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Ḥanẓala b. Rabīʿ b. Ṣayfī al-Usaydī (Arabic: حنظلة بن ربیع بن صیفي الأسیدي) (d. 50?/ 670-71?) was one of the companions of the Prophet (s) and a narrator of hadiths. He was an advocate of 'Uthman and an opponent of Imam 'Ali (a) in the Battle of Jamal and Battle of Siffin. In the latter, he refuged to Mu'awiya b. Abi Sufyan, but he did not attend the battle against Imam 'Ali (a). Hanzala was one of the few literate people at the time of the Prophet (s) and so he sometimes wrote for the Prophet (s). Thus he came to be known as "al-Katib" (the scribe).

Hanzala b. Rabi'
Personal Information
Full Name Hanzala b. Rabi' b. Sayfi al-Usaydi
Teknonym Abu Rib'i
Epithet al-Katib
Lineage Banu Tamim
Well-Known Relatives Aktham b. Sayfi
Death/Martyrdom 50?/670-71?
Religious Information
Notable Roles one of the scribes of the Prophet (s)
Other Activities Opponent of Imam Ali (a)



Hanzala b. Rabi', also known as Abu Rab'i and Hanzala al-Katib, was from Banu Tamim tribe. Hanzala's uncle, Aktham b. Sayfi, was a famous sage among Arabs, and Hanzala himself was one of the few people at the time of the Prophet (s) who could write. And this shows that his household were educated people.

No exact information is available about the years of his birth and death. Ibn Hibban talked about his death during the reign of Mu'awiya, and according to al-Safdi, he died in 50 AH/670-71.

Why Was He Known as al-Katib?

Two reasons have been mentioned for him coming to be known as al-Katib (scribe):

  • Hanzala b. Rabi' wrote a letter for the Prophet (s) and then came to be known as al-Katib.
  • He was among people who wrote for the Prophet (s).

There are two views about what he wrote:

  • He was a scribe of the revelation (or wahy), when the other scribes of the revelation were not available.
  • He was not a scribe of the revelation; rather he only wrote the Prophet (s)'s political correspondences, private letters, and lists of collected charities.

A Narrator of Hadiths

In hadith collections, there are hadiths narrated by Hanzala concerning moral and jurisprudential issues. His Hadith of "Nifaq" (hypocrisy) is very well-known, and he is sometimes known as the "narrator of Hadith al-Nifaq". In this hadith, Hanzala considered himself as a hypocrite since when he was with the Prophet (s) and the Prophet (s) talked about the heaven and the hell, he remembered the afterlife, but when he went to his wife and children, he forgot God. Some people narrated hadiths from him, including Abu 'Uthman al-Nahdi, Hasan al-Basri and Qatada.

Participation in Political Events

  • In the period of the Prophet (s): an event in this period in which Hanzala is mentioned was his duty to consider a peace treaty between people of Ta'if and Muslims.
  • In the period of Abu Bakr: in this period, Hanzala attended the conquests together with Khalid b. Walid and at Khalid's command, he went to Medina to hand over the khums of the booties to Abu Bakr.
  • In the period of 'Umar: in the Battle of Qadisiyya, Hanzala was the commander of a part of the Muslim army. Moreover, he witnessed the peace treaty between Muslims and some people from Hira. Before the battle, he was among people who went to Yazdegerd's palace to invite him to Islam.
  • In the period of 'Uthman: Hanzala was an advocate of 'Uthman and composed elegies after his death. In these elegies, he honored 'Uthman and reproached his murderers as neglectful of the Prophet (s)'s will. He also said that he would never pledge his allegiance to anyone who undertakes the affairs of Muslims after 'Uthman. Because of what he called the humiliation of 'Uthman, he left Kufa to Circesium (or Qarqisiya).
  • In the period of Imam 'Ali (a): Hanzala b. Rabi' was an opponent of Imam 'Ali (a) in the battles of Jamal and Siffin. Before the latter, he and some other people went to Imam 'Ali (a) to dissuade him from the war. Imam 'Ali (a)'s companions believed that he had secret correspondences with Mu'awiya. Thus the Imam (a) asked about his own position regarding his disagreement with Mu'awiya, and when he expressed his neutrality, the leaders of his own tribe—who were Imam 'Ali (a)'s supporters—raged at him. By saying that he was more aware of the affairs than anyone else, he asked for a respite and went back home, and then he fled to Mu'awiya overnight, but he did not attend the war against Imam 'Ali (a).