The number and the names of the children of Ali ibn Abi Talib

Before engaging in a direct discussion concerning the names of the three sons of Ali, it is important to gain a background and a context to the matter. While sources differ ,  according to Shaykh Al Mufid  -arguably one of the greatest classical scholars in Shia Islam- in his book Kitab Al Irshad, Ali ibn Abi Talib had approximately 27 children. Al Mufid has been used as being a Shia, he has included the names Umar, Uthman, and Muhammed -Al Asghar, who had the Kunya Abu Bakr in his list. 

  1. Al-Hasan  2. Al-Husayn 3. Zaynab the elder  4. Zaynab the younger, who was given the Kunya Umm Kulthum.  5. Muhammad, who was given the kunya Abu al-Qasim. His mother was Khawla, daughter of Jaâfar b. Qays al-Hanaf 6. Umar  7. Ruqayya 8. Al-Abbas 9. Jaâfar 10. Uthman 11. Abd Allah  12. Muhammad, the younger, who was given the kunya Abu-Bakr.  13. Ubayd Allah 14. Yahya,  15.Um al-Hasan 16. Ramlah, 17. Nafeesah, 18.  Zaynab al-Sughra, 19. Ruqayyah al-Sughra, 20. Um Hana’, 21. Um al-Kiram, 22.  Jamanah  23. Amama, 24. Um Salamah, 25. Maymunah, 26. Khadeejah, 27. Fatimah

As we can see above, Ali ibn Abi Talib had 11 sons, and arguably twelve if we count his unborn son Mohsin he also had 16 daughters, and these children came from a number of wives. To readers in the 21st century, one may assume he had one or two wives, and perhaps five or six children and of this pool, three happened to be named Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman. However, the reality is that he had a dozen sons, and over a dozen daughters.  While this does not in and of itself prove anything, what it does make clear is that he had sons who went by a variety of names, and they were of a large number. I must note here that, despite having many sons, the fact these were common names is not a sufficient reason for why he named them with these particular names, but the fact he had many sons is an important part with respect to the context of the discussion.

Before we delve into the naming of his sons, it is pertinent here to note that of all his sixteen daughters, he does not happen to name a single one Aisha. This itself does not prove there was animosity between Ali and Aisha, however, it does give food for thought for those who base such a strong emphasis on what names one chose for their children.