Children of Muhammad

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Muhammad's children
اولادِ محمد
أولاد النبي عليهم السلام.png
Children of Muhammad Birth–Death
Umm Kulthum603–630
FamilyAhl al-Bayt
(Banu Hashim)

The children of Muhammad include the three sons and four daughters of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.[1] The common view is that all were born to Muhammad's first wife Khadija bint Khuwaylid, except one son, named Ibrahim, who was born to Maria al-Qibtiyya.[2][3] Most Shia Muslims, however, hold that Fatima was the only biological daughter of Muhammad.[4][5] Muhammad also had an adopted son, Zayd ibn Harithah.[6][7]

Sunni view[edit]

In chronological order, most Sunni sources list Muhammad's children as

Shia view[edit]

A number of Shia sources argue that Zainab, Ruqayyah, and Umm Kulthum were adopted by Muhammad after the death of their mother, Hala, a sister of Khadija.[4][9] According to Abbas, most Shia Muslims hold that Fatima was Muhammad's only biological daughter,[4] whereas Fedele limits this belief to Twelver Shi'ism.[9] Hyder reports that this belief is prevalent among the Shias of South Asia.[5]


Muhammad's sons all died in childhood.[10][7] Their early deaths, according to Freedman and McClymond, was detrimental to a hereditary-based system of succession to Muhammad.[7] Alternatively, after the past prophets, writes Madelung, their descendants became the spiritual and material heirs to them in the Quran, a matter that is settled therein by divine selection and not by the faithful.[11][12]

Muhammad's daughters reached adulthood but they all died relatively young.[7] Fatima married Ali ibn Abi Talib, Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum married Uthman one after another, and Zainab married Abu al-As ibn al-Rabi. Umm Kulthum remained childless whereas Ruqayya gave birth to a boy Abd Allah, who died at the age of six.[13][14] Zaynab gave birth to a son Ali and a daughter Umama, whom Ali ibn Abi Talib married after Fatima's death.[15] Fatima gave birth to two boys, Hasan and Husayn, and it is through her that Muhammad's progeny has spread throughout the Muslim world.[16] The descendants of Fatima are given the honorific titles sayyid (lit.'lord, sir') or sharif (lit.'noble'), and are respected in the Muslim community.[17][9][18]


Muhammad's attitude and treatment towards his children, enshrined in hadith literature, is viewed by Muslims as an exemplar to be imitated.[19] However, critics have noted favoritism towards his daughter Fatima in refusing her husband Ali’s pursuit of a second wife, despite the Islamic legality of polygyny.[20] While there is evidence that Fatima was the favorite daughter,[21][22][9] Sunni traditions that place Ali in a negative light should be treated with caution as they mirror the political agenda of the time, according to Buehler.[16] In this case, it appears that the three versions of this tradition can all be traced back to al-Miswar ibn Makhrama, a companion who was nine when Muhammad died.[23] Reflecting the Shia view, Abbas praises the couple for their love and loyalty.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Haykal 1933, pp. 76, 77.
  2. ^ Gwynne 2013.
  3. ^ Smith 2008, p. 17.
  4. ^ a b c Abbas 2021, p. 33.
  5. ^ a b Akbar 2006, p. 75.
  6. ^ Hazleton 2013, pp. 67, 68.
  7. ^ a b c d Freedman & McClymond 2000, p. 497.
  8. ^ Buehler 2014, pp. 182–3.
  9. ^ a b c d Fedele 2018, p. 56.
  10. ^ Hughes 1885, p. 869.
  11. ^ Madelung 1997, pp. 9, 17.
  12. ^ Jafri 1979, pp. 14–16.
  13. ^ Madelung 1997, pp. 364.
  14. ^ Q. Ahmed 2011, p. 50.
  15. ^ Haylamaz 2007, p. 83.
  16. ^ a b Buehler 2014, p. 186.
  17. ^ Buehler 2014, p. 20.
  18. ^ Morimoto 2012, p. 2.
  19. ^ Yust 2006, p. 72.
  20. ^ Ibn Warraq 2000, p. 243.
  21. ^ Khetia 2013, p. 36.
  22. ^ Buehler 2014, pp. 8, 185.
  23. ^ Soufi 1997, pp. 51–4.
  24. ^ Abbas 2021, p. 56.


Further reading[edit]