Zena's youth was briefly explored in the Aladdin comic story, The Mysterious Amulet, where she is engaged to a lamp-seller named Hamid. The story portrays Zena as having been just as adventurous as her son, with a no-nonsense attitude towards those who judge her based on her gender. She was also a skilled fighter, having battled Aladdin one-on-one. The final panels show that she named Aladdin after a dog belonging to one of her patrons.
In the film Aladdin and the King of Thieves, her death was mentioned by Aladdin, who said she died when he was a kid. It was also clarified that Aladdin lived with her and her husband Cassim until the latter decided to leave the family in hopes of finding a better life for them. While Cassim was away, Aladdin's mother unexpectedly died, leaving the young Aladdin to become an orphan and subsequently a thief. Meanwhile, Cassim would return to the abandoned home too late and believe his wife and son had died, and, in his grief, he was motivated to become the leader of the Forty Thieves.
Before Cassim left, Cassim asked his wife to give Aladdin his dagger, a request she had apparently carried out before she died as Aladdin possessed the dagger until adulthood, which is what causes Cassim to discover Aladdin's true identity when the two reunite years later.
The unnamed mother of Aladdin was conceived in the early stages for Aladdin; at one point she had a major role in one draft for the film. However, as development progressed, the character was removed from the film (along with many other characters) to streamline the story. However, on the Aladdin DVD, the scene where she and the Genie urge Aladdin to tell Jasmine the truth is included in the deleted scenes. In the actual film, it is stated in "One Jump Ahead" that Aladdin has no parents.
Role in the film
In an earlier rendition, the plot of Aladdin revolved around Aladdin raised in the lower parts of Agrabah with his mother. At the beginning of the story, Aladdin's mother was very frustrated with her son because he was supporting her with thievery and she wanted to be able to make her living an honest way. One day, Aladdin's mother made plans to go out and sell a rug that she had previously woven, hoping to get a fair price for it. When Aladdin volunteered to do it for her, she begrudgingly let him but warned him to keep out of trouble. Unfortunately, Aladdin ended up losing the rug to a swindler.
Upon learning of this, Aladdin's mother became very distressed and despite her son's objections, agreed to sell her engagement ring. It was at this point that Aladdin realized that he had never been a very good son and that night as his mother slept, he secretly returned her engagement ring while vowing to one day make her proud via the song "Proud of Your Boy".
Her son returned from the Cave of Wonders with the Genie, Aladdin's mother was very pleased to find that the Genie could provide for them. She was even happier after Aladdin had made his wish to become a prince, because she was invited to come and live in the palace with him. However, she was still very displeased with her son for deceiving Jasmine and believed that he owed it to Jasmine to tell her the truth.
At the end of the film, when Aladdin finally came clean to Jasmine about who he is, his mother hugged him and stated that she had never been more proud of him.
Aladdin (Marvel Comics)
In Issue #6 of the comic book series published by Marvel Comics, Aladdin uses Genie's magic to travel back in time in search of information about his parents after finding an amulet with his name engraved into it. During his time in the past, Aladdin is attacked by a giant bird. He is rescued by a hooded woman, who reveals herself to be Zena. Zena explains that the bird (known as the "Roc") has been tormenting Agrabah by stealing various treasures and hoarding it atop its nest. Zena has her eyes on the nest, needing to retrieve a valuable object belonging to her patron. Aladdin offers to help, which Zena nonchalantly accepts. Along the way, Aladdin runs into a group of centaurs, whom Zena is familiar with. She guides Aladdin to safety, and shortly afterwards, to the Roc's nest, which is surrounded by a giant spider's web. There, Aladdin takes a handful of treasure and throws it off the nest, which the Roc flies after only to inadvertently trap himself in the spider's web. With the Roc defeated, Zena gathers the amulet she was searching for and delivers it to her patron with Aladdin.
It turns out, the amulet belonged to a dog's collar—a dog named Aladdin. A disappointed Aladdin laments the revelation, disappointed in having endured a wild goose chase. He wishes to return to the present, which Genie obliges—but not before Zena thanks him for his help and friendship. After Aladdin departs, Zena's fiance, Hamid, arrives and announces that he's snagged a job as a lamp seller. Now a family with income, Zena and Hamid anticipate their marriage. Zena also mentions having a name idea for their future son: "Aladdin."
- There is a concept art image of the main cast that includes Aladdin's mother. Most of the character's names are below and under Aladdin's mother is a name; the first letter looks sort of like an "H" however it is very hard to make out.
- In the comic, Zena is engaged to a lamp seller named Hamid. However, in the film, she was the wife to the King of Thieves, Cassim. It is possible that Hamid was a mistake on the author (the comics were made before Aladdin and the King of Thieves was made) or Zena may have left him once she met Cassim.
- She named her son after the name of a dog. Similar to Indiana Jones, both in the films and in real life.
- She is briefly, indirectly mentioned in the live action version of the film, along with Aladdin's father. Aladdin mentions to Jasmine that he lost both of his parents at a young age.