Her name and biography appear in 'Awfī's lubābu 'l-albāb, 'Attār's maṭnawīyat, and Djāmī's nafahātu 'l-uns. She is said to have been descended from a royal family, her father Ka'b al-Quzdārī, a chieftain at the Samanid court, reportedly descended from Arab immigrants who had settled in eastern Persia during the time of Abu Muslim.
She was one of the first poets who wrote in modern Persian, and she is, along with Mahsatī Dabīra Ganja'ī, among a very few female writers of medieval Persia to be recorded in history by name. When her father died, his son Hāres, brother of Rābi'a, inherited his position. According to legend, Hāres had a Turkic slave named Baktāsh, with whom his sister was secretly in love. At a court party, Hāres heard Rābi'a's secret. He imprisoned Baktāsh in a well, cut the jugular vein of Rābi'a and imprisoned her in a bathroom. She wrote her final poems with her blood on the wall of the bathroom until she died. Baktāsh escaped the well, and as soon as got the news about Rābi'a, he went to the governor’s office and assassinated Hāres. He then committed suicide.
^H. Rowley/P. Weis, Journal of Semitic studies, Vol. 23-24, Oxford University Press, 1978, p. 139
^ abG. Lindberg-Wada, Literary History: Towards a Global Perspective, Gruyter; 1st ed., 2006, p. 204: "This does not mean that no women composed poetry [...] but the system kept obviously such efforts out of sight. The very few whom we know by name are more legendary than real, for example Rabi'a bint Ka'b Quzdari ..."
^ abIndo-Iranica, Vol. 2, Iran Society India, Calcutta, 1947, p. 39
Contemporary Persian and Classical Persian are the same language, but writers since 1900 are classified as contemporary. At one time, Persian was a common cultural language of much of the non-Arabic Islamic world. Today it is the official language of Iran, Tajikistan and one of the two official languages of Afghanistan.