(Sha’waanah [rahimahallah] – Part One)

Sha’waanah (rahimahallah) was a dark-skinned woman who lived in the early centuries of Islam and passed away in the year 175 A.H. She was a very pious woman and an extremely devout servant of Allah Ta‘ala, who would cry very often out of His love and fear. Such was the level of her piety that great luminaries of her time, such as Fudhail bin ‘Iyaadh (rahimahullah), would hold her in high esteem.

She cried so profusely that those around her feared that she might become blind. When they approached her regarding this and expressed their concern to her, she replied, “Becoming blind in this world due to crying is more beloved to me than becoming blind in the Hereafter due to the fire (of Jahannam).”

On another occasion, when someone came to visit her and suggested that she decreases her crying slightly, she cried and said, “By Allah! I (actually) desire to cry until my tears dry up, and thereafter I cry (tears of) blood to such an extent that not a single drop of blood remains in any limb of my body. What (type of) crying do I have (in comparison to this)?” She then continued repeating these words until her eyes rolled back and she fell unconscious.

Once, she travelled to Makkah Mukarramah with her husband. Whenever her husband would become tired whilst making tawaaf he would sit down and she would sit behind him. He would then address Allah Ta‘ala thus, “I am one who is thirsty for Your love. My thirst (for Your love) does not get quenched.” And she would say in Persian, “Every ailment (definitely) has a cure that (may even be so rare and difficult to find that it) grows in the mountains, but the cure of the lovers has not (even) grown in the mountains (i.e. the burning love in the hearts of the lovers of Allah Ta‘ala cannot be satisfied and cured in this world).”

When the great ‘aabid (worshipper) and famous saint, Fudhail bin ‘Iyaadh (rahimahullah), requested her to make du’aa for him, she asked in surprise, “O Fudhail! Do you not have that (type of relationship) between you and Allah Ta‘ala by means of which He (readily) responds to you when you supplicate to Him?” Hearing this, Fudhail (rahimahullah) sighed deeply and fell unconscious.

(Sifatus Safwah vol. 2, pg. 263 and Al-Bidaayah wan Nihaayah vol. 10, pg. 234)


1. The love of Allah Ta‘ala is the true life of the heart and nourishment of the soul. Without the love of Allah Ta‘ala, the heart will never perceive true enjoyment, comfort, happiness and success, and will never truly be alive. Since the main purpose of the heart is to love Allah Ta‘ala, a heart which is devoid of Allah Ta‘ala’s love is even more useless than a body which lacks a soul.

2. Love is a motivating force that not only compels one to fulfil what is binding on him, but further compels him to go the extra mile, beyond the call of duty. Furthermore, in the path of love, there is no obstacle that is too great to overcome or burden that is too heavy to bear. Everything is happily endured for the sake of the beloved. Sha’waanah (rahimahallah) had such a burning love for Allah Ta‘ala that had left her restless and caused her to continuously cry.

3. When it comes to Deen and enjoying a strong relationship with Allah Ta‘ala, an individual’s race, family background, social standing, skin colour, intelligence, gender, etc. do not matter. Rather, it is the favour and acceptance of Allah Ta‘ala that counts. Hence, despite Sha’waanah (rahimahallah) being a female and not having a fair complexion, she enjoyed such a strong relationship and bond of love with Allah Ta‘ala.

4. Although crying is not within a person’s control, hence not an obligation, it is generally a sign of the softness of a person’s heart and an indication of the love and fear of Allah Ta‘ala that is contained within it. Hence, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has explained in a hadeeth that there are two eyes which the fire of Jahannum will not touch; one being that eye which cried out of the fear of Allah Ta‘ala. (Sunan Tirmizi #1639)