Abu Rafi'

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Abu Rafi'
Personal Information
TeknonymAbu Rafi'
Place(s) of ResidenceMecca, Medina, Kufa
Death/MartyrdomAfter 40/660-1
Religious Information
Migration toAbyssinia and Medina
Known forThe first author of Fiqh literature

Abū Rāfiʿ (Arabic: اَبو رافِع) (d. after 40/660-1) is a famous companion of the Prophet (s) and his servant who later was freed and became the head of the clan of Al Abi Rafi'. Al-Najashi counted him among "al-salaf al-salih" (righteous pioneers [in Islam]).

During the reign of Imam 'Ali (a), he was the treasurer of Kufa.


Abu Rafi' was a Copt (special tribe in Egypt).[1] Different reports about his name has been quoted in various books. Names such as: Aslam, Ibrahim, Thabit, Hurmuz,[2] Sinan, Qaraman, Salih, Yazid, Yasar, and 'Abd al-Rahman are reported as his name.[3] However, in most of the sources Aslam is mentioned as his name.[4]

As a Slave

At first, Abu Rafi' was al-'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib's slave. Al-'Abbas gave him to the Prophet (s). When Abu Rafi' told the Prophet (s) that al-'Abbas embraced Islam, the Prophet (s) freed him as a reward of his good news.[5] Abu Rafi' embraced Islam in Mecca before Hijra to Abyssinia.[6]

Immigration to Abyssinia

He was among the Muslims who immigrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) under the leadership of Ja'far b. Abu Talib to get away from the hostility of pagans of Quraysh.

Immigration to Mecca

It's commonly believed that Abu Rafi' not only did not immigrate with the Prophet (s) to Medina, but also stayed there until the Battle of Badr after which he joined the Prophet (s) in Medina.[7] However, there is another narration that contradict this report. After that he entered Medina, the Prophet (s) married him to his female slave –Salma- and 'Ubayd Allah was born from them.[8]

Participation in Battles

Abu Rafi' participated in all of the battles after he immigrated to Medina.[9] He was counted among the Holy Prophet's (s) close companions to the point that the Prophet (s) said "every prophet has a trustee and my trustee is Abu Rafi'."[10]

During the Imamate of Imam 'Ali (a)

After the demise of the Prophet (s), Abu Rafi' became a companion of Imam 'Ali (a). He was one of Imam 'Ali's (a) companions until Imam took over the caliphate. When Mu'awiya from Syria and Talha and Zubayr from Basra rose up against Imam 'Ali's (a) caliphate, Abu Rafi' said that the Prophet (s) had already foretold him this incident and said that 'Ali (a) is right and his opponents are wrong.[11]

Immigration to Kufa

When he was 85, he sold his house and his lands in Khaybar and Medina and immigrated along with Imam 'Ali (a) to Kufa.[12] It was then that he said "all praise is due to Allah that I reach a position that no one else has reached to; because I swore two allegiances: al-'Aqaba and Ridwan. I prayed toward two Qiblas and I immigrated thrice."[13] In Kufa, he was appointed by Imam 'Ali (a) as the treasurer of the treasury of Kufa and his two sons –'Ali and 'Ubayd Allah- started working as Imam's (s) scribes.[14]

After the Martyrdom of Imam 'Ali (a)

According to a narration, Abu Rafi' was alive in the time of Imam al-Hasan's (a) caliphate and returned to Medina along with Imam al-Hasan (a) after the martyrdom of Imam 'Ali (a). If this narration is credible, he should have been over 90 years old at that time.

Because Abu Rafi' had sold his land and house in Medina; when he returned to Medina, Imam al-Hasan (a) gave him a half of Imam 'Ali's (a) house and a piece of land located on outskirts of Medina.[15] After his demise, his son -'Ubayd Allah- sold the land for 170,000 (probably dirhams).[16]


There are different reports about his demise date:

  • Some said that he passed away in the year that Imam 'Ali (a) was martyred.[17]
  • Al-Waqidi said: " he passed away a while before or after 'Uthman.[18]
  • Some also said that he passed away during Imam 'Ali's (a) reign[19].

But according to a narration ,quoted by al-Najashi, he had relations with Imam al-Hasan (a) and returned back to Medina with him so he was alive after the martyrdom of Imam 'Ali (a) and lived more than 90 years.

Narrator of Hadith

Numerous narrations have been quoted from Abu Rafi' by his children and wife -Salma- and others.[20] Muslims, especially Shi'a have placed him among the reliable narrators of hadith.

Writing the First Jurisprudential Book

Abu Rafi' tried to gather, compile and classify hadiths. He compiled the book al-Sunan wa l-ahkam wa l-qadaya.[21] He is –apparently- the first person in the history of Islam who has written a jurisprudential book.

This book includes chapters of: prayer (salat), fasting, hajj, zakat, and judiciary. Narrations from Imam 'Ali (a) can be found in the book.[22]

See Also


  1. Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istīʿāb, vol. 4, p. 1656.
  2. Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istīʿāb, vol. 4, p. 1656.
  3. Baḥr al-ʿUlūm, al-Fawāʾid al-rijālīyya, vol. 1, p. 201.
  4. Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istīʿāb, vol. 4, p. 1656.
  5. Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istīʿāb, vol. 4, p. 1656; Madanī, al-Darajāt al-rafīʿa, p. 373.
  6. Ḥillī, Īḍāḥ al-ishtibah, p. 80.
  7. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 4, p. 55.
  8. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 4, p. 55.
  9. Muwaḥḥid Abṭahī, Tahdhīb al-maqāl, vol. 1, p. 167.
  10. Qummī, al-Kunā wa l-alqāb, vol. 1, p. 77.
  11. Najāshī, Rijāl al-Najāshī, p. 5.
  12. Najāshī, Rijāl al-Najāshī, p. 5.
  13. Najāshī, Rijāl al-Najāshī, p. 5.
  14. ʿIddat min al-ʿulama, al-Uṣūl al-sitta ʿashar, p. 171.
  15. Najāshī, Rijāl al-Najāshī, p. 5.
  16. Najāshī, Rijāl al-Najāshī, p. 4
  17. Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istīʿāb, vol. 1, p. 85.
  18. Baḥr al-ʿUlūm, al-Fawāʾid al-rijālīyya, vol. 1, p. 203.
  19. Ibn Ḥajar, al-Iṣāba, vol. 4. P. 67.
  20. Muwaḥḥid Abṭahī, Tahdhīb al-maqāl, vol. 1, p. 168.
  21. Najāshī, Rijāl al-Najāshī, p. 4
  22. Ḥasanī, Tārīkh al-fiqh al-Jaʿfarī, vol. 2, p. 283.


  • Baḥr al-ʿUlūm, Muḥammad al-Mahdī al-. Al-Fawāʾid al-rijālīyya. Edited by Sayyid Muḥammad Ṣādiq and Ḥusayn Baḥr al-ʿUlūm. Tehran: Maktabat al-Ṣādiq, 1363 Sh.
  • Ḥaskānī, ʿUbayd Allāh b. ʿAbd Allāh al-.Shawāhid al-tanzīl li-qawāʿid al-tafḍīl. Edited by Muḥammad Bāqir Maḥmūdī. Tehran: Majmaʿ Iḥyāʾ al-Thiqāfat al-Islāmī, 1411 AH.
  • Ḥillī, al-Ḥasan b. Yūsuf al-. Īḍāḥ al-ishtibah. Edited by Muḥammad Ḥasūn. Qom: Muʾassisat al-Nashr al-Islāmī, 1411 AH.
  • Ibn Ḥajar, al-ʿAsqalānī, Aḥmad b. ʿAlī. Al-Iṣāba fī tamyīz al-ṣaḥāba. Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, 1328 AH.
  • Ibn Saʿd, Muḥammad b. Manīʿ al-Ḥāshimī al-Baṣrī. Al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā. Edited by Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Qādir ʿAṭā. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 1410 AH-1990.
  • Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, Yūsuf b. ʿAbd Allāh. Al-Istīʿāb fī maʿrifat al-aṣḥāb. Edited by ʿAlī Muḥammad al-Bajāwī. Beirut: Dār al-Jīl, 1412 AH.
  • ʿIddat min al-ʿulama. Al-Uṣūl al-sitta ʿashar. Edited by Ḍīyāʾ al-Dīn Maḥmūdī, Niʿmat Allāh Jalīlī,
  • Maʿrūf al-Ḥasanī, Hāshim. Tārīkh al-fiqh al-Jaʿfarī. Beirut: 1973.
  • Madanī al-Shīrāzī, al-Sayyid ʿAlī Khān al-. Al-Darajāt al-rafīʿa fī ṭabaqāt al-Shīʿa. Edited by al-Sayyid Muḥammad Ṣādiq Baḥr al-ʿUlūm. Qom: Manshūrāt Maktabat Baṣīratī, 1397 AH.
  • Muwaḥḥid Abṭahī, Muḥammad ʿAlī. Tahdhīb al-maqāl. Qom: Ibn al-Muʾallif, 1417 AH.
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  • Qummī, Shaykh ʿAbbās. Al-Kunā wa l-alqāb. Tehran: Maktabat al-Ṣadr, 1368 Sh.