Kunyah

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A kunyah (Arabic: كنية‎, translit.: kunya) is a type of epithet, honorific, or a nickname that is used in place of or alongside an individuals given name. A kunyah generally describes an association between the owner and some other aspect of their lives such as: family and non-family relationships, unique behaviour, personal experience, etc.

General Use

A kunyah is expressed by the use of abū or umm in a genitive construction, i.e. "father of" or "mother of" in conjunction with the relationship being described. The most common usage of a kunya is to emphasis the relationship of the bearer and their first-born child; son or daughter, but a bearer of a kunya could have many associated to him.

Prophet Muhammad's (ﷺ) first born son was named Qasim which made his (ﷺ) kunyah Abu al-Qasim (Father of Qasim) (أبو القاسم‎). Khadīja bint Khuwaylid, the wife of the Prophet (ﷺ) could be referred to as Umm al-Qasim (Mother of Qasim).

Famous Kunya

  • Abdullah ibn Uthman ibn Amr al-Qurashi
    • Abu Bakr: Father of the young camel or the one who does things the earliest
    • Al-Ateeq: The freed one by Allah from the hellfire, freed one from death, noble countenance, of goodness for a very long time (from meaning of old or ancient)
    • As-Siddeeq
    • As-Saahib
    • Al-Atqaa
    • Al-Awwaah
  • Abd Ar-Raḥmān ibn Ṣakhr ad-Dawsī al-Azdī was known as Abu Hureyrah: Father of the kitten
  • Ali ibn Abi Talib was known as:
    • Abul-Hasan: Father of Hasan
    • Abu Turab: Father of dust or the one covered in dust
    • Abu al-Hasan wal-Husayn: Father of Hasan an Husayn
    • Abu al-Qasim al-Hashimi
    • Abu as Sibtayn
  • Umar ibn Al-Khattab was known as Abu Hafs: Father of Hafs

The Prophets Sunnah Regarding Nicknames

The Prophet (ﷺ) emphasized the importance of good names that truly reflected an individuals personality, their relationships or their actions. If an individual had a name or kunyah that did not fit the individual he (ﷺ) would give them something more appropriate.

He (ﷺ) taught that it is ok to use the given name of an individual if it has a good meaning, but one should not take another kunyah and use it as a given name when he made the statement, "Call yourselves by my name but do not call yourselves by my Kunyah."

Narrations

Chapter: Manners

Narrated Abu Hurairah: that the Prophet (ﷺ) prohibited that one use his name and his Kunyah; naming themselves Muhammad Abul-Qasim. [1]

حَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ، حَدَّثَنَا اللَّيْثُ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَجْلاَنَ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم نَهَى أَنْ يَجْمَعَ أَحَدٌ بَيْنَ اسْمِهِ وَكُنْيَتِهِ وَيُسَمَّى مُحَمَّدًا أَبَا الْقَاسِمِ ‏.‏ وَفِي الْبَابِ عَنْ جَابِرٍ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ ‏.‏ وَقَدْ كَرِهَ بَعْضُ أَهْلِ الْعِلْمِ أَنْ يَجْمَعَ الرَّجُلُ بَيْنَ اسْمِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَكُنْيَتِهِ وَقَدْ فَعَلَ ذَلِكَ بَعْضُهُمْ ‏.‏ رُوِيَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنَّهُ سَمِعَ رَجُلاً، فِي السُّوقِ يُنَادِي يَا أَبَا الْقَاسِمِ فَالْتَفَتَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ لَمْ أَعْنِكَ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ "‏ لاَ تَكْتَنُوا بِكُنْيَتِي ‏"‏ ‏.‏ حَدَّثَنَا بِذَلِكَ الْحَسَنُ بْنُ عَلِيٍّ الْخَلاَّلُ حَدَّثَنَا يَزِيدُ بْنُ هَارُونَ عَنْ حُمَيْدٍ عَنْ أَنَسٍ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم بِهَذَا ‏.‏ وَفِي هَذَا الْحَدِيثِ مَا يَدُلُّ عَلَى كَرَاهِيَةِ أَنْ يُكْنَى أَبَا الْقَاسِمِ ‏.‏


Chapter: Combining the name and the kunyah of the Prophet (ﷺ)

باب الْجَمْعِ بَيْنَ اسْمِ النَّبِيِّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ وَكُنْيَتِهِ

It was narrated from Muhammad that they heard Abu Hurairah say: "Abul Qasim (ﷺ) said: 'Call yourselves by my name but do not call yourselves by my Kunyah."[2]

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ بْنُ عُيَيْنَةَ، عَنْ أَيُّوبَ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ، يَقُولُ قَالَ أَبُو الْقَاسِمِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ‏ "‏ تَسَمَّوْا بِاسْمِي وَلاَ تَكَنَّوْا بِكُنْيَتِي ‏"

Notes

  1. Sahih (Darussalam) Jami` at-Tirmidhi Vol. 5, Book 41, Hadith 2841: Book of Good Manners and Form (Al-Adab) كتاب الأدب - Arabic reference: Book 43, Hadith 3076
  2. Sahih (Darussalam) Sunan Ibn Majah Vol. 5, Book 33, Hadith 3735: Book of Prayers (Salat) كتاب الصلاة - Arabic reference: Book 43, Hadith 3076