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Shahrbānū (or Shehr Bano) (Persian: شهربانو‎‎) (Meaning: "Lady of the Land"), is a personage described by the Shia tradition to have been one of the daughters of Yazdegerd III,[1] the last Emperor of the Sassanid dynasty of Persia/Iran. She was said to be the mother of Imam Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin and the daughter of the last Sasanian king.[2] Other names by which she has been referred to include: Shaharbānawayh,[3] Shahzanān,[4] Salāma,[5] Salāfa,[6] Ghazāla,[7] Salama,[8] and Sādira.[9]

Shahrbānū was one of the wives of Husayn ibn Ali, (grandson of Muhammad and third Twelver Shī`a Imām) and the mother of Ali ibn Husayn (the fourth Twelver Shī`a Imām).[10][11][12] There is a shrine named after Shahrbānū in ancient Rayy, in the southern suburbs of Tehran, Iran. She died in Medina and was buried in the graveyard of "Jannat ul Baqi" alongside other members of Prophet's family. Some historians and writers doubt her existence and consider her as a myth rather than a historical figure.[13][14]

Pedigree of Shahar Banu[edit]

One of sons to Saam was “Arphaxad or Arpachshad” also known as Zo’ul Had Nabi Allah. According to Jewish Time Line Encyclopedia by Mattis Kantor (2004 Edition) Arphaxed period was 1651-2110 BC (with an age of 460 years) who had various children. In second generation to Shem was “Sar Qus” the son of Arphaxad (or Arfakhshad). With particular reference to larger span of age in the past and its gradual decline, pedigree records provide a tracing of his offspring (i) Ku’Mars (ii) Siya Mak (iii) Hoshang (iv) Sayo Mars who was the father of (v) King Jamshed. The period of King Jamshed appears to be in the time line of Prophet Ibrahim/Abraham, perhaps with a difference in region or a gap of solar years not more than one century, as such Prophet Abraham stands at sixth to the descendant of "Salekh Zo'ul Battee" the brother of "Sur Qus". With these eight generations Sha-Poor Dhul’al Kinaf (died ca 224 AD[15]) stood 22nd and his son Ardeshir I, the founder of Sasanian Empire in 241 CE, at 23rd in descendants to Shem. His fourth descendant was Yazdegard and his sixth descendant in generation (tenth to Sha-Poor Dhul’al Kinaf) was Yazdegerd III, died in 652/53 ca. With this pedigree Shahar Bano is placed at serial number 33 in descendant to King Jamshed and fortieth in Pedigree to Sa’am Bin Noah[16][17]

Shahbanu and Shahar Banu[edit]

The name Shahbanu was not new in Sassanid Dynasty and can be traced first in the period of Ist Sassanian King and also a similar name as wife of King Khosrow I.[18] The name of one of daughters of last Sassanid king is, however, regarded as Shahar Banu either as her name or title, after minor substitution in her original name. One of her sister was wife of Chinese Emperor.[19]

Parents and siblings[edit]

Al-Masudi mentions names of two sons to Yazdagard-III and three daughters, namely Adrag, Shahar Banu and Mardawand, respectively.[20] Col. James Tod, writer of the Ancient History of Rajasthan "The Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan" writes that in ancient time Rajpootana (Rajasthan) was included as vassal kingdom in the Sassanid Empire and there were family relations between Persian and Rahjistan. He wrote further that one of Yazdegard's daughter Mah Bano was wife to Chundar Bhan who was Rana of Audhaypur (king of Audhaypur), papularly known as Chundar Bhoga. This book reveals that King Yazdegard-III had three daughters and Firoze as son, and Mahmud Ghazni was 7th in descendants to Feroze.[21]

Al-Tabri and Ibn Khaldun inferred marital engagement of Yazdegard-III with a woman at Merv in addition to previous marriage(s).[22][23] Washington Irving in his book "Mahomet and His Successors" cited not only wives but also concubines and their female attendants during hideout.[24] Research scholar Dr. Zameer Akhtar Naqvi traces the name of first wife of Yazdagard-III and the mother of Shahar Banu, quoting that the city Matli situated in the Province of Sindh was first established for habitation by the last Sassanian King in honor of his wife. Her name was either Mah Talat or Maha Talat, a daughter of vassal king of Sindh in the Sassanid Empire.[25]

Surrender of Gorgan and participation by Husnain[edit]

Upon hearing the defeat in Nihawand, Yazdegard sought refuge in one province after another until at last he along with most of Persian nobilities fled further inland to the northern province of Khorasan till his death.[26][27] However, issuance of coins in his name until 650 AD is on record in British Museum [28]

In the period of third Rashidun Caliphate the Muslim Army was composed of groups from clans and tribes settled in the newly established garrison town Kufa. The leader of each tribe led their clan as commander or chief in the battle. Al-Tabri gave an account for participation by sons of Ali Ibn Abi Talib and Umar al-Khitab in the campaign launched for Khorasan in the end of 30 AH.[22] Persian historian Firishta in his well known book[29] Tarikh-i Firishta wrote that the dwellers of Gorgan (also called as Jurjan) surrendered their territory peacefully to Husnain (Hassan Ibn Ali and his brother Hussain) during 30/31 Hijra ( ca 652/53 AD) and confessed Islam. The campaign in Khorasan, however, was ended with conquest of Balkh in 654 AD. According to John Norman Hollister, Hazara located near Bulkh. 90% members of Hazara tribe follow shia faith since adoption of Islam. It is believed that family of Yazdegard was in hide either in Badakhshan or Hirat under protection of King of Kabul.

Hazara Tribe and their relation to Gorgon[edit]

Shia sources, quote a historic name of “Shansab Ibn Khartak” a personality who during Claphate of Ali along with a large delegation came to the governor of Imam Ali in Iran inquiring about Islam. Governor referred him to meet Imam Ali in Kufa. In Kufa Shansab heard the sermons of Imam Ali and met with his two sons, Al-Hassan and Al-Hussain. Imam Ali presented to Shansab a flag of Prophet that he carried when he entered Mecca. Upon his return to his homeland he preached Islam to his people, in accordance with preaching he received from Imam Ali, and the entire Hazara tribe embraced Shia Islam as their faith.[30]

Capture of daughters of Yazdegard-III[edit]

Study of historical events and their comparison with date of births, socio status and the regional position of personalities under reference give an evaluation for the authenticity of event. Referring to a tradition from Kitab al-Kafi book al-Hujjat (Chapter-10), most of the writers gave an interesting account for capture of Bibi Shahar Banu in the Caliphate of Umar al-Khitab. But scholars in terms of principles of “Ilm-ur-Rajjal (Biographical evaluation )” reject the reporters of that tradition, namely (i) Ibrahim bin Ishaq al-Ahmar (ii) Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah Khiza’ee (iii) Umroo bin Shammar.[31] Additionally Allama Majlisi in his monumental work "Mirat al Uqool fi Shara al Kaafi" which is a commentary on authenticity for good and weak hadiths, had turned down the acceptance of tradition by said reporters.

Capture after 644 AD[edit]

Her capture during caliphate of Usman is referred through a tradition from Bihar-ul-Anwar by its narrators (i) Muhammad Bin Yahya us-Soolee, and (ii) Aun bin Muhammad al-Kindi. The narrators of this tradition had also been marked as unreliable [32]

Refutation of Capture by Allama Shibli Nomani[edit]

Shibli Nomani, a prominent Sunni Muslim Scholar, in his well appreciated book "Al-Farooq (Umar the Great)" had cross examined the capture reference provided by Al-Zamakhshari and Ibn Khallikan and refuted the capture of Bibi Shahr Banu in caliphate of Umar al-Khitab


A common objection to the capture historicity of Shahrbanu, is that emperor Yazdgerd was too young to have a daughter at the onset of the Muslim conquest of Persia. Yazdgerd III was 28 (or 30) years old at the time of his death, 15 years of which were spent in exile.[33] Subtracting this from his age at death, his age at the time of Fall of Ctesiphon amounts to 13 (or 15) years. Since the Arab conquest began on the second year following his ascension to the throne, he was only 11 years old and therefore he could not have had a daughter to be captured by the Arabs.

Western views[edit]

Western academic historians have cast doubt on the legend. A thorough treatment of the matter can be found in the Encyclopædia Iranica:

"Neither do any of the scholars of ancient history that have chronicled, at times with great attention to detail, the invasion of Persia by Muslim troops and the fate of the last Sasanian sovereign and her family, establish any relationship between the wife of Imam Husayn and one of the daughters of Yazdgerd III.[34]

Shī`a views[edit]


The vast majority of Shī`a' scholars claim that Shahrbānū was in fact Persian based on statements and poetic verses attributed to `Ali ibn Husayn[35] and Abu al-Aswad al-Du'ali,[36] an Arab companion of `Ali who was still alive during the time of `Ali ibn Husayn respectively.[37]


Differing reports in history state that Shahrbānū was brought to Madinah as a slave either during the caliphate of `Umar,[38] `Uthmān,[39] or `Ali.[40] Based on comparisons and the study of hadith, Shī`a's believe that it was during the caliphate of `Ali, with the appointment of Horayth ibn Jābir to govern the eastern provinces, that the daughters of Yazdigird III were sent to Madinah.[41]

Having been brought to Madinah, Ali allowed the ladies freedom in choosing whomever they wanted to marry from the Muslims, to which Shahrbānū was famously reported to have replied, "I want a head over whom there is no head".[42][43]

Shrine of Shahrbānū (A.S.) in Tehran, Iran

Shahrbānū chose the hand of Husayn ibn `Ali in marriage and one of her sisters chose Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr.[1] Shia scholars claim that Ali foretold the birth of the next Shī`a Imām as he said to Husayn: "Treat this lady kindly, for she will bear you the best of the people of the Earth after you. She is the mother of the trustees (of authority), the pure progeny".[44][45]

According to Shī`a belief, Shahrbānū died shortly after giving birth[46][47] to her son Ali ibn Husayn, and was thus not present at Karbalā. The eighth Twelver Shī`a Imām, Ali ar-Ridha has also been quoted as saying, "(Shahrbānū) died during her confinement, and one of (Husayn's) slave-wives looked after him (Ali ibn Husayn). The people claimed that (the slave-wife) was his mother, while she was his retainer".[48]

Even amongst the Iranian scholars there has been some dispute as to the existence of a Persian princess by the title of Shahrbānū. The scholars Ali Shariati and Ayatullah Mutahhari are amongst those who have declared that any narrations pertaining to Shahrbānū are weak and false[citation needed]. Whereas Al-Mubarrad, al-Dinawari, Allameh Tabatabaei[49] and many others[50] disagree, and contend that Shahrbānū was the mother of Ali ibn Husayn, the fourth Twelver Shī`a Imām.[51][52][53] Narrations of Shahrbānū have also been reported in Sunni sources including, "Bab 27" of Qabusnama, where Salmān the Persian is recounted to have been involved in the selection of Husayn by Shahrbānū.


There are two versions regarding death of Shahr Banu. First relates to her death in between 655-659 AD, and a majority of Shia Muslims acknowledge her death after birth of Ali Zainul Abedeen as authentic. This tradition appears to be a normal concern and bears no myth. The second tradition relates to her participation in the event of Karbala. Thus her death is suggested after 681 AD.

As regard of her appearance and construction of her Shrine in Ray of that time Khurasan, a tradition in a 460 pages researched English book titled "The Princess Shehr Banoo[54]" compiled by a Shia Ismailee, traces a visit of couple that Hussain Ibn Ali with his wife Shahar Banu traveled towards Khurasan during caliphate of Ali Ibn Abe Talib. After giving birth to Zainul Abedeen, mother of this baby expired in the nearby of present-day "Ray".[55] Reference of that event and considering it with the archaeological observations [56] made by Mary Boyce in her article, the construction of shrine at Ray at later period can be considered as a clue to the construction of shrine which is widely discussed as a myth.


  1. ^ a b Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi. The life of Imam Zayn al-`Abidin a.s. p3.
  2. ^ Yaʿqubi II, pp. 246-47 and 303; Nowbaḵti, p. 53; Ašʿari, p. 70.
  3. ^ Roudat al-Wa'zin, vol. 1, p. 237. 'Uyyun al-Mu'jizat, p. 31. Ghayat al-Ikhtisar, p. 155.
  4. ^ Al-Shiblanji, Nur al-Abbsar, p. 126.
  5. ^ 'Usul al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 466. Siyar 'Alam al-Nubala', vil, 14, p. 237, Kalifa Khayyat, al-Tabaqat, p. 238. Al-Nisaburi, al-Asami wa al-Kuna.
  6. ^ Al-Dhahabi, Tarikh al-Islam, vol. 2, p. 46. Al-Imama fi al-Islam, p. 116. Ansab al-Ashraf, p. 102. AlBustani, Da'irat al-Ma'arif, vol. 9, p. 355. Nur al-Abbsar, p. 136. Al-Kamil, vol. 2, p. 464.
  7. ^ Safwat al-Safwa, vol. 2, p. 25. Shadharat al-Dhahab, vol. 1, p. 104. Sir al-Si;sila al-'Alawiya, p. 31. Nihayat al-Irab, vol. 21 p. 324. Kulasat al-Dhahab al-Masbuk, p. 8.
  8. ^ Al-'A'imma al-Ithna 'Ashar, p. 75.
  9. ^ Al-Ithaf bi Hub al-Ashraf, p. 49.
  10. ^ Usul al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 467. Dala'il al-Imama, p. 370.
  11. ^ 'Uyyun al-Akhbar wa Funun al-Athar, p. 143. Roudat al-Wa'izin, vol. 1, p. 137.
  12. ^ Al-Mubarrad, al-Kamil, vol. 1, p. 222. Ibn Khullakan, Wafayat al-A'yan, vol. 2, p. 429
  13. ^ "Iranica encyclopedia; Hossain Ibn Ali". 
  14. ^ "Iranica encyclopedia; Shahrbanu". 
  15. ^ "Persian History Timeline". MANI. Retrieved September 5, 2015. 
  16. ^ Pages 45-47 & 50 of book "Riaz-ul-Ansab" written by Syed Maqsood Naqvi (Husband of Niece of Ali Naqi Naqvi), in Urdu Language, published by Izhar Sons Printer, Lahore, Pakistan, in 1979 and 1991
  17. ^ Syed Zameer Akhtar Naqvi, Allama Dr. (2010). Princess of Persia – Hazrat Shahar Bano (in Urdu). Karachi, Pakistan: Markz-e-Uloom-e-Islamia (Center for Islamic Studies. p. 18 & 90. 
  18. ^ "Timeline Persia". Retrieved September 6, 2015. 
  19. ^ Frank Wong. "Pirooz (Son of Yazdgerd III) in China". Iran Chamber Society. Retrieved September 12, 2015. 
  20. ^ Matteo Compareti (July 20, 2009). "Chinese-Iranian Relations xv the Last Sassanians in China". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  21. ^ James Tod, Lieutenant-Colonel. The Annals and Antiquities of Rahjistan (Vol.I). Brithis India,Rajpootana. pp. 270–281, Chapter–3 (Annals of Mewar).  Online version [1]
  22. ^ a b Habib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui (Devband), Syed Muhammad Ibrahim Nadvi. Tareekh-e-Tabri by Nafees Academy (in Urdu from Arabic). Karachi Pakistan. pp. 331–332 Vol–III. 
  23. ^ Illabadi, Hakeem Ahmed Hussain. Tareekh-e-Ibn Khaldun by Nafees Academy (in Urdu 2003 Edition). Karachi Pakistan. p. 337 (Prophet and Caliphs of Prophet). 
  24. ^ Irving, Washington. Mahomet and His Successors (In two Volumes) (in English 1872 Edition). Philadelphia,. p. 279 (Title Othman). 
  25. ^ Syed Zameer Akhtar Naqvi, Allama Dr. (2010). Princess of Persia – Hazrat Shahar Bano (in Urdu). Karachi, Pakistan: Markz-e-Uloom-e-Islamia (Center for Islamic Studies). p. 290 (Chapter-VIII). 
  26. ^ Web Admin. "Sasanian Empire (Decline & Fall 622-651". Honors of Persia – Parin Parvz Tour & Travel Agency Co. Ltd, Tehran, Iran. Retrieved September 6, 2015. 
  27. ^ Chapter-VI Book Al-Farooq (Life of Omar The Great, the Second Caliph of Islam), written by Shamsul Ulema Maulana Shibli Numani ( in 1898), English Translation by Maulana Zafar Ali Khan in June, 1900, Vol.I, Published by Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Kashmiri Bazar, Lahore(in the year 1939)
  28. ^ "The last Sasanian ruler". The British Museum. Retrieved September 6, 2015. 
  29. ^ Title: Arrival of Muslims in India at Page-45 (Vol.I) of Persian book "Tareekh Firshta – (History of India)" written by Muhammad Qasim Firshta ( Urdu Translation by Abdul Hayee Khawaja), published by Al-Meezan Publisher and Booksellers, Urdu Bazar Lahore, Pakistan, 2008 Edition
  30. ^ Hussein Al-Rumaithi. "The First Shia State in History - Afghanistan". Shia Wisdom. Retrieved September 12, 2015. 
  31. ^ Book Rajjal-e-Maqani, by allama Mamaqani, Vol.I (Page-13) and Vol.II (Page 332) (printed Iran) Online ref to Research scholar Shaikh Muhye Al-Din Al-Mamaqani [2]
  32. ^ Syed Zameer Akhtar Naqvi, Allama Dr. (2010). Princess of Persia – Hazrat Shahar Bano (in Urdu). Karachi, Pakistan: Markz-e-Uloom-e-Islamia (Center for Islamic Studies). p. 304 (Chapter-VIII). 
  33. ^ Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art (October 2003). "The Sasanian Empire (224-651 A.D.)". Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York.
  34. ^
  35. ^ Ibn Khullaka Wafayat al-A'yan, vol. 2, p. 429. Ibn Tolon, Al-A'mmia al-Ithna 'Ashar, p. 175.
  36. ^ Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 46, p. 166.
  37. ^ Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi. The life of Imam Zayn al-`Abidin a.s. p5.
  38. ^ 1. Usul al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 467. Dala'il al-Imama, p. 370. ; 2. Ibn Khullkan, Wafayat al-A'yan, vol. 2, p. 429.
  39. ^ 1. 'Uyyun al-Akhbar wa Funun al-Athar, p. 143. Roudat al-Wa'izin, vol. 1, p. 137. ; 2. Tuhaf al-Raghib, p. 13. A'lam al-Wara, p. 151. Al-Mufid, al-Irshad.
  40. ^ Al-Akhbar al-Tiwal.
  41. ^ Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi. The life of Imam Zayn al-`Abidin a.s. p3-4.
  42. ^ Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi. The life of Imam Zayn al-`Abidin a.s. p4.
  43. ^ Al-Akhbar al-Tiwal
  44. ^ 1. 'Uyyun al-Mu'jizat. Ithbat al-Hudat, vol. 5, p. 14.
  45. ^ 2. Basa'ir al-Darajat, p. 96. Ithbat al-Hudat, vol. 5, p. 214. Nasikh al-Tawarikh, vol. 1, p. 13.
  46. ^ 3. Al-Mas'udi, Ithabat al-Wasiya, p. 143. Imam Zayn 'al-Abidin, p. 18.
  47. ^ Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi. The life of Imam Zayn al-`Abidin a.s. p20-21.
  48. ^ 'Uyyun Akhbar al-Rida, p. 270.
  49. ^ Shi'ite Islam, State University of New York Press. 1979. p.201.
  50. ^ The following sources support that Shahrbānū is the mother of Imam Sajjad: محمد بن يعقوب كلينى, اصول كافى, تصحيح و تعليق : على اكبر الغفارى, تهران, مكتبة الصدوق, 1381هـ.ق, ج 1 ص 467ـ شيخ مفيد, الارشاد, قم, مكتبة بصيرتى ـ ص 253ـ فضل بن حسن طبرسى, اعلام الورى با علام الهدى, الطبعة الثالثة, تهران, دار الكتب الاسلامية, ص 256ـ حسن بن محمد بن حسن قمى, تاريخ قم, ترجمهء حسن بن على بن ];ّّ حسين قمى, تصحيح : سيد جلال الدين تهرانى, تهران, انتشارات توس, 1361هـ.ش, ص 196ـ على بن عيسى اربلى, كشف الغمة فى معرفة الاءئمة, تبريز, مكتبة بنى هاشمى, 1381هـ.ق, ج 2ص 286
  51. ^ Seminary of Qom website supporting the claim:
  52. ^ Ibid:
  53. ^ پيامبر و اهل بيت(ع)> امام حسين(ع)
  54. ^ vide detail of books at No.7 Tab Bibliography at
  55. ^ Dossa(Alex), M. Aziz Haji (1999). The Princess Shehr Banoo. Karachi (Garden East): Author of "Genealogy of the Aga Khan" & "Ismailis through History. pp. 240–2. 
  56. ^ Boyce, Mary (1967). "Bibi Shahrbanu and the Lady of Pars". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (JSTOR Org) 30, (Fiftieth Anniversary Volume (1967)): 30–44. 
  • "Aldarajat ol Rafi'" (الدرجات الرفیع) p215.
  • "Mu'jem ol Baladan" (معجم البلدان) Vol 2 p196.
  • "Nahj al Balagha" letter 45.
  • "Nahj al Balagha" Sobhi Saleh sermon 209 (خطبه صبح صالح).
  • "Nafs al-Rahman" (نفس الرحمان) p139.
  • "Managhib ebne shahr ashub" (مناقب ابن شهر اشوب) Vol 4, p48.
  • "Iranian dar Qoran va revayat." Seyed Noureddin Abtahi (ايرانيان در قرآن و روايات / نور الدين ابطحى). Chapter 3. ISBN 964-6760-40-6. LCCN 2005-305310

External links[edit]

Further references[edit]

  1. S.H. Nasr and Tabatabaei. Shi'a Islam. 1979. SUNY Press. ISBN 0-87395-390-8
  2. Safavī, Rahīmzādah. Dāstān-i Shahrbānū. 1948. LCCN 76-244526
  3. Sayyid Āghā Mahdī Lakhnavī, Savānih Hayāt-i Hazrat Shahr Bāno. LCCN 81-930254. Reprint 1981.