Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya (Arabic: محمد بن الحنفية) (b. 16/637-8 - d. 81/700-1), the son of Ali b. Abi Talib (a) and Khawla al-Hanafiyya (the daughter of Ja'far b. Qays), was among the first group of Tabi'un. He was born by the time of the caliphate of 'Umar b. al-Khattab and passed away when he was sixty-five by the time of the caliphate of 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan.
He is also regarded as Muhammad b. 'Ali or Muhammad al-Akbar, and his kunya (teknonym) was Abu al-Qasim. He took part in the battles of Siffin and Jamal, and was the standard-bearer of Imam 'Ali's (a) army in the latter. He stayed in Medina at the event of Karbala.
Following to Imam al-Husayn's (a) refusal to swear allegiance to Yazid, Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya suggested his brother to set off for Mecca to protect his life, and to Yemen if he was also threatened in Mecca, and to take shelter in deserts or mountains in case he was even troubled in Yemen. Imam al-Husayn (a) appreciated his suggestion and said; 'Dear brother, you are free to remain in Medina, so that you can keep your eyes on my enemy and report me of their affairs.'
After the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a), he initially claimed his Imamate (leadership), but having heard the testimony of al-Hajar al-Aswad to the Imamate of Imam al-Sajjad (a), he disclaimed and believed in the leadership of his nephew.
Kaysanites believed in him as their Imam, and according to his letter to Al-Mukhtar, they rescued him from 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr. He was the first person who was believed by some to be the Promised Mahdi (the savior). He had a very peaceful political orientation in his life. Read more...