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Hafsah bint Sîrîn was one of the famous women of the Tabi’in, successors of the Companions. She was known for her knowledge, piety and wisdom. She died after 100 A.H

Her name and lineage:

Her agnomen (kunyah) was Umm Hudhayl, which means ‘The Mother of Hudhayl’ and her proper name was Hafsah, the daughter of Sireen.  She was the sister of the renowned Successor (Tabi’ee) and scholar, Muhammad ibn Sireen.

To understand the amazing upbringing Hafsah (rahimaha Allah) was given it is important to note that her father was the freed slave of the illustrious Companion: Anas ibn Maalik (radhiAllahu ‘anhu). Anas ibn Maalik was the son of the righteous Sahaabiyyah of Madinah, the Ansaariyyah: Ghumaisah bint Milhaa, also known as Umm Sulaim, the wife of Abu Talhah.

Her connection with anas ibn malik (may Allah be pleased with him)

The illustrious Companion; Anas Ibn Maalik purchased a slave from the Companion of the Prophet (sallallahu a'lyhi wa sallam), Khalid ibnu Waleed (radhiAllahu ‘anhu). This slave had been captured in one of the deserts of Iraq, and his name was Seereen. Overtime he freed himself and his family by paying Anas ibn Maalik a certain amount of wealth, yet truly he could never pay back Anas ibn Maalik for the great beneficial knowledge he and his family gained from him.

A Blessed Marriage with Blessed Offspring:

“Seereen married a pious woman by the name of Safiyyah, who was the freed slave of Abu Bakr (radhiallahu `anhu). Eighteen Sahaabah, who had participated in the battle of Badr, attended their marriage ceremony. Heading these eighteen Sahaabah was Ubayy ibn Ka’b, the great Companion who had collected the Qur’aan into book form and who had witnessed Badr, Uhud and the Pledge of 'Aqabah

The fruit of this marriage was pure in that Allah (a'zza wa jall) blessed them both with a daughter, who they named Hafsah, in 31AH during the Caliphate of Uthmaan (radhiallahu `anhu). She received and was provided with the best nutrition: the spiritual nutrition of the Qur’aan and Sunnah. (At-Tabaqaat (8/193), Tahdheeb Asmaa’ wal Lughaat (1/83) and Al Ma’rifah wa at-Taareekh (3/27).) She had many brothers and sisters, including half-brothers and sisters, all of who became trustworthy narrator (ruwaat thuqaat) of the narrations of the Noble Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). (Please refer to: Tahdheeb Al-Asmaa’ wal-Lughaat (1/83).)

Her brother Muhammad ibn Seereen was also a great scholar and her sister Kareemah bint Seereen was also an a’abidah (worshipper). Mahdee ibnu Maymoon said regarding her sister: “Kareemah bint Seereen, the sister of Hafsah bint Sireen, stayed for fifteen years without leaving her prayer mat except to fulfil a need/the call of nature (li qadhaa’ haajah).” (Sifah As-Safwah, Dhikr Al Mustafiyaat min A’abidaat al Basrah, Vol 2, Page 710.)

A Woman of Rare Knowledge

The knowledge of Hafsah (rahimahaAllah) was such that Iyaas ibn Mu’awiyyah said: 

‘I did not meet anyone whom I can prefer over Hafsah.’ He was asked: ‘What about Hasan al Basri and Muhammad ibn Sireen?’ He said: ‘As for me I do not prefer anyone over her. She learnt the Qur’aan by heart when she was twelve years old.’ (Al Mizzi, Tahdheeb al-Kamaal, xxxv. 152.)

And Hishaam ibnu Hassaan said:

“I saw Al-Hasan (Hasan al Basri), and (Muhammad) ibnu Seereen, and I did not see anyone that I thought was cleverer than Hafsah.” (Sifah As-Safwah, Dhikr Al Mustafiyaat min A’abidaat al Basrah, Vol 2, Page 709.)

Not only had she memorized the Qur’aan by the age of twelve but she had deep knowledge pertaining to the recitation of the Qur’aan. Hishaam narrates that when Ibn Sireen (her brother) would find something difficult and ambiguous (ashkala ‘alayhi) regarding the Qiraa’ah (recitation), he would say, “Go and ask Hafsah how to recite.” (Sifah As-Safwah, Dhikr Al Mustafiyaat min A’abidaat al Basrah.)

She was both a great muhaddithah (scholar of hadeeth) and faqeehah (jurist). She had learnt many ahaadeeth from the great Companion Anas ibnu Maalik. (Ibn Hibbaan, K. al-Thiqaat, iv. 194.) { see:}

Hafsa bint Sireen was indeed one of the greatest scholars of Islam and was accredited with numerous students. She lived in Busra and was known for her piety and knowledge and practical and legal aspects of Islamic traditions (hadiths). Among her popular sayings on issues of Islam is that on fasting whilst backbiting: she said:

“Fasting is a shield as long as one does not tear it, and tearing it is when you backbite” (see: Abd Al-Razzâq Al-San’ânî, Al-Musannaf )


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