Shahrbanu

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Shahrbanu
wife of Imam al-Husayn (a)
and mother of Imam al-Sajjad (a)
Epithet Jahanshah, Shah-i Zanan
Lineage daughter of Yazdgerd III
Cause of
Death/Martyrdom
passed away in the time of birth of Imam al-Sajjad (a)

Shahrbanu or Shah-i Zanan was an Iranian wife of Imam al-Husayn (a) based on a number of narrations .

According to a number of historians and hadith scholars after the conquest of Iran by Muslims, Shahrbanu married Imam al-Husayn (a). She was also the mother of Imam al-Sajjad (a). Based on more reliable sources, Shahrbanu passed away in the birth of Imam al-Sajjad (a).

A number of historical sources mentioned that Shahrbanu was the daughter of Yazdgerd III, the last Sassanid king. Some sources only mentioned that she was an Iranian woman. Some also cast doubt on the notion that she was the wife of Imam al-Husayn (a).

Lineage

There are disagreements amongst historians on the name of Shahrbanu's father. Most of them mentioned that Shahrbanu was the daughter of Yazdgerd III, the last Sassanid king, including al-Ya'qubi, al-Nawbakhti, al-Ash'ari al-Qummi, Hasan b. Muhammad al-Qummi, Ibn Abi Thalj al-Baghdadi, Ibn Hayyun and Khalifa b. Khayyat in the third/ninth century, as well as al-Kulayni, al-Shaykh al-Mufid and al-Shaykh al-Saduq in the fourth/tenth century Afterwards most of historians and hadith scholars followed the mentioned narrations and regarded the mother of Imam al-Sajjad (a) as the daughter of Yazdgerd III.

Al-Shaykh al-Mufid in al-Muqni'a and al-Shaykh al-Tusi in al-Tahdhib mentioned the name of Yazdgerd's daughter as the mother of Imam al-Sajjad (a). While some historians and hadith scholars mentioned that an Iranian woman was the mother of Imam al-Sajjad (a) but she was not the daughter of Yazdgerd III.

In the book Majma' al-Tawarikh which includes a large number of narrations, it is said that Sanjan, the king of Persia, was the father of Shahrbanu.

Ibn Shahrashub In Manaqib stated different narrations on the identity of the mother of Imam al-Sajjad (a). In one narration, he said "Nushjan" was the father of Shahrbanu. As al-Irbili quoted from Ibn Khashshab, Nushjan was the name of her father.

Marriage

The reports which cited the marriage of Imam al-Husayn (a) and Shahrbanu have different perspective on its date. They said the marriage took place when Shahrbanu arrived in Medina but there are not enough information on its exact time. There are a number of opinions:

Names

A large number of early sources mentioned that the mother of Imam al-Sajjad (a) was the daughter of Yazdgerd III, the Sassanid king. But they have mentioned different names for her, including:

  • Shahrbanu: (meaning: the lady of city)

Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, al-Tabrisi in Taj al-Mawalid, al-Shaykh al-Mufid (in al-Irshad as a probable name), al-Saffar al-Qummi, al-Tabari, Ibn Tawus, Ibn Abi l-Thalj al-Baghdadi and Ibn Dawud said that her name was initially Shahrbanu. After citing a number of names, al-Irbili mentioned Shahrbanu as her name as well.

  • Salama:

Al-Kulayni and Ibn Kathir mentioned her name as Salama.

  • Salafa:

Al-Baladhuri stated that she was from Sijistan and her name was Salafa.

  • Jahanshah (meaning: the king of world):

Al-Mas'udi and al-Shaykh al-Mufid in Al-Muqni'a cited her name Jahanshah.

  • Shah-i Zanan (meaning: the King of women):

Al-Shaykh al-Mufid in Al-Irshad and al-Tabrisi in A'lam al-wara mentioned her name as Shah-i Zanan. They also mentioned Shahrbanu as her possible name. But al-Fattal al-Niyshaburi initially stated Shah-i Zanan as her name and then he mentioned a number of other names. Al-Thaqafi al-Kufi also mentioned Shah-i Zanan as the name of the mother of Imam al-Sajjad (a).

  • Shahrnaz:

The author of Majma' al-Tawarikh wa l-Qisas mentioned her name Shahrnaz.

  • Harrar:

Al-Ya'qubi said her name was Harrar and it changed to 'Uzala.

A number of sources stated that she was a concubine.

Criticism

Although a large number of historians have mentioned that Shahrbanu was the mother of Imam al-Sajjad (a) and the daughter of Yazdgerd III, contemporary historians cast doubt on this idea, including Mortaza Motahhari, Ali Shari'ati, Dihkhuda, Shahidi, Yusefi Gharawi, Taqi zadih and Christensen who are among those who have different ideas.

Sayyid Ja'far Shahidi in his book The Life of 'Ali ibn al-Husayn (a) has mentioned and discussed this report and finally rejected it.

Reasons of doubts

  • A number of historical researches mentioned that the mother of Imam al-Sajjad (a) was a concubine from Sistan, Sind or Kabul.
  • None of the historians have mentioned Shahrbanu's name among the children of Yazdgerd the last Sassanid king. Only al-Mas'udi mentioned the names of the three daughters of Yazdgerd as Adark, Shahin and Muravand.

Critics' Perspective

Sayyid Ja'far Shahidi stated on Shahrbanu:

"al-Mansur al-Dawaniqi has applied "Umm Walad" on the mother of Imam al-Sajjad (a) (concubine) in a letter to Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah (known as Al-Nafs al-Zakiyya) in order to humiliate him. This letter was written fifty years after the demise of Imam al-Sajjad (a) when a large number of Banu Hashim were still alive. If the story of Shahrbanu was real, Al-Mansur would never use the term Umm Walad, or if it was false, Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah would reply his letter sternly to declare that the mother of Imam al-Sajjad (a) was a princess not a concubine."

According to Dihkhuda, researches have shown that Yazdgerd did not have any daughter named as Shahrbanu. Shahrbanu was a story derived from Rabi' al-Abrar by Zamakhshari and Qabusnameh.

Yusufi Gharawi did not accept the claim of al-Ya'qubi and regarded his claim unreliable. Also al-Ya'qubi mentioned the name Harrar which was not a usual name in Persia. He also rejected the report of al-Kafi as it was narrated by "'Amr b. Shimr" who was degraded as Da'if hadith (weak hadith) narrator by al-Najashi. The report of al-Shaykh al-Saduq was narrated by Sahl b. Qasim al-Nushjani whose identity is unknown.

Demise

Based on the reports of the majority of historians, Imam al-Sajjad's mother has passed away in the time of birth of Imam (a).

However Ibn Sa'd believed that she lived after the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a) and married Zuyayd and they had a child named 'Abd Allah. Therefore 'Abd Allah is regarded as maternal brother of Imam al-Sajjad (a).

It is said after the demise of Shahrbanu, a nursemaid named Washika, looked after Imam al-Sajjad (a) and he called her mother as well.

In addition al-Mas'udi said: "When Imam al-Sajjad (a) grew up, he asked Washika to marry one of his servants, which became a reason for Banu Umayya to humiliate 'Ali b. al-Husayn (a)."

References

  • The material for this article is mainly taken from شهربانو in Farsi WikiShia.