rabia sign, these and similar concepts will be reinterpreted based on Islamic principles.
With help of Allah, this awakening will be a source of inspiration for every individual, irrespective of faith and ethnicity, who seeks justice, equality and freedom in this world.
Supporting every well-meant effort in search of rights and freedoms that is spread through this sign is an indication of human decency.
The Rabia sign and the blessing of martyrs are reuniting Muslim peoples and nations, isolated within borders that were set by the occupying states of the East and the West.
No single country, group or individual claims this sign as their own. Therefore, they felicitously avoid overshadowing the blessings that Allah bestowed on the Muslim world for the sake of the martyrs.
The administrators of this website do not own or manage this sign, either; they are simply servants of Islam.
The global Muslim community will chart its path on its own.
“And rely upon Allah; and sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.” (Surat al-Ahzab, ayah 3)
The blessings of R4BIA have been spreading rapidly around the world, and they bring with them a new spirit, fresh ideas and a novel sense of brotherhood. Conscientious human beings in more than 30 nations, who stand against all kinds of injustice and inequity, express themselves through the R4BIA sign, flag, logo and slogans. An act of mercy roves the earth in full flood, an act which is diverse in ethnicity, color, sect, and faith, but remains united around the same sign.
Lately this blessing is accompanied by a tune. People are humming along a melody that seems to travel everywhere. It is fast turning into a wave of music flourishing of its own accord – like the R4BIA movement – and growing on everyone that hears it.
The lyrics of the tune belong to the great Egyptian scholar and thinker Professor Sayyid Qutb. He was locked behind bars between 1954-65 in the most horrific jail in Egypt, Tora Prison, where Muslim Brotherhood leaders are held today.
One day when Qutb was leaving his cell for outdoor time, he was greeted by a hand that stuck out from the neighboring cell. Moved by the well-wishes of this person whose face he never saw, Qutb addressed him with the words:
My brother, you are free behind these gates.
My brother, you are free within these chains.
Qutb then melded these words into a 32-couplet eulogy. Several of its couplets are said to have been recited for Qutb by other inmates.”
A couple of months after the eulogy was written, prison officers opened fire on Brotherhood members during a brawl on June 1, 1957. The result was a massacre. Twenty one inmates were killed, 23 wounded and more than six Brotherhood members literally lost their mind in the face of this barbarity.
Just at that time, Qutb’s eulogy spread among the rest of the imprisoned Brotherhood members and helped them preserve their sanity.
Yousef al-Azm, chief editor of Egyptian newspaper Muslim Brotherhood and a student of Qutb, published the eulogy under the title “From Behind Bars” in the paper’s 29th edition, on July 26, 1957. This was how the world first became aware of the poem, and it spread across Egypt and throughout the Muslim world.
During his ten year stay in prison, Sayyid Qutb also wrote his masterpiece “Fi Zilal al-Quran,” a thirty-volume commentary on the Islamic sacred scripture, the Qur’an. Qutb was freed in 1964 but arrested again in a year.
On August 29, 1966, Qutb was executed by hanging for plotting against government. His execution took place under the rule of Gamal Abdel Nasser, who came to power with a coup d’état in 1952.
After Qutb was martyred, both his eulogy “My Brother, You are Free” and his commentary made a huge impact on the Muslim world, proliferating swiftly and illuminating numerous hearts.
The eulogy, known and recited for years in Muslim countries, came to the fore again in the year 2013 with the struggle for freedom staged in Rabia al-Adawiya Square, but this time it had a melody.
“You are Free My Brother” was set to music and started spreading again in its new form in the Muslim world. Its composer remains unknown, just like the mysterious creators of the R4BIA sign. Apparently, someone in the Middle East, who hails among the children of the Muslim global community, composed a piece for this powerful eulogy and gifted it to the community.
In September 2013, a group of youths in Turkey reinterpreted this composition using traditional stringed instruments. A Syrian musician performed the vocals, and a new musical piece emerged from this novel interpretation.
Lyrics from Egypt, music by an unsung hero of the global Muslim community, instruments by Turks, and vocals from Syria… A piece perfectly in tune with the R4BIA spirit.
Below is a selection of couplets from the eulogy.
My brother, you are free behind these gates.
My brother, you are free within these chains.
For if upon Allah you do rely,
The intrigues of his slaves can bring no pains.
My brother, if you shed a tear for me
And moisten my grave with sincerity
Then kindle a light from my remains
And tread a path to the glorious revival
My brother, if we die we will meet our beloved ones
Then we will have gardens that our Lord has prepared for us
And the birds will fly around us therein
And we will have eternal dwellings
Maybe in a different time and place, R4BIA volunteers will fashion a different, more beautiful composition. Maybe it will come to be called an anthem, not a song. Should such works of art reach this website, we will be delighted to publish them.
However, the common opinion is that no matter how many new interpretations come about, Sayyid Qutb’s eulogy will remain unchanged.
Finally, we have a R4BIA song that we can sing in squares, streets, cars and in our hearts.