Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah

Zainab bint ‘Ali
June 13, 2018
Al Hassan al Muthanna and his son, ‘Abdullah Al Mahd
June 13, 2018

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Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah


A noble Sayyid, intelligent leader, given the gift of the gab, likened to a piercing star, a powerful successor and one of the great valiant martyrs Abu al Qasim Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib al Hashimi al Qurashi, an august personality of the Ahlul Bayt. His mother is Khawlah bint Jafar al Hanafiyyah to whose lineage he is ascribed to, a measure taken to differentiate him from his half-brothers Hassan and Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. He was born during the era of ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu in the 21st year of the hijrah. He is counted amongst those men who together with instilling piety in their hearts held a great amount of knowledge.

Together with this he was a battle commander in many of the battles during the reign of his father ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, most notably the battles of Jamal and Siffin. He was the commander and flag bearer and was tested sorely therein. Though of tender age his father lent heavily on him in these battles which showcased his acute and refined personality.[1]

Ibn Khalikan has dated his birth to 2 years prior to the demise of ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu in his book Wafayat al A’yan. Ibn Sa’d narrates from Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu said to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “If I have a child born to me after you, would you deem it suitable that I name him after your name and give him a teknonym after yours?” Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Yes.” This was therefore a concession for him from Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.[2]

The Banu Hanifah tribe turned apostate during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Khawlah bint Jafar al Hanafiyyah was amongst the prisoners who had come into the lot of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu. From this union Muhammad was born.[3]

Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah rahimahu Llah held a close connection to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu during his trying days and defended him against effects of the rebellion, taking cues from his father. He narrates from his father, “If ‘Uthman commanded me to march to Sirar, I would hear and obey.”[4] Sirar is a place en route to Iraq from Madinah. He further says, “I heard my father praying to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala with his lands lifted high ‘O Allah! Curse the killers of ‘Uthman whether they are on the land or at sea, whether they are on flat plains or mountain regions.’ He repeated this trice.”

‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu would exhort his son Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah rahimahu Llah to fight in the battles moulding him into a fierce warrior who would stand without wavering in the thick of battle. It was once said to him, “Why is it that your father flings you into the battlefield and does not do the same with your brothers, Hassan and Hussain?”

He replied:

لانهما كانا عينيه، وكنت انا يده، فكان يتقي عينيه بيده

They were his eyes and I his hand. He would protect his eyes with his hand.[5]


What a befitting answer!

Ibn al Mubarrad has recorded the following in Al Kamil:


The Roman Emperor sent two herculean athletes to Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu to measure their strength with the Muslim athletes. One of them was tall and corpulent and the other was powerful with a strong grip. Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah to meet the challenge.

Muhammad ibn Hanafiyah said, “Either you should sit down and let me hold your hand so that I may pull you off from your seat, or I may sit down, and you may lift me from my place.”

The Roman said, “You may sit down. Muhammad sat down and let the Roman hold his hand. Despite his best efforts, however, the Roman could not move Muhammad from his place, and acknowledged his weakness. Then Muhammad stood up and the Roman sat down and let Muhammad hold his hand. Muhammad immediately lifted him from his place with one jerk, held him in the air, and then threw him on the ground.”[6]


He was an excellent brother to Hassan and Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhuma just as they were to him. ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu advised them to treat him well as they had come to know how well he treated Muhammad. When Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu passed away; Hussain, Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah, and ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhum entered his grave to lay him down. After the burial Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah rahimahu Llah stood by his grave and with tears flowing from his eyes said:


رحمك الله يا أبا محمد فلئن عزت حياتك لقد هدت وفاتك ولنعم الروح روح تضمنه بدنك ولنعم الجسد جسد تضمنه كفنك ولنعم الكفن كفن تضمنه لحدك وكيف لا تكون كذلك وأنت سليل الهدى وخامس أصحاب الكساء وخلف أهل التقوى وجدك النبى المصطفى وأبوك علي المرتضى وأمك فاطمة الزهراء وعمك جعفر الطيار في جنة المأوى وغذتك أكف الحق وربيت في حجر الإسلام ورضعت ثدى الإيمان فطبت حيا وميتا فلئن كانت الأنفس غير طيبة لفراقك إنها غير شاكة أن قد خير لك وإنك وأخاك لسيدا شباب أهل الجنة فعليك أبا محمد منا السلام

May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala have mercy on you, Abu Muhammad. Your life was noble and your death daunting. Your soul is pure in a body the same, held by a shroud and in a grave that are both enviable as they hold you. They pride in you as you are the descendant of guidance and the fifth wrapped in his robe. You drank from the goblet of piety. Your grandfather is the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, your father ‘Ali al Murtada, your mother Fatimah al Zahra, and your uncle Jafar al Tayyar; in the gardens of paradise. The palms of truth fed you and the Islamic faith nurtured you in its lap. Iman was imbued into you. You are excellent in death as you were in life. Though the self, grasps at straws in the wake of your death, it does not complain knowing that what lay beyond is better for you. You and your brother are the princes of the youth in Jannat. We bid you farewell Abu Muhammad.[7]


When Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu intended leaving for Kufah, Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah rahimahu Llah advised him against going and said:

I swear by Allah you are the most honoured of the people that roam this earth my brother and I advise you as a well-wisher. Do not go to these cities, rather live in the villages and desserts. Call on the people that claim to support you and when they pledge allegiance at your hand, enter the city. If you wish to live in a city, then head to Makkah and if you do not find therein what pleases you then head to the mountain ranges. Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied, “May Allah reward you immensely, you have advised and shown compassion.”[8]


As far as the unrest of Mukhtar goes, the happenings were marred by his hypocritical nature. Hafiz ibn Hajar writes:

Ibn Zubair sent Mukhtar to Kufah to solidify his pledge of allegiance, however he portrayed Ibn Zubair to be on the trail of the killers of Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu. To emphasize his stance Mukhtar claimed that Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah was the Mahdi that will emerge at the end of times and he had in fact commanded the pledge of loyalty. Mukhtar fabricated lies and attributed it to Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah. Many people followed Mukhtar and he was strengthened. They found and murdered the killers of Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu which reinforced his apparent stance in loving the Ahlul Bayt.[9]


Al Shahrastani has mentioned that Mukhtar was gunning for the leadership of Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah rahimahu Llah after ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu. When Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah rahimahu Llah came to know of this he at once distanced himself from the claim. ‘Abdul Qadir al Baghdadi states:

The news reached Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah rahimahu Llah who feared a tribulation in Islam due to Mukhtar. He intended to go to Iraq to break them off from the falsities of Mukhtar and turn them towards himself. When Mukhtar heard of this he feared his own position and concocted a story for the people saying, “I have pledged to Mahdi, however there is a test to whoever claims to be Mahdi. He will be swung at with a sword and if it does not cut him then he is true in his claim.” When this reached Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah rahimahu Llah he remained in Makkah fearing for his life if he travelled to Kufah.[10]


From this group a new deviant sect was born, the Kaysaniyyah. They were unanimous of the leadership of Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah during his life time, however after his death they split into different factions. Some believed that he had truly passed away and transferred the leadership to another, whilst others said him to be alive and at the Radwa mountain with two streams of water and honey. They believed that provisions come to him daily with angels who speak to him whilst he has on his right a lion and on his left a leopard! They protect him from his enemies till the time of his emergence. He is the one that will kill Dajjal, guide the masses, and bring peace to the earth. He is not dead, and he will not die till the earth witnesses nothing but peace and justice.

Al Humairi, who was from the faction that awaited his return says the following:

فحتى متى تخفى وأنت قريب

يا شعب رضوى قاطن بك لا يرى
وكنيه نفسي عليك تذوب

يا بن الوصي ويا سمي محمد

منا النفوس بأنه سيؤوب

فلو غاب عنا عمر نوح لا يقنت

 O inhabitant of Radwa who cannot be seen; till when will you hide whereas you are so close.

O son of ‘Ali and carrier of Muhammad’s name and teknonym, my heart melts for you.

If you were to disappear the life span of Nuh; I would still be convinced of your return.


Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah rahimahu Llah left this worldly abode at the beginning of Muharram, the year eighty-one. Al Waqidi says. “I asked ‘Abdullah ibn al Hanafiyyah, where is your father buried? He replied in the Baqi’ graveyard in the 81st year of the hijrah in the month of Muharram, at the age of sixty-five.”[11]

These are some scattered pearls and droplets of perfume from the life of this great man Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib rahimahu Llah.


May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala enshroud him with his choicest mercies and raise his stages in Jannat.


NEXT⇒Al Hassan al Muthanna and his son, Abdullah Al Mahd

[1] Tabaqat ibn Sa’d, vol. 5 pg. 92 onwards; Al Nujum al ‘Awali li al ‘Asami, vol. 1 pg. 490.

[2] Abu Dawood, 4967; Jami’ al Tirmidhi, 2843; Musnad Imam Ahmed, 730; Al Adab al Mufrad, 843. Al Albani has deemed it authentic in Sahih Abu Dawood, 4967.

[3] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 7 pg. 368; Majmu’ al Fatawa of Ibn Taymiyyah, vol. 28 pg. 554.

[4] Tarikh al Madinah, Ibn Shabba al Numairi vol. 4 pg. 1201.

[5] Al Mustatraf fi Kulli Fan al Mustazraf, Chapter mentioning the name of the brave.

[6] Al Kamil

[7] Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 13 pg. 296; Tahdhib al Kamal vol. 6 pg. 255; Tahdhib al Tahdhib, vol. 6 pg. 255; Jamharah Khutub al ‘Arab of Ahmed Zaki Safwat vol. 2 pg. 31.

[8] Al Bidayah wa Al Nihayah, vol. 8 pg. 148.

[9] Al Isabah, vol. 6 pg. 351.

[10] Al Farq Bayn al Firaq, of ‘Abdul Qahir al Baghdadi, vol. 1 pgs. 33/34.

[11] Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 4 pg. 182.

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