The Ummayads and importance of name


Some might claim that the Shiite perspective on the Ummayads as well as the alleged act of changing names is ‘one big Shiite conspiracy’. However, it is essential to examine the socio political context of the time, particularly pertaining to the importance of names and genealogy. 

It is an undisputed fact, there was a major schism between the Banu Hashim, and the Banu Ummayah, as well as the cursing of Ali ibn Abi Talib [as]. Banu Ummayah sought influence and power, and saw the Banu Hashim as their biggest threat, given there were groups who wished to defy them on the basis of the belief leadership should be in the house of Muhammed wa ale Muhammed [asws]. They thus, performed a campaign to demonise Ali [as], eradicate his name, and his mention. In a future piece, we will explain how this was achieved through many means, including the fabrication of traditions in honour of the first three Caliphs to balance out the praise in favour of Ali ibn Abi Talib. This can be proven at another time, but it would have been very effective in making the masses believe there was nothing special about Ali ibn Abi Talib,  as there were three men better than he, and he never had a claim to leadership after the death of the prophet Muhammed [saw].

In returning back to the topic of the importance of names and genealogy for the Ummayads, we wish to present a report from Tarikh at-Tabari, where the infamous Umayyad Caliph decides to change the Qunya of a child who was named in honour of Ali ibn Abi Talib [as]:

“Ali b. `Abdallah b. `Abbas b. `Abd al-Muttalib. His mother was Zur’ah bt. Mishrah b. Ma`di-Karib b. Wali’ah b. Shurahbil b. Mu`awiyah b. Hujr al-Qird b. al-Harith al-Walladah b. `Amr b. Mu`awiyah b. al-Harith b. Mu`awiyah b. Thawr b. Muratti’ b. Thawr, that is, Kindah. His kunyah was Abu Muhammad. 

It was reported that he was born the night `Ali b. Abi Talib, the Commander of the Faithful, was killed, in Ramadan 40/February 661. He therefore was given both the name and the kunyah of [`Ali b. Abi Talib], that is, Abu al-Hasan. `Abd al-Malik b. Marwan said to him: “By God, I shall not tolerate it that you would use both the name and the kunyah [of `Ali b. Abi Talib].” So he changed his kunyah and made it Abu Muhammad.

Here is what it states in the foot-notes: 

l-Tabari, Ta’rikh, II, 1592. The matter of genealogy and family relations within the Quraysh was of crucial importance in Umayyad propaganda, which is reflected in the stance taken by `Abd al-Malik; see Sharon, “The Umayyads.

Thus, it would be of no surprise for the Ummayads to do likewise to the children of Banu Hashim. We do not here claim that this was the case, or that this did occur. However, it is a plausible explanation for some of the potential Kunyas [honorific titles] given to some of the sons of Ali ibn Abi Talib and their descendants. Given that there is compelling and compelling evidence Ali ibn Abi Talib was cursed on the very pulpit of the Prophet (saw) during the Friday prayer and in other mosques all over Arabia and the Muslim lands during the time of the Ummayads, and the enmity there had been, it would not come as a particular surprise.