Rifā‘ahbey, for by this name is he generally known, was born at Ṭahṭā, in the province of Girgā, in 1801. His genealogy goes back to Muḥammad al-Bāḳir b. ‘Alī Zain al-‘Ābidīn b. al-Ḥasan b. Fāṭimah, the daughter of the Prophet Muḥammad. His ancestors had been well-to-do but when Rifā‘ah was born, his parents were in great pecuniary difficulties. They were apparently affected by the confiscations by Muḥammad ‘Alī of the iltzamāt during the early part of his reign. Rifā‘ah’s father was compelled to go from one place to another in order to seek hospitality. At one time the family stayed with relations at Mansẖa’at an-Nīdah, near the town of Girgā these peregrinations, the young Riā‘ah began to memorize the Ḳor’ān under the care of his father.,
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