Umm flan Abu flan, Bint flan, Ibn flan- the Arab Kunya

I was talking to friends awhile ago that object to the Arab/Muslim title. Such as Umm fulan, or Bint fulan. They were saying they didn’t like that because it took their individuality away. I was trying not to feel slighted as I was the only one with any Arab blood in the room(I am half).

But I tried to put forward the idea that it is an honor to be addresses by your kids and it is also an honor for your kids to be your kids. Like Shaykh Hamza Yusuf said, Maryam’s honor was not only being Umm Isa. Isa was honored by always being called Ibn Maryam. Isa ibn Maryam, Isa, the son of Mary, that is how he is addressed in the Qur’an.

In my family, we don’t use titles as much as people do from other Arab countries, but we still use it as last names and such. It also comes in handy when there are 2 people with the same names in the same room! You call them by who their parents are!

I know I’m biased but I like always relating the kids to the parents. Even though I am yet to have kids. I think we Americans take individuality to an extreme level.



  1. Umm Zaid Said:

    Salaam ‘Alaikum

    It’s not just a Muslim / Arab thing either. Look how many people in the US have screen names or refer to themselves as “Justin’s Mommy” or even “Cop’s Wife.”

  2. tradicionalista Said:

    ya good point

  3. Danya Said:

    The kunya is not merely to denote your children but can also be a nickname. For example, if you are known for being happy, your nickname could be Umm Farah. For example, Abu Hurayra was known for having pet kittens, but he did not have a son named Hurayra. Hurayra means cats so it is denoting what he is known for. So it doesn’t have to take away your individuality if you use it like that.

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