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Descendants of Ali, the fourth Caliph, and the first Imam (according to Shi'i Islam).
Ali was the father of 14 sons and at least 17 daughters, with at least as many as 22 women. The Alids are his descendants through all of these. His wives were as recorded: Fatima, who was his only wife until she died in 633; Ummu l-Banin; Layla; Asma'; Ummu l-Habib (Sahba); Umama; Khawla; Umm Sa'id; Mahyat. Other women are recorded too, but for these we do not know much, and little about whether they gave Ali children or not (Women named 'Umm' first must have been mothers since 'Umm' is an honorary title meaning 'Mother of'): Umm Hani'; Maimuna; Zainab; Ramla; Umm Kulthum; Fatima; Umama; Khadija; Ummu l-Kiram; Umm Salama; Umm Jafar; Jumana; Nafisa.
The principal Alids were the ones from the marriage with Fatima, Hassan and Husayn, the second and the third Imam of Shi'i Islam. Most of the early Alids were unfortunate, and their sad stories fill large parts of the historical texts from this period.
All through Muslim history, groups have claimed to be of Alid origin, often without much justification. Dynasties like the Fatimids and the Almohads, were probably not really Alids, even when claiming so. In more recent times, Alids have carried titles like saiyyid and sharīf, and have had the right to wear a green turban. An Alid of modern times must prove his heritage by a certificate or genealogical tree. In modern times, Alid descendancy carries little but status, and have lost all political importance compared to earlier times.

By Tore Kjeilen