Children of Imam Hussain

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Children of Imam Hussain include four or six sons and two or four daughters based on different sources. In spite of confusions in some sources, there is a general consensus in Shi’ite tradition that Imam Hussain had three sons by the name of Ali, as is narrated in Kamaluddin. Zayn al-Abedin was the median, while Ali al-Akbar and Ali al-Asqar were martyred at the Battle of Karbala.

In Historical Sources[edit | edit source]

There different reports regarding children of Imam Hussain. In various chronicles not concerned with Shiʿite tradition regarding the three sons of Hussain named Ali, there are further confusions; thus Ali Zayn-al-Abedin is sometimes called Ali Asqar instead of Ali Awsat. In Tarikh-eQom “Imam Ali Akbar” refers to Shahrbanuya’s son (i.e., Zayn-al-Abedin), and “Ali Asqar, the son of Layla,” to Ali Akbar; Abdallah (= Ali Asqar) is killed by an arrow in his mother’s arms.[1]

Shaikh Mufeed says, that Imam Hussain had six children:

  • (Imam) Ali al Akbar (the elder Ali) (Zayn al-Abedin), whose agnomen was Abul Hasan and his mother was Shahezanan, the daughter of Khusroe Yazdjurd.
  • Ali al-Asqar (the younger Ali) (popularly referred to as Ali al Akbar), who was martyred at Karbala along with his father. His mother was Layla, the daughter of Abi Murrah bin Urwah bin Mas’ood Saqafi.
  • Ja’far, he did not have any progeny and his mother was from the tribe of Bani Quza’ah. He died during the lifetime of Imam Hussain.
  • Abdullah (popularly referred to as Ali al-Asqar), who was martyred in his infancy along with his father. He lay in his father’s lap when an arrow came and pierced his neck and he was martyred, while we have quoted regarding him earlier.
  • Sakinah, whose mother was Rabab, the daughter of Imru’ al Qays bin Adi Kalbi. She was also the mother of Abdullah bin Hussain.
  • Fatima, whose mother was Umm Ishaq, the daughter of Talha bin Ubaydullah.

Ali bin Isa Irbili quotes in Kashful Ghummah, and it is quoted in Kamaluddin also, that Imam Hussain had ten children, six sons and four daughters. He mentions the names of his three sons to be Ali (as narrated above), and Muhammad, Abdullah and Ja’far. Ali Akbar fought alongside his father and was martyred, while Ali Asqar, the infant, was martyred by the arrow, and Abdullah too was martyred along with his father. While the names of his daughters are Zainab, Sakinah and Fatima (he does not name the fourth one and probably she should be Ruqayya, whose grave is a renowned place of pilgrimage in Damascus – author). This is quite renowned, and it is also said that he had four sons and two daughters, while the former quote is quite renowned. But his eternal remembrance and his lawful progeny is through Ali the median (al Awsat) Zayn al-Abedin, and not through any other sons.

Ibn Khashshab says, that he had six sons and three daughters, whose names are similar to the ones quoted by Irbili above. Hafiz bin Abdul Aziz bin Akhzar Janabazi relates, that Imam Hussain had six children, four sons and two daughters. As regards the names of his daughters he is in agreement with Shaikh Mufeed. But he names the one martyred at Karbala to be Ali Akbar, and says that the progeny of Hussain ensued from Ali Asqar, whose mother was a slave-girl and he was the best in his age.

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