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Rayyān b. Shabīb was among hadith narrators relied upon by Shi'a and among the companions of Imam al-Rida (a) and Imam al-Jawad (a). According to al-Najashi, he was the uncle of al-Mu'tasim, the Abbasid caliph whose sister Marida was a bondswoman of Harun and the mother of al-Mu'tasim. However, some sources such as al-Mas'udi's Ithbat al-wasiyya mentioned him an uncle of al-Ma'mun.

Ibn Shabib was living in Qom and hadith scholars in that city have quoted hadiths from him. He narrated some hadiths from Imam al-Rida (a) and compiled the issues of Sabah b. Nasr al-Hindi from Imam al-Rida (a).

Ibrahim b. Hashim al-Qummi, the father of Ali b. Ibrahim al-Qummi, the author of Tafsir al-Qummi, has quoted hadiths from him. He also narrated hadiths from Yunus b. 'Abd al-Rahman.

The most famous narration of Rayyan is his famous narration from Imam al-Rida (a) about the month of Muharram, the Event of 'Ashura and the merits and rewards for crying and mourning for Imam al-Husayn (a). In this narration, it is mentioned that, "O Rayyan! If you cry, then cry over Husayn (a)."

According to al-Kashshi's report, Rayyan had a son for whom Imam al-Rida (a) did not accept to pray and criticized him while Imam (a) prayed for Rayyan himself three times.