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Birth of Imam Ali (a) Inside the Ka'ba

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Fatima bt. Asad after delivering his son, 'Ali (a), exiting from Ka'ba, painting by Mahmud Farshchiyan

Birth of Imam 'Ali (a) in the Ka'ba counts as his exclusive virtue. In different Shiite and Sunni sources, the story of the birth of Imam 'Ali (a) in the Ka'ba is said to be mutawatir (frequently cited), although there are differences as to its details. Books have been written about Imam 'Ali's birth in the Ka'ba, including 'Ali walid al-Ka'ba ('Ali born in the Ka'ba) by Muhammad 'Ali Urdubadi (1312/1895-1380/1960), which has been translated into Persian under Yigana mawlud-i Ka'ba (the only one born in the Ka'ba).

According to some Sunni sources, Hakim b. Hizam, a companion of the Prophet (s), was also born in the Ka'ba. Shiite scholars believe, however, that the story was fabricated in order to deny the virtues of Imam 'Ali (a).

In Sources

Al-'Allama al-Amini has cited sixteen Sunni sources and fifty Shiite sources according to which Imam 'Ali (a) was born in the Ka'ba. He has also mentioned forty one poets from the second to the fourteenth/twentieth century who have made references to the birth of Imam 'Ali (a) in their poems.

In the book, Sharh ihqaq al-haqq, the birth of Imam 'Ali (a) in the Ka'ba is reported from seventeen Sunni sources. Sibt b. al-Jawzi, Ibn Sabbagh al-Maliki, and 'Ali b. Burhan al-Din al-Halabi are Sunni scholars who have talked about Imam 'Ali's birth in the Ka'ba. The books, al-Mustadrak 'ala al-sahihayn and Kifayat al-talib, claim that reports of the birth of Imam 'Ali (a) in the Ka'ba are mutawatir.


The story of the birth of Imam 'Ali (a) in the Ka'ba is cited in three ways in different sources:

  • According to a hadith cited in Bisharat al-Mustafa by 'Imad al-Din al-Tabari, a Shiite scholar of fifth and sixth/eleventh and twelfth centuries as quoted from Yazid b. Qa'nab, Fatima bt. Asad was near the Ka'ba when she felt labor pains. She asked God to ease the labor for her. At this time, the back part of the Ka'ba (near al-Rukn al-Yamani) was split and Fatima went inside. Then the gap was closed again. Yazid b. Qa'nab is quoted as saying: "whatever we did, we could not open the door of the Ka'ba. Thus, we understood that this was done by God. Fatima bt. Asad left the Ka'ba after four days while she had 'Ali in her arms."
  • According to al-Hasan b. 'Ali al-Tabari (alive in 701/1301) in his book, Tuhfat al-abrar, Fatima bt. Asad, Imam 'Ali's mother, had labor pains when she was circumambulating the Ka'ba, and she could not return home. Thus, she turned towards the Ka'ba. The door of the Ka'ba was opened, and she went inside. Then the door was closed and she gave birth to 'Ali inside the Ka'ba. She was inside for three days.

Story of Hakim b. Hizam

Al-Shaykh al-Mufid believes that Imam 'Ali's birth inside the Ka'ba was one of his exclusive virtues, which never happened to anyone before him and will never happen to anyone after him. Notwithstanding this, some Sunni sources claim that one of the Prophet's companions named Hakim b. Hizam, was born inside the Ka'ba as well. It is believed by some people, nevertheless, that the narrative was fabricated by the family of al-Zubayr—a companion of the Prophet (s)—in order to deny Imam 'Ali's virtues because of friendship with his remote cousin, since Hakim b. Hizam b. Khuwaylid b. Asad b. Abd al-'Uzza and the family of al-Zubayr have Asad b. 'Abd al-'Uzza as a common ancestor.

Moreover, the chain of narration of the story is objected, including the following:

  • Mus'ab b. 'Uthman is unknown and is never mentioned in any source of rijal.
  • The hadith is mursal (that is, some people in its chain of transmitters are not mentioned), since Mus'ab b. 'Uthman, the narrator of the story, was born years after the alleged event. Thus, he could not directly report the story.

See Also