The Story of Affan bin Sulayman

Historians relate the story of an Egyptian named Affan bin Sulayman al-Masri. He bought a house and one day discovered a treasure buried under it. He began to spend his newfound wealth on the poor and the unfortunate.

One day he bought 1000 camel-loads of wheat from Prince Ahmad bin Keeghalgh. After some time the prices soared due to scarcity of wheat, shooting up to thrice its normal value. Prince Ahmad called Affan to his palace. The prince told him, "Either return the 1000 camel-loads or pay me for the wheat at today's price." Affan bin Sulayman refused, leaving angry. He went and distributed all the wheat to the poor and needy, leaving only a small portion for himself and his family.

Prince Ahmad went to the governor of Egypt Taqeen bin Abdullah al-Harbi, an arrogant and ruthless ruler. He ordered that all of Affan bin Sulayman's wealth and holdings be impounded. Affan bin Sulayman decided to leave Egypt, running from the oppression of the governor Taqeen. He told his story to a descendant of the Prophet (s), Ash-Sharif `Ali bin Abdullah a very pious man. He took him to the grave of Sayyida Nafisa and both of them sat facing the grave reciting verses of Qur`an, asking Allah to send the rewards of the recitation to Sayyida Nafisa and asking Allah (swt) in her presence and for her sake and the sake of her grandfather the Prophet (s) to solve the problem of Affan bin Sulayman. Suddenly they both fell asleep. They both saw Sayyida Nafisa in the dream telling him, "Go together with Affan bin Sulayman to the governor of Egypt Taqeen. I solved his problem."

Together they left and visited the governor, who to their surprise hosted them in grand style. The governor said, "Sayyida Nafisa appeared to me in a dream saying, 'Be generous and host As-Sayyid Ali very well and return all Affan's money to him; he asked for our intercession.'"

Taqeen, raising his hands said, "O Allah forgive me for what I did." Turning to Affan b. Sulayman he said, "I am releasing all your money." The governor Taqeen ordered Affan's money returned to him and ordered that his own treasuries be opened and spent on the poor. He used to say, "All Egyptians are afraid of me, but I am afraid of Affan bin Sulyman and his du`a at the grave of Sayyida Nafisa." With that du`a, the governor of Egypt corrected his wrong and unjust ways and lived as a righteous governor for the rest of his life. He wrote in his will that he should be buried in Bayt al-Maqdis, Jerusalem. When he died, that took place according to his orders.

Her Maqam

The first one to build a masjid by the grave of Sayyida Nafisa was the governor of Egypt, Ubaydullah bin Sirri bin al-Hakam. Then it was renovated by Badr al-Jamali, the commander in chief of the army of Egypt, in the year 482 H. It was renovated again by Muhammad bin al-Qalawun in 740H. Then Prince Abdur Rahman Katakhada renovated it further in the year 773 H. Finally the Ministry of Religious Endowments renoveated it in 1314 H. to the structure it has today. The copper room which is entirely hand-carved over her grave was made in 1266 H. The door which is now there is ornately engraved, and was placed there by Ali Pasha, governor of Egypt in 1170. Water was piped in for people to drink. Above the water-dispensing room is a room for memorizing Qur`an. All Abbasid caliphs were buried on the eastern side of the grave in the time of al-Zahir Baybars.

From her death and until today, around the year and around the clock you will find people visiting Sayyida Nafisa's grave: from the highest Islamic scholars to common people. Over her grave her lineage to the Prophet (s) is engraved. Under that is written "Anyone experiencing difficulties in his life should visit the grave of Sayyida Nafisa, recite surat al-Fatiha (Qur`an, 1), surat al-`Ala (87), surat al-Ikhlas (112) and al-muwadhitayn (113, 114), gift that recitation to her and make du`a for Allah to solve that problem."

The method of greeting Sayyida Nafisa is also described, "In a low voice say, 'Peace be upon you, as-salaamu `alayki, O Sayyidina Nafisa, daughter of Hasan al-Anwar, son of as-Sayyid Zayd al-Ablaj, son of As-Sayyid Hasan, son of Sayyida Ali, and of Sayyida Fatima, daughter of the Prophet (s)."