Kunyahs (Nicknames) for Men Based on Female Names

Is it against the Sunnah to have a kunyah (parental nickname) based on a female child’s name, like Aboo ‘Aa’ishah (the father of ‘Aa’ishah) or Umm ‘Aa’ishah (the mother of ‘Aa’ishah), because they are the parents of a girl named ‘Aa’ishah?  Someone told me that the Sunnah is to use male names only in kunyahs.

While male names were predominantly used in kunyahs, there is nothing against having a kunyah based on a female name, like Aboo ‘Aa’ishah.

A group of the Companions had kunyas like this, namely:

  • Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan (Aboo Laylaa)
  • Aboo Hurayrah
  • Aboo Umaamah
  • Aboo Ad-Dardaa’ 
  • Umm Ad-Dardaa’
  • Aboo Ruqayyah Tameem ad-Daaree
  • Aboo Kareemah al-Miqdaam ibn Ma’di-karb
  • Aboo Laylaa, the father of ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Abee Laylaa
  • Aboo Rayhaanah
  • Aboo Reemah
  • Aboo ‘Amrah Basheer ibn ‘Amr
  • Aboo Faatimah Al-Laythee
  • Aboo Maryam Al-Azdee

These Comapanions’ kunyahs were all mentioned by an-Nawawee in his book, al-Athkaar (pp.425-426 of ‘Abdul-Qaadir al-Arna’oot’s checking), in the chapter entitled: The Chapter of Taking a Kunyah Like Aboo Fulaanah and Aboo Fulaan, or Umm Fulaan or Umm Fulaanah for a Woman.

Since the Prophet (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) never showed any dislike for any of these kunyahs, we can then consider kunyahs based on female names like these as being Sunnah, meaning: Sunnah Taqreeriyyah (Sunnah established through his approval, but not his own practice or statement).

And Allaah knows best.

Written by: Moosaa Richardson

19 thoughts on “Kunyahs (Nicknames) for Men Based on Female Names

  1. As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum,

    Bismillah: May Allah reward you for the enlightening Usool al-Fiqh (Foundations of Fiqh) benefit about Sunnah Taqreeriyyah. It is in direct accordance with Imaam Juwaynee’s [d. 478 AH], position in his well-known Usool al-Fiqh book, “Al-Waraqaat.” He, may Allah have mercy on him, said: “And the approval of [the Messenger], prayers and peace upon him, is similar to his own statement or action.”

    • wa ‘alaykumus-salaamu wa rahmatullaah,

      Thanks akhee for the comment and the quote. While the scholars of Usool typically list Taqreer as the third (after statements and actions) and most indirect way of establishing a Sunnah, do you (or anybody else who wants to answer) know why it could be considered stronger as a proof than Sunnahs established by clear statements and actions in many cases?

      • Hope that Ustaadh Moosaa (or anyone) could share the benefit soon for us readers why Sunnah Taqreeri could be considered stronger as a proof than Sunnahs established by clear statements and actions.in many cases.

        Jazaakallahu khyr for sharing the benefits

        Baarakallahu feekum

      • as-salaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullaahi,

        BaarakAllaahu feekum and jazaakAllaahu khayraa for the benefits Ustaadh.

        As regards the question: could it be that it (Sunnah Taqreeriyyah) is a stronger proof than actions of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم because it could be said that those actions were particularly for him and not the rest of the Ummah or that his sayings should be understood in a particular way, whereas Taqreer shows his approval (& thus the legislation) of an action / Sunnah for the Ummah performed in a way it should be performed?

        I hope that’s clear; wa jazaakAllaahu khayraa.

      • the Answer could be…

        That the statements and actions can be interpreted diferently, while as Al-Iqraar can’t. because of the qaa’ida – Ta’kheerul Bayaani ‘an waqtil haajati laa yajoozu bil ijmaa’.

  2. As salaamu alaykum,

    I have somewhat of a notion,though in all likeliness wrong:

    A tacit approval is aslan an approval of an action done by one of the sahaabas and not an action initiated by the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wasallam which is obviously automatically accepted.An action by one of the sahaaba could be wrong or right,and so an approval by the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wasallam would give it more weight in that if it was wrong the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wasallam would definitely have rebuked it there and then,and so there’s no shakk whatsoever about the establishment of this.And the fact that the action/statement came from someone other than the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wasallam and was approved ,makes it a stronger proof..?

    Allaahu a’lam

  3. Good answers, may Allaah bless you. In brief, and to summarize these good answers: When the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said or did something, there is a (small) chance that that statement or action was specific to him. This can only be known by other clear evidences and indications, since the generality of his speech and actions are for guidance. So when something happened around him and he did not object to it, it proves (at least) the permissibility of that thing for the rest of the Ummah, and there is no chance that it could be specific to him alone, since it wasn’t his statement or action to begin with. This is why it is stronger as a proof in some cases, and Allaah knows best.

  4. السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

    We are taking care of an orphan girl whose parents are unkown to us and she is 3 and half months when we started fostering her. She is breastfed by my brother ‘ s wife and my husband’s brother s wife five separate times. We named her Hamna Fatimah.

    Can we call us Umm Hamna Fatimah and Abu Hamna Fatimah? Can we take that kunya as we don’t have kids of our own? Is it permissible as we established mehram relation through breastfeeding her? Please enlighten us brother .

    جزاك الله خيرا

    • وعليك السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته

      What is prohibited is that she be named “Hamna bint ____ (name of foster father, or father through breast feeding)”

      Terms of affection within the house, like calling the girl, “my daughter”, or the girl calling her adoptive parents “Mama & Baba” and the likes, this is all fine. When the girl is old enough to understand, she must be told her story.

      Likewise, it is OK to take on a kunyaa that is not real. Calling the adoptive parents Umm Hamna & Abu Hamna is OK, so long as it does not lead to any real affirmation of them as the actual parents by lineage. And Allaah knows best.

  5. As-salaamu’alaykum warahmatullaah.
    What is the ruling with regards to taking the nickname ‘Abul-Qaasim’? Or is it specific to the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam) alone?
    JazaakAllaahu khayraa

    • Wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. That was a prohibition of combining between the name Muhammad and the kunyaa Abul-Qaasim, and some scholars mentioned that it was for his lifetime, so no one would be confused who the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) was. As for someone today having the kunyaa, “Abul-Qaasim”, then this is permissible, and Allaah knows best.

  6. As salamu alaikum waramatullahi wa barakatuh…… If you only have daughters and no sons, what kunya do you give yourself? Is it your eldest daughter? BarakAllahu feekum.

    • wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. Kunyahs do not need to be real. Aboo Bakr, Aboo Hurayrah, Aboo ‘Umayr (“Yaa Abaa Umayr…”), Umm ‘Abdillaah (‘Aa’ishah), these are all examples of kunyahs among the Companions not based on their children. Later, great scholars were known by kunyahs like Aboo Zakariyyaa an-Nawawee and Abul-‘Abbaas Ibn Taymiyyah, and they never got married or had kids. And Allaah knows best.

  7. As salaamu alaykum my name is abu suhaiylah al amreekee

    I wanted to know if it is permissible to take on the second child name as your kunyah as opposed your first child or can a father pick which child name he wishes to take as his kunyah?

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