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'Umdat al-talib fi ansab Al Abi Talib (book)

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'Umdat al-talib
Author Ahmad b. 'Ali b. Husayn al-Husayni
Language Arabic
Series 1 vol
Subject Biography of Al Abi Talib
Genre Historic

ʿUmdat al-ṭālib fi ansāb Āl Abī Ṭālib (Arabic: عُمدة الطالب في أنساب آل ابي طالب) is among the books of genealogy written by Ahmad b. 'Ali b. al-Husayn al-Husayni known as Ibn 'Inaba (Arabic: ابن عنبه) (d. 828/1424) who was a Shi'a scholar. This book is about the children of Abu Talib and 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a).

About the Author

Al-Sayyid Jamāl al-Dīn Aḥmad b. ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusayn al-Ḥasanī al-Ḥusaynī (b. ~748/1347- d. 828/1424), known as Ibn ʿInaba (ابن عنبه) was a Shi'a historian and genealogist. He was Ibn Mu'ayya's student and lived contemporary with al-Shahid al-Awwal. Both Ibn 'Inaba and al-Shahid al-Awwal have quoted from al-'Allama al-Hilli through Ibn Mu'ayya. His most important book is 'Umdat al-talib fi ansab Al Abi Talib. There are disagreements among scholars over his school of thoughts. There is some evidence that he was either a Zaydi or a Twelver Shi'a.


Arabs care about their lineage very much and have written many books on the subject in the past. Some of these works are about the progeny of the Prophet (s) and the descendants of Abu Talib, some of them are written by Shi'as and some by non-Shi'as.

In these works, there are also historical reports which are not included in other usual historical books.


Ibn 'Inaba wrote the same work in three versions with different volumes:

  • The first version which is the most comprehensive version, but it is disorganized. It is possibly written in 802/1399 and have been dedicated to Amir Taymur Gurkani and therefore, it has been called 'Umdat al-Talib Taymuri. At the beginning of the book, the author says that he has adopted most of the content from the concise book written by his teacher, Abu l-Hasan 'Ali b. Muhammad b. 'Ali b. Sufi and from another book written by Shaykh Abu l-Nasr Sahl b. 'Abd Allah Bukhari and that he has adopted some points from other sources.
  • The second version is known as 'Umdat al-Talib Jalali written in 812/1409 as a selection of two third of the first version. The author organized it with an introduction and three chapters and each chapter has some parts and dedicated it to Jalal al-Din Hasan b. 'Ali b. Hasan b. Muhammad al-Husayni.
  • Ibn 'Inaba compiled the third version for Sultan Sharif Muhammad b. Fallah al-Musha'sha'i, the ancestor of Sayyid families of Huwayza and finished it on 10th of Safar 827/1423.

Mar'ashi Najafi called the three versions, Kubra [big], Wusta [middle] and Sughra [small] respectively.


In 'umdat al-talib Jalali, the author brings an extensive introduction and then lists the ancestors of Ibrahim (a) (Abraham) and then his descendants down to Abu Talib. Then, he talks about 'Aqil, Ja'far and 'Ali (a) among the children of Abu Talib and in the following chapter, speaks about their children in brief. Finally, he speaks about the progeny of 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) in details, beginning with his children al-Hasan (a), al-Husayn (a), Muhammad al-Hanafiyya, al-'Abbas and 'Umar al-Atraf in 5 chapters.

In his genealogical report, he offers little yet helpful information about the expansion of the children of 'Ali (a) in land and their settling which can be a good guide for historians. Recent historians and hadith scholars such as Kia Gilani in Siraj al-ansab, al-Hurr al-'Amili in Amal al-Amil and al-Majlisi in Bihar al-anwar have greatly benefited from 'Umdat al-talib.


Chapters and parts of the book are not very clear and comprehensible and to find a person or his lineage in such books, one needs to extensively search around them, since it is possible that studying the progeny of one of the Imams (a) and the discussion becomes prolonged and from old generations goes back to far before that to their ancient ancestors.

The author has not mentioned all his references, but in some cases, he mentions the name of a narrator or a book from which he narrates a certain story.