(Sha’waanah [rahimahallah] – Part Two)

The piety and greatness of Sha’waanah (rahimahallah) can be gauged from the fact that Imaam Sha’raani (rahimahullah) mentioned that many people would even consider her to be greater than Raabi‘aah Basriyyah (rahimahallah). (Tabaqaatul Akhyaar – Aa’lamun Nisaa vol. 2, pg. 111)

Sha’waanah (rahimahallah) would repeat the following profound and thought-provoking poem very often, and it would cause her as well as those around her to cry:

“The one who is deceived (by this temporary world) is unconcerned about his (everlasting) abode (i.e. the Hereafter).

And soon, on one day (i.e. the Day of Qiyaamah), he will be in fear just as he felt (himself to be) safe (in the world).” (Sifatus Safwah vol. 2, pg. 264)  

Sha’waanah (rahimahallah) once objected to a pious person saying that he denies the love of Allah Ta‘ala. When he replied that he does not deny it, she asked, “Do you love your Rabb?” He replied in the affirmative. She then asked, “Then how do you fear that he does not love you whereas you love him?” He replied, “I love Him because of the fact that He has made me close (to Him) and has given me His recognition. However, I have many sins and I fear that He may not love me on account of what I have done.” Upon hearing this reply, Sha’waanah (rahimahallah) fell unconscious. When she regained consciousness, she exclaimed, “How wonderful!” (Al-Mahabbah lillaah pg. 22)

There was a woman who would serve Sha’waanah (rahimahallah). On one occasion, when she spent the night with her, Sha’waanah (rahimahallah) saw her asleep. She thus shook her and advised her saying, “This (world) is not a place of sleeping. Sleep is only (meant) for the grave.” (Tabaqaatus Soofiyyah pg. 395)

Once, someone asked this very same woman, “What blessings have you attained from serving Sha’waanah (rahimahallah)?” She replied, “Since I have served her, I have no love for the world nor am I concerned about my sustenance. I do not have high regard for any worldly person while being desirous of what (wealth) he possesses, nor have I ever looked down on any Muslim.” (Sifatus Safwah vol. 2, pg. 253)

Despite her ‘ibaadah, piety and high position, Sha’waanah (rahimahallah) was extremely humble and felt nothing of herself. She once said, “Who is Sha’waanah? What is Sha’waanah? She is a sinful black slave woman.” (Sifatus Safwah vol. 2, pg. 263) Moreover, at the time of her death she mentioned that she was afraid of meeting Allah Ta‘ala. When she was asked the reason, she replied, “Due to the fear of my sins.” (Taareekhu Baghdaad vol. 10, pg. 163)

A pious woman mentioned that she had a dream in which she saw that she was ushered into Jannah. She then saw that the people of Jannah were standing at their doors. She asked, “Why are the people of Jannah standing (here)?” Someone replied, “They have come to see a woman who (is coming to Jannah and) Jannah has been decorated for her arrival.” When she asked who the woman was, she was told, “She is a black slave girl from the inhabitants of (the town of) Ubullah named Sha’waanah.” She said, “By Allah! She is my sister (in Deen).” She then saw Sha’waanah (rahimahallah) coming, riding a beautiful, expensive she-camel which was flying in the air. She called out her name and said, “O my sister! Aren’t you seeing my position and your position? Make du‘aa to your Rabb that He may join me with you.” She smiled at her and said, “The time has not yet come for you to come (to join me), but remember two pieces of advice from me; let your heart be constantly concerned (about the Aakhirah) and give preference to the love of Allah Ta‘ala over (all) your (other) desires. (If you do this,) the time of your death will not harm you (i.e. you will be prepared to meet death at any time).” (Ithaafus Saadatil Muttaqeen vol. 10, pg. 138)


1. In an age in which all emphasis and effort is being placed only on materialism, it is imperative for us to remind ourselves and our families about the temporary and fleeting nature of this life and regarding the never-ending, permanent and real abode of the Aakhirah. The greater the awareness and consciousness of the Aakhirah, the easier it becomes for one to live a life of obedience to Allah Ta‘ala.

2. The company of the pious undoubtedly has a very great effect and impact on a person. It can change a person’s entire life and mindset, as is clearly evident in those who have done so – whether in the past or the present. Therefore, those who stayed in the company of Sha’waanah (rahimahallah) were deeply affected by her and would also cry together with her. Furthermore, her company had such an effect on her servant that it made her a person who was always concerned about the Hereafter and totally disinterested in the world.

3. When one carries out good deeds, he should never become proud and think great of himself, no matter how virtuous his deeds may be. Rather, he should remain humble and fearful, hoping and supplicating for the acceptance of his actions. He should also be concerned that his sins should not become an impediment and obstacle for him in the Aakhirah. Despite being such a great and righteous woman, Sha’waanah (rahimahallah) thought nothing of herself and was never proud of her actions.