Nafisa at-Tahira

She memorized the Qur`an and its explanation. It is said that when she recited Qur`an she would pray, “O Allah make it easy for me to visit the grave of Sayiddina Ibrahim al-Khalil,” for she knew he was the father of prophets and father of her grandfather Prophet Muhammad (s). She knew that the mission of her grandfather Prophet Muhammad (s) was due to the prayer of Ibrahim (as), when he said, “Our Lord! And raise up in their midst a messenger from among them who shall recite unto them Thy revelations, and shall instruct them in the Scripture and in wisdom and shall purify them. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Mighty, Wise.” [2: 125]

Visit to Ibrahim al-Khalil (as)

It was only after many years that Allah (swt) answered that prayer making it possible for Sayyida Nafisa to visit the grave of al-Khalil, the Prophet Ibrahim (as) (in Palestine). When she finally arrived, she sat there in front of his grave weeping and reciting, “And when Ibrahim said: My Lord! make this city secure, and save me and my sons from worshipping idols:” [14: 35]

As Sayyida Nafisa sat in front of the grave of Ibrahim al-Khalil (as), reciting the Qur`an, she felt an intense presence, almost tangible, and saw the image of Sayyidina Ibrahim (as) in front of her. Of that moment she said, “My heart began to beat harder and my eyes to blink.” She called upon him saying “O my grandfather! – Ya Jiddee!” in the present tense. “I came to you in body and spirit…. as my soul has come to you before many times, I now come to you in body as well. I seek your good pleasure with me and I seek your guidance and instruction in order that I may worship Allah until my dying breath.” At that moment she heard a voice emerging from the image of Sayyidina Ibrahim which was before her saying, “Good tidings my granddaughter! You are chosen to be one of the sanctified, worshipful maidservants of your Lord. My advice to you is to recite Surat al-Muzammil, wherein Allah says, “O thou folded in garments! Stand (to prayer) by night, but not all night,…” [73:1] until its end and seek to meditate on what you recite.

“By reciting this chapter you will be guided to the forms of worship and devotion that contain no hardship, as Allah said, ‘Allah does not burden any soul with more than it can bear.’ O my granddaughter! The intensity of your worship has made your body weak – try to keep everything in balance.”

Zainab bint Yahya, Sayyida Nafisa’s niece, accompanied her throughout her life as her assistant, staying with her even after her marriage until her passing. Zainab relates that Sayiddina Ibrahim continued guiding her, saying, “Read the verse ‘Thy Lord doth know that thou standest forth (to prayer) nigh two-thirds of the night, or half the night, or a third of the night, and so doth a party of those with thee…’” [73:20] until the end of Surat al-Muzzamil.’

Know that Allah made the night prayers voluntary, after it had been made obligatory on the Prophet (s), for He(swt) knows that many of His servants are engaged during the day in the struggle to educate people in God’s Way, or working for their provision, and this work therefore is a form of worship. Have mercy on yourself and give yourself a chance to rest in order to have strength for the next day. You are already considered among the first ranks of the pious.”

At that time she said, “O my great-grandfather  I am going to fulfill your instructions. And I wish from your pure soul to grant to my soul purity and refinement until I meet Allah (swt) and He is pleased with me.” She heard the voice of Sayiddina Ibrahim saying “O my granddaughter, Good tidings for you, Allah inspired to me that He has accepted your du`a. And I will accompany you until we meet in the world of souls in the everlasting life, and we meet on the Judgment Day. Then he recited the verse, “And fear the Day when ye shall be brought back to Allah. Then shall every soul be paid what it earned, and none shall be dealt with unjustly.” [2: 281]

Relocation to Cairo

When Sayyida Nafisa was 44 years old she moved to Cairo. She arrived on the 26th of Ramadan in the year 193 H. On her way, she passed through the city of Arriche. When people knew of her arrival, they rushed forth en masse to meet her, for her renown as a devout worshipper and lady saint had preceded her. Historians say the men and women of Egypt went to receive her in a huge procession, riding on horses, camels, donkeys and on foot; waiting overnight in tents; greeting her in the morning with the chanting of ‘la ilaha ill-Allah’ and ‘Allahu akbar’, and accompanying her in a huge procession from Arriche to Cairo, according her great dignity and respect.

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