Nafisa at-Tahira

Nafisa at-Tahira

Nafisa at-Tahira

Rare Lady Saint of the Egpytians

[Excerpted from From the Light of Ahl al-Bayt: My Spiritual Experiences Unveiled]

by Imam Metawalli ash-Sha`rawi

Sayyida Nafisa was born in Makkah on the 11th of Rabi`a al-Awwal, the same night that the Prophet (s) was born, in the year 145 H. Her father had been appointed governor of Madinat al-Munawwara in the year 150 H. She accompanied her father to Madina at the tender age of five. There she memorized the entire Qur`an and studied Islamic jurisprudence in depth. Being extremely intelligent she also became adept in explaining the Qur`an despite her young age.

She was the daughter of al-Hasan al-Anwar, the son of Zaid al-Ablaj, son of al-Imam al-Hasan (r), brother of al-Imam al-Husayn (r), son of the Daughter of the Prophet (s) Sayyida Fatimat al-Zahra (r). She is from the family of the Prophet (s) about which Allah said in the Holy Qur`an “Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying.” [33: 33]

Young Nafisa frequented the grave of her grandfather the Prophet (s) (mulazamat qabri jaddiha al-Mustafa). The People of Madina loved her deeply. She became renowned for her abstemiousness (zuhd) and piety (taqwa), for fasting the day, spending the nights in prayer and for her excessive devotion to worshipping Allah (swt).

Sayyida Nafisa had many titles by which she was known among the people, derived from her many different miracles (karamat ). She is known as Nafisat al-`ilmi wal-ma`rifat, (the Rare Lady of Knowledge and Gnosis) because of what she achieved and accumulated from knowledge of the Family of the Holy Prophet (s). She is called Nafisat al-Tahira, the Rare Lady of Purity, and Nafisat al-`Abida, the Rare Worshipful Lady, and Nafisat al-Darayn, the “Rare one among ladies in this life and the next”, and Sahibat al-Karamat, “the Lady of Miracles”, and Sayyidat Ahl al-Fatwa, “the Leading Lady in deriving rulings and verdicts”, and Umm al-Awaajiz, “the Mother of Elderly Women”, and Nafisat al-Masriyyin, “the Rare Lady of the Egyptians”, because of the Egyptian people’s intense love for her and her love for them, and her being their recourse for their every problem – collectively and individually.

Sayyida Nafisa used to pray the five prayers regularly behind her father in Masjid an-Nabawi (s) from the age of six. Her father used to take her by the hand and enter inside the room of the grave of the Holy Prophet (s), which is the house of Sayyida `Ayesha (r). He would address the Prophet (s) directly saying: “Ya Rasullullah!, O Beloved Prophet of Allah! I am pleased with my daughter Nafisa!” He continued these visits repeatedly until one day the Prophet (s) appeared to him in a dream saying to him, “Ya Hasan, I am pleased with your daughter Nafisa, because you are pleased with her, and Allah is pleased with her because I am pleased with her.


Here Imam Metawalli Ash-Sha`rawi has elucidated the true meaning of intercession (shafa`a) in the understanding of the scholars and saints (awliya) of Islam, showing that it is a method chosen by the early spiritual pioneers of Islam (as-salaf as-salih) as the most excellent means of approach to Allah and His good pleasure – the path to perfection and purification.

On the 5th of Rajab, 161 H. at the age of sixteen years, Nafisa married her cousin Ishaq al-Mu’taman, a direct descendant of Imam al-Husayn (s). She bore from him a son named Al-Qassim (r) and a daughter they named Umm-Kulthum (r).

She performed hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) thirty times ‑ most of them on foot. She would say, “I am following my grandfather Imam al-Husayn (r) in doing that, for he said, ‘I feel shy to meet my Lord having never walked to His House,'” for which reason he used to make the pilgrimage walking.

It is said that on her circumambulation around the Ka`aba, she asked Allah (swt) “O Allah! be satisfied with me (mati`ani bi-ridaaka `annee), I see nothing that veils You from me.”

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