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Genealogy of Khadijah's daughters

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Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, the first wife of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, had six children. Some Shia dispute whether all of the children were born in her marriage to Muhammad, or if three of the four daughters were born to a previous marriage.


The dispute extends to Umm Kulthum, Ruqayah, Zainab and Fatimah bint Muhammad. For ease of identification, all four daughters share the same patronym, "Bint Muhammad." This is accepted even by those who view them as children from a previous marriage and view that Muhammad adopted them, as this predates usage of Islamic rules of adoption. It is notable that Muhammad also had an adopted son, Zayd ibn Harithah.

This debate becomes significant and contentious since two of the children, Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthum were consecutively married to Uthman, one after the death of the other. Due to marrying two of the Prophet's daughter, Uthman was called 'Dhul Nureyni' (or Keeper/Owner of Two Lights). Uthman became the third Rightly Guided Caliph and first Banu Umayyad Caliph.


The Quran refers to Muhammad's daughters as "banatika" ([Qur'an 33:59]), the plural[1] for "daughters". This is the argument against the view of that the sisters of Fatimah were not the biological daughters of the prophet Muhammad as according to the universally accepted islamic creed that the Qur'an will remain unaltered till it is lifted totally.

Muslim view

Regardless of which marriage they were born in, both Shi'a and Sunni view all the children with the high respect.

Sunni view

Sunni outright reject any notion of them being born anywhere but in Muhammad's marriage. Sunni honour Uthman as "possessor of the two lights", in reference to him being married to two of Muhammad's biological children. Sunni believe that Ruqayyah was born three years after the birth of Zainab, when Muhammad was 33 [2]. Many Sunnis hold that the claim that Fatima is the only biological daughter is pushed by the Shia in order to strengthen the legitimacy of the Shia Imams. If there were other biological sisters who had children, then they would have as much a right to claim the caliphate as Fatima's descendants.

Shi'a view

Shia scholars view them as born in previous marriages[3], and that this fact is obscured in order to give greater merit to the first Banu Umayyad Caliph. Those Shi'as view is that Fatimah was Muhammad's only biological daughter and the only one who married a Caliph, i.e., Ali. They argue it improbable for Khadija to have given birth to so many children at such an advanced age, while at the same time having abstained from having children in both her previous marriages. A third version also exists which views the two daughters as being the children of Khadijah's deceased sister [4].

One source states:

Who were Khadija's children by her second husband? This is another controversy that revolves round the other daughters or step-daughters of Muhammad besides Fatima. These daughters, chronologically arranged, are: Zainab, Ruqayya, and Ummu Kulthoom. Some historians say that these were Khadija's daughters by her second husband, whereas others insist they were her daughters by Muhammad. The first view is held by Sayyid Safdar Husayn in his book The Early History of Islam wherein he bases his conclusion on the contents of al-Sayyuti's famous work Tarikh al-khulafa wal muluk (history of the caliphs and kings). We hope some of our Muslim sisters who read this text will be tempted to research this subject. [5]

Ali Asgher Razwy, a 20th century Shi'a twelver Islamic scholar states:

It is not known with any degree of certainty who were these three girls. Most of the Sunni historians claim that they were the daughters of Muhammad and Khadija. According to some other historians, they were the daughters of Khadija by an earlier marriage.

The Shia Muslims disagree. They assert that Zainab, Ruqayya and Umm Kulthoom were not the daughters of Muhammad and Khadija; in fact, they were not even the daughters of Khadija by any earlier marriage; they were the daughters of a (widowed) sister of Khadija. Khadija's sister also died, and upon her death, she brought the three girls into her own house and brought them up as her own children.

According to the Shia Muslims, Muhammad and Khadija had three and not six children.The first two of them – Qasim and Tayyeb or Tahir – were boys, and both of them died in their infancy. Their third and the last child was a girl – Fatima Zahra. She was their only child who did not die in infancy.

The girls – Zainab, Ruqayya and Umm Kulthoom – could not have been the daughters of the Prophet of Islam. If they were, he would not have given them in marriage to the idolaters which the husbands of all three of them were. It's true that all three girls were married long before the dawn of Islam. But then he did not violate any of the imperatives of Qur’an at any time – before or after he was ordained God's Messenger. And Qur’an is explicit on the prohibition of the marriage of a Muslim woman to a pagan. [6]

Shi'a argue that there is a lack of narrations from Muhammad regarding his other daughters, and they use it to argue that if they held the same position in Muhammads eye, this would not be the case:

The Shi'a website Answering-Ansar (which has been shown to be a dishonest source of information by Sunnis)[7] states:

If anything this serves as the greatest proof that Sayyida Fatima (as) was the sole daughter of Rasulullah (s). If these daughters indeed existed then Rasulullah (s) would have certainly apportioned them their share of inheritance as he had done with Sayyida Fatima (as). The very fact that we have no historical evidence of him ever giving them anything as a gift / inheritance is the clearest evidence that they did not exist. If they did exist then we have to accept that Allah and his Prophet (s) were unjust. After all the same Prophet (s) who marries Sayyida Fatima (as) according to revelation from Allah marries the other three daughters to kaafirs!

The same man that showered all manner of honour on Sayyida Fatima deeming her pain to be on par with his, giving her the title Leader of the Women of Paradise does not bother to relay even a single Hadith in praise of his other daughters. Ahl'ul Sunnah's authority work Mishkat al Masabeeh, under the Chapter 'Bab Fadail Ahl'ul bayt' has 49 traditions with regard of the relatives of Muhammad including his uncle Abbas, even his adopted son Zaid. Curiously the author of a book that takes traditions from TEN esteemed Sunni works fails to cite even a single Hadeeth on the "other daughters" in this chapter. ... The truth is that Maula 'Ali ( was the only son in law of Muhammad as we read in 'Riyadh al Nadira' Volume 3 page 220, Dhikr Fadail 'Ali:

Rasulullah said to 'Ali 'You possess three virtues not possessed by anyone else:

  1. You have a father in law like me.
  2. You have received my truthful daughter as your wife
  3. You have received pious sons such as Hassan and Husayn

... This virtue (Rasulullah being father in law) would not be exclusive if Rasulullah also had other son in laws! If Nawasib try to argue that Uthman's marriage may have occurred later we should point out that according to the Ahl'ul Sunnah the daughters of Rasulullah were married long before Sayyida Fatima, and were the wives of two of Abu Jahl's sons. Rasulullah could not have praised 'Ali for this exclusive honour if he had other sons in law. ... The famed title of Uthman 'Dhul Nurayn' coming from the mouth of Muhammad(as asserted by sunnis) is not present in any of the six esteemed works of Ahl'ul Sunnah. When the very existence of these daughters cannot be established then how can we accept that Uthman was the possessor of two lights? ... It is indeed ironic that the Salafi and Deobandi Nawasib reject the notion of Muhammad being created from Nur (Light), rather they deem him an ordinary human like us created from mud. Curiously when it comes to honouring Uthman suddenly he is deemed Dhul Nurayn 'the possessor of two lights'. If Prophet (s) is not 'Light' then how can Uthman become the possessor of 'Two Lights'? How can this then be used as an excuse that he married the 'supposed' two daughters of Muhammad? [8]

Some individuals have said that Khadija had no previous husbands[9],

See also


  1. The Arabic language has three persons - singular, dual, and plural, with the latter referring to more than two. For further explanation, refer to Arabic grammar.
  3. Al-Tijani in his The Shi'ah are (the real) Ahl al-Sunnah on note 274
  4. Again, it is also not agreed that these two were the real daughters of Muhammad, because there is one group which denies them to be his real daughters, and regards them as being the daughters of Khadijah's sister Halah, or the daughters of her own previous husband. Thus, Abu'l-Qasim al-Kufi writes: "When the Messenger of Allah married Khadijah, then some time thereafter Halah died leaving two daughters, one named Zaynab and the other named Ruqayyah and both of them were brought up by the Prophet and Khadijah and they maintained them, and it was the custom before Islam that a child was assigned to whoever brought him up." (al-lstighathah, p. 69) Ibn Hisham has written about the issues of Hadrat Khadijah as follows: "Before marriage with Muhammad she was married to Abi Halah ibn Malik. She delivered for him Hind ibn Abi Halah and Zaynab bint Abi Halah. Before marriage with Abi Halah she was married to `Utayyiq ibn `Abid ibn `Abdillah ibn `Amr ibn Makhzum and she delivered for him `Abdullah and a daughter." (as-Sirah an-nabawiyyah, vol. 4, p. 293) This shows that of Hadrat Khadijah had two daughters before being married to Muhammad and according to all appearance they would be called his daughters and those to whom they were married would be called his sons-in-law, but the position of this relationship would be the same as if those girls were his daughters. (Commentary to Nahj al-Balagah [1])
  5. Wife of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWAS)
  6. Restatement of History of Islam section Uthman, the Third Khalifa of the Muslims
  7. “Lies of Answering-Ansar”
  9. This is not a unanimous opinion amongst Muslim historians and many have said that these narrations of Khadija [a]'s previous marriages are fabricated reports. Their findings instead are that Khadija [a] was in fact never married until she became Muhammad's wife; and that the daughters in her care (Zaynab, Rukayya, Umm Kulthum) were in fact her deceased sister's orphans that she took under her care. For example, see: [2] [3] (google cache acceced 2006-07-12)

Further reading

For Sunni view see:

For Shi'a sources that mention other daughters of Muhammad, see:

For views from Western scholarship see:

  • G. Levi Della Vida-[R.G. Khoury]. ʿUT̲H̲MĀN b.ʿAffān. Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2007. Brill Online. 03 April 2007
  • Veccia Vaglieri, L. Fāṭima. Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2007. Brill Online. 03 April 2007
  • Watt, W. Montgomery. K̲H̲adīd̲j̲a. Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2007. Brill Online. 03 April 2007

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