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Names are a very important part of a person’s identity. A name carries a meaning, and each person desires one that has a good and positive meaning. A person’s identity can influence his behavior, as well as the behavior of other people toward him. Therefore, Muslims should have good names and choose good ones for their children.
Boys’ names in Islam
There are several categories of boys’ names. The first and most well-known ones are Abd-Allah and Abd al-Rahmaan. This is according to a Hadith in Sahih Muslim, where the Prophet (PBUH) said that these are among those that Allah loves the most.
Abd means slave. Therefore, the second category contains those that have Abd along with one of Allah’s names, such as Abd al-Aziz or Abd al-Basit.
The third category includes those of known prophets in Islam. Muhammad is, of course, the most popular one. Others, such as Adam, Ibrahim, Dawud, Sulaiman, Shuaib, Ishaq, Musa, and Isa are also good choices.
In the next category, we can include the names of righteous people before us.
Besides this, any names that have good or acceptable meanings are permissible.
Girls’ names in Islam
Unlike boys, there aren’t many specified names from the Sunnah for girls. However, the identities of some prominent women in Islam are highly praiseworthy. This includes Maryam, the mother of Isa (PBUH); Khadija and Aisha, the wives of the Prophet (PBUH); Sarah, the wife of Ibrahim (PBUH); Aaminah, the mother of the Prophet (PBUH); Sumayyah, the first martyr of the Muslims at the hands of the Quraish.
Among other girls’ names with good meanings are Arwa, Basmah, Zaynab, Salma, etc.
The etiquette of naming children
Names must not indicate the worship of anyone other than Allah. Hence, we cannot utilize the likes of Abd al-Rasool and Abd al-Kaabah.
Other names that Muslims shouldn’t use are those that are exclusively used by people of other religions or those of false gods or idols. Muslims should avoid using identities with negative meanings or attached characteristics. The common trend of naming children after famous personalities such as singers, etc., isn’t allowed either. This can only be permissible depending on the intention, and if they have good meanings.
Names should be appropriate and suitable for the person and common in the area. Having a strange identity that isn’t known in an area can be a cause of gaining unwanted attention or bullying, especially during childhood.
Do converts have to change their names?
This is one of the most common misconceptions. Many converts get a second name when they accept Islam, and they utilize two identities.
Islam is a religion for all of humanity. Muslims live in all types of communities around the world. Hence, keeping a specific type of name isn’t necessary. People can keep names that are acceptable in their own society. However, the meaning must not be something offensive or against the tenets of Islam. If that is the case, then the change is required.
Do all Muslims need to have Arabic identities?
This is another misconception. In countries all over the world, people give Muslims Arabic names. While there is nothing wrong with this, it is not recommended either. People do not need to put specific focus toward achieving this outcome.
Names should be those that fit in the community. Muslims live in societies all over the world, not in one monolithic group. There is nothing wrong with having an identity that is well-known in the area. As long as the meaning is fine, they can keep their identity. There were many prophets who were non-Arabs, and they didn’t have Arab identities.