Nafisah bint al Hassan

Al Hassan al Muthanna and his son, ‘Abdullah Al Mahd
June 13, 2018
Muhammad al Mahdi
June 13, 2018

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Nafisah bint al Hassan


A pious woman of high standing, a branch off the tree of prophethood, and a daughter of the Hassaniyyah family. Nafisah bint al Amir Hassan ibn Zaid ibn Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib al Qurashiyyah al Hashimiyyah radiya Llahu ‘anhum.

Her father is Sayed Amir Hassan ibn Zaid ibn Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhum. He was a scholar of repute and the governor of Madinah for five years in the era of Mansur. He was then accused and slandered which Mansur believed and had him taken out of office. He further took possession of his wealth and belongings and imprisoned him in Baghdad. Hassan ibn Zaid remained in prison till the death of Mansur whereupon the Abbasid Khalifah Mahdi ascended the seat of rule. Mahdi exonerated him, honoured him by returning his wealth and belongings, and keeping him by his side even performing the pilgrimage with him. His demise was in the 168th year of the hijrah at the age of 85. ‘Ali ibn al Mahdi performed his funeral prayer.[1]

Her grandfather is Zaid ibn Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhum. He narrated hadith from his father, Jabir, and Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhum. His son narrates from him. He would come every week for the Friday prayer from a distance of eight miles. When he would mount his conveyance, people would be awestruck at his gargantuan size and say, “His grandfather was Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.”

Her husband is Ishaq ibn Jafar al Sadiq ibn Muhammad al Baqir ibn ‘Ali ibn Zayn al ‘Abidin ibn Hussain ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhum. He was a pious and noble man inclined to goodness. This couple were blessed with two children namely, Qasim and Umm Kulthum. They however had no offspring.[2]

Nafisah was born in Makkah on Wednesday, the 11th of Rabi’ al Awwal in the 145th year of the Hijrah. Her father Hassan ibn Zaid was smitten with her and overjoyed at her birth. They however did not remain in Makkah for long as they left for Madinah when her father was made the governor.

This caravan of the descendants of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam left Makkah and travelled to the city of Madinah where people eagerly awaited their arrival. They entered Madinah on a Friday and were thronged by the children of the Muhajirin and Ansar, who were delighted at their arrival and appointment in office. Nafisah’s upbringing took place in the Masjid of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, surrounded by giants of knowledge, worship, and saints. Her childhood was spent with the grandchildren of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and she took to their path, memorising the Qur’an and studying to understand its meanings. Similarly, she memorised many of the ahadith of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

When she entered her youth, her cousin Ishaq ibn Jafar al Sadiq proposed for her hand. She gracefully accepted, and the union was sanctified by the nikah ritual in the beginning of Rajab the year 161 A.H.

When her father left the post of governor, her husband replaced him. She is therefore known as the daughter and wife of governors from the Ahlul Bayt.

Sayyidah Nafisah lived in Madinah teaching people and disseminating her profound knowledge. Her home was opened to the students of knowledge where they would quench their thirst and narrate the ahadith of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. She would pass judgments in the matters of faith and day to day life. She came to be known as the wise and knowledgeable Nafisah.

In the year 194 A.H, Sayyidah Nafisah travelled to Egypt with her father and husband. They settled in Fustat in the home of Ibn al Jassas, a well-respected nobleman of Egypt. They then moved to the home of Umm Hani’ in the Qarafah area. She was welcomed with open arms and the townspeople were pleased at the arrival of the grandchildren of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Ibn Kathir writes:


Nafisah, together with her husband al Mu’tamin Ishaq ibn Jafar came to the Egyptian cities and settled there. She was a woman of considerable wealth and did much humanitarian work amongst the lepers, terminally ill, and sick. Furthermore, her humanitarian efforts encapsulated the general populous as well. She was a devout worshipper and a woman of immense goodness.[3]


She held a high status amongst the Egyptian people who would go to her seeking knowledge and recognition of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. Great scholars would frequent her house seeking from her deep knowledge. The great Imam al Shafi’i rahimahu Llah would frequent her on matters of knowledge. She was kind and caring towards him. At times he would lead the prayer for her during the month of Ramadan and advised her to perform his funeral prayer.

Safdi writes, “It has been narrated that when Imam al Shafi’i rahimahu Llah came to Egypt he would go to her and narrate ahadith from her. When the Imam al Shafi’i rahimahu Llah passed away his bier was taken to her upon which she prayed.”[4] Ibn Kathir mentions the following, “When he (Imam al Shafi’i) passed away his bier was taken to her house upon which she performed the funeral prayer.”[5]

Ibn al ‘Imad Hanbali narrates from Ibn al Ahdal, “Her lineage, Imam al Shafi’i narrating to and from her, and his bier being taken to her home displays her stature, acceptance, and august personality.”[6]

She was famed for her devout worship and abstinence from worldly affairs to the extent that she became a role model for the perfect Muslim woman. She had attained a lofty stage piety, having done the pilgrimage thirty times. She would cry profusely, standing in worship at nights and fasting during the days. It was said to her, “Do you not have mercy on yourself?” She replied, “How can I do so, whilst in front of me lies a path only the successful have crossed safely.”[7]

From amongst her prayers to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala the following stands out:


اللهم اني اعوذ بك من كلام السوء و فعل السوء و مراد السوء و جار السوء اللهم لا تكلني الي نفسي فاعجز ولا الي احد من خلقك فاضيع اللهم الهمني رشدي و احسن رفدي و اصلح عشرتي و اغفر زلتي و قني شر وسواس الشيطان و اجرني منه يا رحمان حتي لا يكون علي سلطان و صلي الله علي سيدنا محمد صاحب الشريعة والبرهان آمين

O Allah, I seek protection in you from evil speech, evil actions, evil intentions, and evil neighbours. O Allah do not leave me to my own devices that I be helpless nor to any of your creation that I perish. O Allah inspire me with that which is good for me, make pleasant my support, and correct my family. Forgive my mistakes, save me from the evil whispers of the devil, and save me from him so that he holds no power over me, O Most Merciful. Peace and salutations be upon our master, Muhammad possessor of the faith and proofs.


After seven years in Egypt she took ill, however she bore her illness patiently and would say:


الصَّبر يلازم المؤمن بقدر ما في قلبه من إيمان، وحسب الصابر أن الله معه ، وعلى المؤمن أن يستبشر بالمشاق التي تعترضه، فإنَّها سبيله لرفع درجته عند ربِّه، وقد جعل الله الأجر على قدر المشقة، والله يضاعف لمن يشاء ، والله واسع عليم

Patience is in accordance to the amount of faith in one’s heart. It is sufficient for a patient one to know that Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala is with them. A believer should be happy with difficulties that came his way as it is a means of raising one’s status in the sight of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. Reward is given in relation to the suffering and Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala increases many-fold for whomsoever he wishes. And Allah is all-Encompassing and all-Knowing.


Sayyidah Nafisah realised that her time to leave this world had come close so she called for her husband, Ishaq ibn Jafar al Sadiq, who was far off at the time. She was fasting the day she passed away. When her illness had intensified, and her end was near, those around her insisted that she break her fast and have mercy on herself. She, however refused to do so saying, “I have prayed to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala for thirty years to meet him whilst I am fasting, do you want me to break my fast now?” She then began reciting from Surah al An’am till she reached the verse:


لَهُمْ دَارُ السَّلَامِ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَهُوَ وَلِيُّهُم بِمَا كَانُوْا يَعْمَلُوْنَ

For them will be the Home of Peace with their Lord. And He will be their protecting friend because of what they used to do.[8]


Her soul left her body to continue its journey to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala in the month of Ramadan, 220 A.H.

The people of Egypt wept at her demise and were grieved to no end. When her husband came he wished to transfer her body to Madinah, however the people of Egypt requested him to bury her near them. She was thus buried in Egypt in the house she lived.[9] Al Dhahabi says, “Not much has reached us regarding her life.”[10]

There was great influence in introducing innovations of evil and polytheist behaviour at her grave and burial site during the rule of the Fatimids in Egypt. A monument was built upon her grave and decorated, fake tales of bygone days were fabricated which led the masses to immortalize her shrine, praying to it in times of difficulty and at times prostrating to it!

The scholars of that era left no stone unturned in educating the masses on the evils of their actions in relation to her newly erected shrine and warning them of the consequences if they did not refrain from such innovations.


Imam Dhahabi rahimahu Llah writes:

The ignorant Egyptians have faith in her shrine which is impermissible, as this leads them to polytheism. They prostrate to her grave and seek forgiveness from her, a result of the Ubaidiyyah’s (Fatimid’s) interpolation.[11]


Hafiz ibn Kathir rahimahu Llah says:

Up to this day many people have incorrect beliefs regarding her and the likes of her, particularly the general masses of Egypt. Rash and repugnant utterances which lead to disbelief and polytheism are a common occurrence which are totally impermissible. At times they wrongly attribute such statements to Zayn al ‘Abidin rahimahu Llah. The belief regarding her should be the same as that which is held regarding other pious women. Know well, extremism in the acts around the graves of the pious lead to idol worship. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has commanded that graves be levelled. Exceeding the bounds and believing that those in the grave cause benefit or harm without the will of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala is polytheism. May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala have mercy on her and honour her.[12]


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[1] Al ‘Ibar fi Khabar min Ghabar li al Dhahabi, vol. 1 pg. 66; Wafi bi al Wafayat, vol. 27 pg. 101.

[2] Al Mawa’iz wa al I’tibar, vol. 3 pg. 208.

[3] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 10 pg. 286.

[4] Wafi bi al Wafayat, vol. 27 pg. 101

[5] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 10 pg. 286.

[6] Shadharat al Dhahab, vol. 2 pg. 21.

[7] Al Mawa’iz wa al I’tibar, vol. 3 pg. 208.

[8] Surah al An’am: 128.

[9] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 10 pg. 286.

[10] Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 10 pg. 106.

[11] Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 10 pg. 106.

[12] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 10 pg. 286.

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