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A Guide to Islamic Names

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A Guide to Islamic Names

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									                        ‫א‬              ))      ‫א‬         ()   ‫א‬   ‫א‬

                                                          ((          ‫א‬
Abu Ad-Dardaa) ) narrated: The Messenger of Allah  said: On the Day of
Judgment, you will be called by your names and by your fathers’ names;
therefore, keep your good names.


 Bashir Muhammad Al-Ma’sumi

            Al-Darut Ta’limiyyah
             Makkah Al-Mukarramah
                 Saudi Arabia
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful 

    © Ad-Darut Talimiyyah
     King Fahad National Library Cataloging-in-Publication Data
                       Al-Ma’sumi, Bashir Muhammad
                     A Guide to Islamic Names, Jeddah.
                                  …p.,.. cm.-
                                 ISBN: 9960-35-882-8
                   1- Names, Personal-Islamic      I - Title
                  929.4 dc                         0731/20
                       Legal Deposit no. 0731/20
                             ISBN: 9960-35-882-8

First Edition: 1990: 1410 H.
Second Edition: 1999: 1420 H.
Third Edition: 2004: 1424 H.???

Trade orders and all other inquiries should be addressed to:

Al-Darut Ta’limiyyah
P. O. Box: 1344
Makkah Al-Mukarramah
Saudi Arabia.
Tel. 5275362(Off.), 5274179 (Res.), Mobile 054507551
e-mail: bashir_masumi@yahoo.com.

Personal inquiries should be addressed to:
Bashir Muhammad Al-Ma’sumi
Author of the book.
P. O. Box: 1344
Makkah Al-Mukarramah
Saudi Arabia.
Tel:    5274179 (Res.) 5275362(Off.) Mobile            054507551
e-mail: bashir_masumi@yahoo.com

Other writings of the author:
   1. Namkarone Islami Paddhati (the same book in Bengali)
   2. Naam Rakhne ka Islami Tarikah (the same book in Urdu)
   3. M inhaj At-Tasmisah fil Islam (same book in Arabic)
   4. Islamic Education (1-10): This series has been widely accepted as a
      textbook for Islamic schools in different parts of the world. This the
      most desirable textbook for the Muslim children so far. The
      translation in different languages of this series is on the way.
   5. Procholit Bhul (General M istakes) in Bengali, Urdu and Arabic
   6. Articles on Islamic subject and short stories.
   7. Translation of the meaning of the Qur’an (Juz ‘Amma) into

Dedicated to:


Naming of persons, places, things, roads, towns etc., is as ancient as the history of
mankind. The art of naming varies from place to place depending on the religious, cultural
and historical background of the group concerned. The basis and structure of Onomastics
(the science of names and naming) exposes the effects that literary, linguistic and
customary heritage has on names.
The ancient Greeks used a father’s name to identify his son by using the genetic form or
by adding a suitable element before or after the name. A daughter’s name was tied to that
of the man-folk but with a feminine ending. The Romans, on the other hand, had a much
more complicated system comprising the praenomen (personal name), the nomen (family
name) and the cognomen (nickname). The Celtic and Teutonic races have a simple system
based on a common stock of words considered suitable for making names. In Africa,
especially among the Asantes and Hausas, individuals were named after the days of the
Names are essentially a means of identification. A simple ‘patronymic’ system develops
and is detectable in surnames surviving the globe. Scholars are involved in the compilation
of books, dictionaries and references on names, notable among these in the West are A. J.
Kolatch’s “ The Name of Dictionary”, F. M. Laoughhead’s “ Dictionary of Given Names”
and E. G. Withycombes’s “ The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names”.
In the West, parents give consideration to factors like spelling, gender ambiguity,
diminutives, nicknames, simplicity, modishness, popularity and the general form of a
name giving a child name. In this way, however, a child is named without any regard to
religious norms. Although the above-mentioned factors are valid and worth considering,
religious traditions should not be ignored. Islam has this as the criterion in its art of name
and naming.
Unlike Jews and Christians, Muslims have a unique way of giving name, which is based
mainly on religious ethics reflecting on the linguistic, social, psychological and cultural
aspects in both this worldly life and the hereafter. The basis of this is the Hadith/ tradition
of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him)
“On the day of Judgement you will be called by your names and by your fathers’
names; therefore, keep you good names.”
The implication of this Hadith is that everybody should have a good and meaningful name.
The name of an individual bears the thought and belief of a man. Some nations regard
naming of children as merely prestigious. To a Muslim, however, it traverses prestige to
include not only social and cultural aspects but also religious responsibility. Prophet
Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) Hadith attests to this fact:
Ibn ‘Abbas narrated that the companions of the Prophet said:

O Messenger of Allah! We have known the rights of parent, but what are the
rights of children? He replied: The father will give a good name and proper
upbringing and education to his children.
Naming of not only persons but places, things etc., has a clear-cut method in Islam
which basically depends on the good omen that name denotes or connotes. It
becomes a nexus between the meaning and its reflections on the person, place or
object in beauty or ugliness. So, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah
be upon him) said:
Keep names after the names of the Prophets; the dearest names to Allah
are: ‘Abdullah and ‘Abdudr Rahman; the true names are: Hareth and
Hammam; the worst are: Harb and Murra.
It is, therefore, of utmost importance for a Muslim father to consider carefully
Islamic thoughts and teachings when naming his children and this is what this
present book intends to discuss
Mr. Bashir ibn Muhammad Al-Ma’sumi in this book excelled in introducing the
Muslim readers (especially in countries where little attention is paid to Islamic
teachings) to the significance of name and naming children in Islam. The impetus
for his writing this book came from the experience he went through for having an
objectionable name as Khairul Bashar, which is due to Prophet Muhammad
(peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) only. T he book consists of two parts:
the first part contains informative material on the art of names and naming in
Islam as explained in the Holy Qur’an, Sunnah and other Islamic sources, and the
second part provides the readers with names related to Allah, the Almighty, and
the names of the companions of Prophet Muhammad. T he book concludes with a
comprehensive list of acceptable Arabic names in Islam.
Mr. Bashir Al-Ma’sumi has, through this book, contributed to the cause of
Da’wah to enlighten his Muslim brethren on an important issue in life. The book
in general is informative in many respects with citations and quotations, Quranic
verses, Ahadith, proverbs, and poetry from different languages. In my view, the
work is of a scholarly caliber regarding the art of naming in general and in Islam
in particular.
T his book is really a breakthrough that would be of immense benefit to many
Muslim parents (especially English-speaking Muslims) in helping them find
befitting names for their children. It has no doubt filled a gap in the literature of
naming and provided a comprehensive dictionary of names found in the Islamic

Dr. ‘Adnan M. A. Wazzan
Ex-Deputy-Minister of Islamic Affairs & Endowments
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

                 Preface to the First Edition

It can be said that there is no reliable literature that provides Islamic principles to
guide Muslim parents to name their children properly. The ’Ulama (Islamic
Scholars) seem to be indifferent to this subject. Ordinary Muslims are ignorant of
this. In addition, due to the so-called Nationalism and an extreme Modernism, a
new Non-Islamic trend has developed in naming Muslim individuals. Therefore,
many mistakes are noticeable in the names of the Muslims. In the past few
decades, as a result of interactions between Arabs and Non-Arabs in the Middle–
East, the mistakes in their names become obvious. With the goal of correcting
such mistakes in Muslim names, this book discusse s various aspects related to
correct naming of Muslim individuals. Because of the interest and encouragement
of friends and well-wishers, I felt obliged to have this book printed in a hurry. As a
result of this hurried printing, it has not been possible to provide many names and
their meanings although it was my intention to further expand the scope of this
book. Under the present circumstances, it was not possible to do so. However, I
would like to further edit and expand the book in the future if the readers show
interest in, and appreciation for, this book.
Adequate attention has been given to the subject. I have tried my best so that the
utility and popularity of this book increases. I leave it to the kind readers to judge
the merit of this book. I will be grateful if the readers do not hesitate to send me
their well thought out comments and critiques, which I would be happy to
incorporate into the future edition, In Shaa Allah.
Finally, I express my thanks and gratitude to Allah, the Almighty without whose
favors and blessings it would not have been possible for an ordinary person like
me to write and publish this book. He is the One Who favors whom He wishes and
gives knowledge.

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Allah, the Almighty teaches us to ask Him:

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  "Say, O my Lord! Increase my knowledge (of Islam). "

Bashir Muhammad A l-Ma’sumi.
Makkah Al-Mukkarramah.
Ramadhan, 1410 H. / 1990.

           Preface to the Second Edition

The first edition of A Guide to Islam ic Nam es has been appreciated by
the readers. Critiques of this book have been published in various
new spapers. The Bengali version has gone into several editions and the
second edition of Urdu is going to come out soon. An Arabic version of this
book and Pustu translation are ready for printing.
 As a result of the interest, encouragement and request of the readers, I
realized the need for the second edition. In this edition, the subject matter
has been modified and expanded. Names and their meanings, w hich w ere
not provided in the first edition, have been included in this edition.
Although I have made careful efforts to rectify the errors in the previous
edition, I take full responsibility for any errors that may be noticed. I w ill be
grateful if any conscientious reader points out any errors that he may finds
in this edition.
Finally, I express my gratitude and thanks to Allah, the Almighty w ho has
led me from darkness to light, from ignorance to know ledge. Therefore, I
ask Him to guide and lead me to the right path. Am in!!!

Bashir Muhammad A l-Ma’sumi.
Makkah Al-Mukarramah
Safar, 1420 H / 1999.

               Preface to Third Edition

Many errors of the previous edition have been corrected and
suggestions of the conscientious readers have also been incorporated.
A new Chapter has also been added. It is expected that this edition
will be accurate and in the future this version will be reprinted - In
Shaa Allah         ‫א‬
All the facilities of the millennium age have been utilized such as the
use of the Qur’an and Hadith’s text directly from the CD; so the
present edition will be more presentable, reliable and attractive.
I must thank Umm Muhammad who read this book very carefully and
made valuable suggestions and corrected some mistakes. Jazaaha
Allaha khairal jazaa. ‫א א‬  ‫א א‬

Finally, I express my deep gratitude and sincere thanks to Allah
Subhanu wa Ta’laa for His countless blessings He has bestowed upon
me. So, I pray to Him: O my Lord! Accept my works and make it
beneficial to all Muslims, and inspire them to keep the right name.
Allah, the almighty instructs us to say:

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“O our Lord! Accept (this) from us. You are the Hear ing, the Know ing.”
                                                                               (Al-Baqarah, 127)

Bashir Muhammad Al-Ma’sumi
Makkah Al-Mukarramah
Ramadhan, 2004 / 1426 H.

                              PART ONE
Prologue ………………………………………………………………………                                         1
Names in General …………………………………………………………….                                    9
Names in Islam. ………………………………………………………………                                    14
Classification of Islamic Names: Ism, Kunyah, Nasab, Nisbah, and Laqab….    17
Necessity of Arabic Names for Muslims ……………………………………                        25
Arrangement of Muslim Names _…………………………………………..
A Father’s responsibility in giving Good Names to his Children.             28
T imes of Naming ……………………………………………………………                                    30
Prophet Muhammad’s  liking for Good Names and dislike of bad names.      34
List of Names changed by Prophet Muhammad’s ………………….                     40
Influence of Good or Bad Names …………………………………………...                          47
The Best Names ……………………………………………………………                                      56
The Worst Names …………………………………………………………...                                   59
Ruling concerning naming after the Kunyah of Prophet Muhammad            71
More than one Name ………………………………………………………                                    76
Superstition in Nomenclature ………………………………………………                             79
A survey of Muslim Nomenclature with special reference to
The Indo-Pak Sub-continent and The Muslim Ummah in general…………              88

                              PART TWO
                          GLOSSARY OF NAMES

The Excellent Names of Allah (Al-Asmâul Husn â)……………………………                  98
Names of the Prophet ……………………………………………………..                             105
Names and attributes of the Messenger of Allah  ………………………………            108
Names of the Wives of the Messenger of Allah  and his Descendants ……    111
Names of the Sahabah / Male companions of Messenger of Allah            113
Names of the Sahabiat / Female Companions of the Messenger of Allah     126
List of Names of according to the Arabic Alphabetic order ……………….          129
Bear in mind ………………………………………………………………………………                                228


،                             ،            ،           ،         ،       ‫א‬
           ،                      ،                ‫א‬         ،
                .             ‫א‬                ،                     ‫א‬
    After I was admitted into the Aligarh M uslim University, the Dean paid
a visit to our hostel to meet the freshers. Upon entering my room he asked
me in chaste Urdu: "What is your sweet name?" I replied: "Khairul
Bashar".         "Wah, Wah! It’s a very good name, brother!” exclaimed the
Dean in commendation of my name. Thereafter, as long as I remained in
Aligarh, the name Khairul Bashar was uttered with zest by Urdu-speaking
friends and acquaintances be it in the department, in the offices or in other
circles. Bengali M uslims used to call me simply Bashar, while my Hindu
classmates used to refer to me as Khairul. No reaction was noticed among
the Bengalis against this name, as few Bengalis know the meaning of the
words Khairul Bashar. The meaning of Khairul Bashar was known to all in
Urdu-speaking circles, so they used to appreciate it very much. In Aligarh,
Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Hydrabad, indeed in all Urdu-speaking areas that
I had the occasion to visit, my name appeared excellent to all. No trouble
arose over it during my stay in India. I was rather happy with my name. It
was given me by my paternal grandfather; who was an ‘Âlem (Islamic
scholar) and my maternal grandfather who was also an ‘Alem liked this
unusual name. I had the opportunity to enjoy the company of ‘Ulâmâ, but
none of them made any adverse comment to my name. M y father always
used to address me as Bashîr in his letters from Saudi ‘Arabia. Once he
advised us to use the name Bashîr, while conveying the meaning of names
like Bashar, Bashîr, Mubashsher, Bishr, Beshâra etc. M y grandfather was
still alive at the time but he did not attach any importance to this matter. I
was a young boy at that time and did not realize the real significance of my

father’s suggestion. What trouble this non-compliance caused me will be
dealt with later on.
M y name was entered into the school register as Muhammad Khairul
Bashar Shaikh. It was the day of smart tight-fitting dress and all that went
with it. Following the drift I pruned away Muhammad and Shaikh and
retained only Khairul Bashar prompted by an eccentric desire to prove
myself smart. I deem it necessary to narrate in brief the troubles I brought
upon myself in later life due to this thoughtless eccentricity of adolescence.

We came to M akkah Al-M ukarramah before Hajj in 1978 and
performed      Hajj in the warm hospitality of Shaikh Abdul Azîz bin
‘Abdullah bin Bâz, an eminent Islamic scholar of Saudi ‘Arabia. During the
Ayyâm At-Tashrîk (11th to 13th Dhul Hajja) in M îna, my father introduced
me to the venerated Shaikh during an hour of close intimacy. When he
asked me what my name was, I replied: Khairul Bashar. He was startled on
hearing my name, his countenance turned red in disgust and anger. However,
overcoming his anger he said to my father in a tone of admonition: How is it
that you have given such a name to your son, being yourself an ‘Âlem?
What have I taught you then all these years! Anticipating such an adverse
reaction my father had kept ready a face-saver and said in reply that this
name had been given by his father and not by himself and at that time he
was not yet an ‘Âlem, but this name caused the valuable company of the
Shaikh rather to be short-lived.

Upon my subsequent inquiry about the displeasure and anger of Shaikh bin
Bâz I came to know from my father that the meaning of the words Khairul
Bashar is ‘the best human being’. This is a special attribute of Prophet
M uhammad  and can apply only to him . It is not permissible for
anybody else to take such a name. When we went to see the Shaikh after
the Hajj he advised me to accept the name ‘‘Abdullah or ‘‘Abdur Rahman
instead of Khairul Bashar. But alas! M any were the obstacles that stood in
the way. M y certificates, passport, Iqamah everything was in that name,
and it was not easy for me to effect a change in those documents. In spite of
that I went to the Indian Embassy in Jeddah to make the necessary inquiries
in this regard. The official formalities that they spoke of were tortuous and

time-consuming. Circumstances thus compelled me to retain that
objectionable name on paper, although I came to be known as Bashîr in all
non-official circles.

After some time, I was admitted to the ‘Arabic Language Center in the
Umm Al-Qurâ University at M akkah, but troubles arose here also. The
teachers exclaimed, “ My son! This name is not a permissible one.” Some
others said bluntly, “This is unlawful, my brother.” “Are you Khairul
Basher, i.e., the best human being? – Some said sarcastically. There were
still others who said with great disgust, “This is prohibited”. M y disgrace
and sense of injury knew no bounds when still others topped the list of
harsh criticism with these words: “He is not Khairul Bashar (the best
human being), he is Ghairul Bashar (non-human being).” M y knowledge
of ‘Arabic was rather meager at that time, but I memorized this sentence to
combat such extremely upsetting situations: Laqad ghayyartu ismi fal an
sirtu Bashîran (I have changed my name, and I am Bashîr now). Later on, I
worked in the Central Library of Umm Al-Qura University, M akkah, but I
faced the same predicament there. The Dean of the Library told me that he
would not call me Khairul Bashar. He used to address me as Khairî Bashîr
instead. I did not tell my colleagues my real name. If some one wanted
Khairul Bashar over the telephone, the receptionist used to reply that there
was no such man bearing that name. I had to face many troubles because of
this name; the greatest of which used to crop up at the time of drawing my
salary. At that time the employees of the University had to assemble in the
Finance Department to receive their salaries. The cashier used to call the
names of all loudly. The announcement of my name used to be followed
invariably by a murmur by the ‘Arabs. They used to make comments either
in disgust or in jest or in a tone of advice. I used to draw my salary last of
all to avoid this embarrassment. Sometimes my salary used to be returned
to the Accounts Department because of my delay in attendance. Insulting
telephone calls used to follow from there, and I had to draw my salary from
Accounts Department alone in a secretive manner. The disgust of the
people at the counter did not escape my notice. But alas! I could hardly tell
them that my name was the root of this problem.

Later on I worked as a teacher at M anarât International School, Jeddah. The
cheque given to me for the first month’s salary bore the name Bashîr bin
Muhammad. The encashment of this cheque might well have put me in
police custody. I had, therefore, to get the name changed after lots of
trouble. The man who wrote the cheque used to know me as Bashîr. The
fault therefore lay not with him but with my name.

I had to face difficulties everywhere in Saudi ‘Arabia. Once I met a manager
of a particular department for an interview. The manager inquired about my
qualifications, experience and other knowledge etc. I saw a ray of hope. But
alas! It was soon extinguished by the storm of admonitions on hearing my
name Khairul Bashar. All my pleadings fell on deaf ears. The possibility of
getting the job was thus spoiled because of my name. I had no other
alternative but to slip out after being heckled all around.

M y story will be left incomplete if I do not relate the following dramatic
anecdote involving my name. I only hope the readers will listen to that sad
experience of my life with a sympathetic mind.

Once while I was sitting in a marriage party with a copy of this book in my
hand one of the guests wanted to have a look at it. He was speaking good
English. So, we went on discussing various subjects. For some reason I had
to show him my identity card. On getting the card in his hand the man lost
his temper, because the author’s name was printed in the book as Bashîr
bin Muhammad H. Kabir, but on the card it was printed as Khairul Bashar
Muhammad Humayun Al-Ma’sum. There was no similarity between the
two names except the only common word Muhammad. So, I must be a liar
who was claiming to have written the book, which was really written by
another person. So my authoring the book and my Saudi nationality were all
fake and false. The explanation for this dual identity on my part had been
all given in the Prologue but he had no patience to look at that. While we
were arguing the man was about to tear my card to pieces, which I wrested
from him after a fight, but the card, had changed into a different shape. In
the meantime people had gathered around us. M y in-laws had also gathered
by my side too. Everybody seemed to have been thunder struck. I wanted

to report the matter to the police but that would be unbecoming for a house
celebrating a marriage. So all relatives requested me to forgive the man and I
was compelled to do so because the man was related to my in-laws and also
he was known to have been a mental case. He had studied for twelve years
in the United States and failing to obtain the desired Ph.D., had returned to
Saudi ‘Arabia empty handed consequently he had some mental problems.
An unbalanced person can do or say anything. So, he can’t be blamed. M y
name was the root of this trouble. If the two names had not been so
different this man would not have behaved in such a way. I was so ashamed
for creating such a scene at the wedding party.

The incident at the wedding party must have been relayed to the ladies at
the home front. I could guess the terrible quarrel that I was going to have.
On my return home I found a sultry and sad atmosphere, which was a
forecast of the impending storm. The storm began after a while; thunders
came in and reached its conclusion with the rainfall of tears. I was like a
criminal whose crime was this objectionable name. Who listens to the
arguments of a criminal! So, I had to take in all this quietly; even that was
not good for an acquittal. The sultry atmosphere was not settling down. No
devoted husband can stay calm and quiet on seeing the sullen face of his
wife. So I promised and swore to her to correct the mistake of my name.
Then I rushed out of the house flapping my slippers nosily as if I was going
to throw my name in the dustbin.

In fact, changing a name is not so easy. One has to work laboriously for
this. On the identity card my name was printed as Khairul Bashar
Muhammad Humayun Kabir Al-Ma’sum. According to the Islamic and
‘Arab custom Khairul Bashar should be my name Muhammad should be
my father’s name and Humayun should be my grandfather’s name. In fact it
was Humayun that was my father’s name and both ‘Muhammad’ and
‘Kabir’ were extras. As a result ‘Abdul Hamîd – my grandfather’s name –
and his father’s name Ibrahim were dropped because of the mistake and
unnecessary addition in my father’s name. According to the practices here
Muhammad Humayun Kabir were considered to be three names, and the
name Al-Ma’sum added to that seemed to be an extra trouble. Ma’sum

means: spotless, innocent; and only the Prophets can be given that title.
No one else should have this name. That also must be changed. So I went to
the Higher council of ‘Ulamâ and took the written Fatwah (verdict) of two
well-known ‘Âlem and went to Sheikh Bin Bâz, the Grand M ufti of Saudi
‘Arabia and sought his advice on this. I presented to the Sheikh the copies
of this book in English, Bengali and Urdu authored by me and discussed the
problem with him. On the basis of that discussion and in the light of the
verdict of the two ‘Âlems and my knowledge on the subject. I decided to
have my name Bashîr bin Muhammad bin Abdul Hamîd Al-Ma’sumi.
Ma’sum was changed to Ma’sumi to make the mistake a minor, so that the
defect would be lighter. Since that was the name of my great grandfather and
I would not be held guilty in any way. Such a thing happened in case of
many companions of the Prophet  e.g. ‘Amr ibn Al-‘Âas. ‘Âas is an
undesirable name. The M essenger of Allah  changed ‘Âas which was
the name of many of his companions and gave the good names instead. The
father of ‘Amr, famous companion of the Prophet was not alive at that
time and so his father’s name (Al-‘Âas) could not be changed.
However, an application seeking approval for changing my name was
submitted to the Saudi government. After that began the romping from
M akkah to Riyadh and from one office to another. Then came the
advertisement in a newspaper for publicity, police report, examining the
fingerprints, verification of all paper’s and such other formalities. Then
began the dilly-dallying – come tomorrow and then the day after. For all
this I had to spend a lot of money and a lot of time was wasted. I had to
suffer physical and mental stress, however finally all tension was released.

Although, my previous name Khairul Bashar was changed into Bashir, but
other names remained unchanged. I took this matter to the concerning
authority and asked them about omitting Humayun and Kabir and adding
‘Abdul Hamid and Al-M a’sumi instead. I was informed that the changing or
alteration of the last of part of my name does not come under my
jurisdiction. It is my father who can shorten his name omitting Humayun
Kabir. If he did so, the name ‘‘Abdul Hamid bin Ibrahim will be added
automatically. So, my father should apply for changing his name. If it is
approved then the disorder of our names will be rectified. I brought this

matter to my father’s attention and urged him to omit Humayun and Kabir
so that my grandfathers’ name could be added. He was so fascinated with
the name Humayun that he became adamant about changing it and did not
show any interest to add his father’s name to his name. I suggested to him
again and again but all my pleadings fell on deaf ears. I also predicted that
we were going to face problems in the future if these names were not

After some time, it happened as I predicted. One day, Police from the
Immigration Office 'arrested' one of my cousins, from my father’s office due
to a misunderstanding of our names and detained him in Police custody for
24 hours and fined him 2000 Saudi Riyals. At that time, I was out of
M akkah; so my father had to go there any pay this fine. The incident was
as such: In Saudi ‘Arabia Al-Ism Ar-Rubayi - four/categories of names i.e.
1 – Name; 2 - Father’s name; 3 - Grandfather’s name and 4 - Family name,
must be mentioned in all official papers. When I applied for Iqamah of my
cousin, I wrote our grandfather’s name ‘‘Abdul Hamid with his name and
that of myself. On the Iqamah both names of the sponsor and the
sponsored must be mentioned. M y father’s name M uhammad Humayun
Kabir is a compound name as in Indo-Iranian practice. Due to his long name
‘‘Abdul Hamid bin Ibrahim has been omitted. So, I wrote my third name of
Al-Ism Ar-Rubuyi, the real name of my grandfather at that time. According
to my identity card Humayun becomes my grandfather’s name and Kabir
my grand grandfather’s name. So, how can I write my grandfather’s name as
Humayun when in reality it is my father’s name? When the Police enquired
from my cousin about his Iqamah and what he was doing in my father’s
office; he told them that it was his sponsor’s father’s office and that he
lived adjacent to this building. He showed them his Iqamah and father’s
identity card. They found dissimilarities in our names. M y name was
written on his Iqamah as: Bashir M uhammad ‘Abdul Hamid Al-M a'sum,
and that of my father: M uhammad Humayun Kabir Al-M a’sum. This
shows that Bashir is the son of M uhammad – son of ‘Abdul Hamid of Al-
M a’sum clan and M uhammad is the son of Humayun - son of Kabir of Al-
M a’sumi clan. Therefore, M uhammad is two persons of the same family.
This made them suspicious. The Saudi Immigration Police are so over-

burdened with immigrant problems that they generally do not scrutinize
many things. They pay little attention to these matters. It is due to their
ineptness, ignorance or arrogance. After this incident, I had to keep the third
name of Al-Ism Ar-Rubayi blank. M any times, it created problems and I
have to answer to concerning authorities for not mentioning my third name.
If I write the fact, I have to pay for this, if I write according to my identity
card that is wrong but right legally. What a pitiable situation it is!

If the writer of the book - A GUIDE TO ISLAIMC NAMES himself can
not correct his own name then how can his suggestions for names
be effective on others!

I suggested to my father many times to get his name rectified but he paid
little heed to my words. However, after some time, he authorized me to get
his official work done. When he gave me his renewed identity card, I found
that his name was written as: M uhammad bin Humayun bin Kabir              Al-
M a’sum; the bin i.e. son of was not written before. At the last renewal it
has been written in that way. Now it shows that his name is M uhammad
and Humayun is his father’s and name and Kabir- his grandfather’s name. It
goes against the reality. After the renewal of his card he did not notice this
discrepancy. I brought this matter to his notice. Now, he has acknowledged
this fact and has agreed to change his name but tried to authorize me in this
regard. I told him that as far as the changing of his name is concerned, the
Office would accept no authorization from me. Upon my insistence, he at
last agreed to go to the concerning office for changing his names. When he
approached the concerning officer, he was asked sarcastically: “What crime
have you committed in this old age that you want to get your names
changed?” When it was related to him the problems we were facing with
these names, he replied more bitterly: “Why did you keep quiet for such a
long time?” At last, he advised us to go the Head-Office at Riyadh. M y
father was not in a position and mood to go to Riyadh for changing his
name. I have tried my best to get my names changed according to the
principle of Shari’ah, but I succeeded partially. I only succeeded in changing
my name Khairul Bashar to Bashir. As far as my father’s name, I could do
nothing if he does not change his name himself. I don’t know how long he

will be indifferent to changing his name and how long we have to bear these
invalid names.

M y grandfather made a mistake in naming me and it was I who had to pay
for that. It is like one doth the scath and another hath the scorn. I could
accept all this considering his contributions to my life, but is it possible to
accept the mistakes made by an ‘Âlem that he was! Coming to think of this
comprehensively, I discovered this malaise is found in the house of the
most ‘Âlems in the Indo-Pak sub-continent. When I was in India nobody
objected to this name. On my first arrival in Saudi ‘Arabia, I realized that
this name was not right. I have heard objections and antipathy to these
words as a name from the learned men to the ignorant ones, even from
ordinary Saudis or other ‘Arabs. I don’t think it is without any justification
that the ‘Arabs are given preference over the non –'Arabs.

There are many foreigners in the ‘Arab World with objectionable names like
mine, I don’t know whether they had to face troubles. I have heard lot of
criticism in Saudi ‘Arabia over the names of Indian and other non-’Arab
M uslims; although the ‘Arabs themselves are not always hundred percent
correct in the matter of naming. The difference is that the mistake is due to
indifference in the case of the ‘Arabs, while it is due to ignorance of the
‘Arabic language in the case of the non-'Arab. People from different corners
of the world have thronged here in search of a livelihood, driven by the
attraction of ‘liquid gold’. There has been wide scope and plenty of
occasions for contact between ‘Arabs and non-’Arabs. This long co-
existence has enabled the non-’Arab to realize what great mistakes they
commit in matter of naming. This realization prompted me to write this
book on Islamic nomenclature particularly because prevalent names of the
M uslims smack of Shirk (polytheism), Bid‘a (innovations in Islamic
religion), and meaningless, impermissible, inauspicious and super-
hyperbolic appellation. The ‘Ulâmâ (Islamic scholars) who are considered
to be Nâeb An-Nabî / Inheritors of the Prophet are indifferent to this
subject. What is more, even the names of some of the ‘Ulâmâ in Indo-Pak
subcontinent are objectionable. I have hardly come across any discussion on
the Shari'ah guidelines regarding nomenclature, the importance and the

meaning of names, and what names are good or bad and so on. No book has
been written in the Indian languages about Islamic nomenclature. In the
Urdu language a few books have been written on this subject, but all these
happen to be inadequate. In English we find some books, but the writers or
compilers of these books have given only a list of names; and some of the
listed names are objectionable in the light of Shari'ah. So, I cherished a
strong desire to write a book on Islamic nomenclature from that very day
when I was humiliated by Shaikh bin Bâz. When I expressed the desire to
an acquaintance of mine he bluntly remarked that a haberdasher should not
venture into the shipping business. I had little knowledge of the ‘Arabic
language at that time and had therefore to swallow the bitter comment. I
remained firm in my determination to undertake such a task on some future
occasion. After gaining some experience in ‘Arabic I addressed myself to the
collection of materials from different sources.

On the eve of writing this book I have had close discussions in M akkah Al-
M ukarramah and elsewhere on Islamic nomenclature. M any people listened
with great interest. Some of enthusiastic people sought my advice
concerning names for their children, while those with objectionable names,
either their own or their children's have promised to change them. Some of
them started renaming themselves and their children in accordance with
Islamic principles. Some of my close acquaintances have come to my
residence, selected names for their children or relatives from my manuscript
and conveyed these to the persons concerned in their countries. All these
have assured me of the usefulness of this book, giving me great
encouragement, and I have received frequent reminders to publish it at the
earliest opportunity.

However on some other occasions, the contrary proved to be the case.
People with objectionable names sometimes entered into unreasonable
arguments over their names. Even the clear, documentary evidences from
the Qura'n and Hadith could not dispel the accumulated darkness from their
minds, steeped in ignorance and false notions. Reason and evidence can
hardly free a mind fettered by prejudice. How many people have the
mentality to accept the hard and unpleasant truth?

In words of S pinoza: “The truth is cruel, but it can be loved and it
makes free those who love it.”

According to an ‘Arabic proverb:             ‫א‬         ‫א‬
           Truth brings salvation; untruth leads to disaster.

Truth is always hard, stark and bitter, but eternal and abiding. Prophet
M uhammad bin ‘Abdullah  said: (( ‫א‬                          ))
                     Speak the truth although it is bitter.

According to some schools of medicine bitter things aid digestion, and it is
hoped that the bitter words contained in this book will help to cure the
endemic indigestion in the Indo-Pak sub-continent and the M uslim World
over nomenclature.     ‫א‬

These are some of the predicaments of my name. I am afraid this story has
run to quite a length, however before concluding, I would like to present to
the readers a Misk (nectar). After reading the tragedy of my name, some
became sad, sorrowful and depressed. The female readers’ eyes were filled
with tears. So, I would like to tender a solace to their touching hearts. I
would like to say to them that my objectionable name has ushered in
blessings in my life. It is for this reason; I was compelled to write this book
in the middle of the 80th. When it was published, I took some copies to
London and sold them to the Central M osque of Regent Park, London and
other Islamic Book stores; from there and from the KSA this book has
reached to different parts of the world. This book has been so appreciated
by the readers that many letters, faxes and e-mails have been sent to me
regarding this book. Due to this book, I became acquainted with many
outstanding M uslim personalities; one of them was Dr. M uhammad Abduh
Yamani, former M inister in the Saudi Government and now President of
Iqraa Charitable Society, Jeddah. This book moved him so deeply that he
authorized me to write a series on Islamic Education. When the series was

ready, it was so desirable that Iqraa Charitable Society spent a considerable
amount of money to publish this series. As soon as it was published, many
International Schools of Saudi ‘Arabia accepted this series as a textbook for
their schools. Within a short span of time many M uslim schools and
institutions included this series in their curriculum. The M inistry of
Education of Saudi ‘Arabia also appreciated this series so much so, that
they directed all International Schools in Saudi ‘Arabia to accept this series
as a textbook. Walillahil Hamd wa Ashshukr.

M y grandfather committed a mistake in naming me and as a result I had to
encounter many problems. The objectionable name was my main incentive
to write a book on Islamic nomenclature. What we think as bad may bring
good for us. Allah says in the Qur’an:
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"And perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and
perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah
knows, while you know not." (Al-Baqarah, 216).

Now, before ending I should thank Allah, the Almighty, Who has bestowed
His favor on me to write this book. I also owe a debt of gratitude to my
friends and colleagues at the Central Library of Umm Al-Qura University in
M akkah, both ‘Arab and non-’Arab who have extended valuable assistance
in writing this book. I am also thankful to Shaikh Uzair, a research fellow
of that Universiy for his constructive criticism, scholarly and realistic
suggestions, although we differed on occasions. Thanks are due to Shaikh
M uhammad Jamil Zeenu, an outstanding writer on Islamic subjects for his
valuable suggestions. I also thank to Shaikh ‘Abdullah ‘Ullus, an ‘Alem of
Damascus and Shaikh Abu M uhammad Alimuddin of Bangladesh for the
revision of the ‘Arabic text. I must also put on record my special debt to
M uhammad (Ruhul) Amin of Bangladesh, a noted Islamic thinker and writer
for his keen interest in editing the manuscript of this book. I also thank
Professor Abu M usa of Umm Al-Qura University and Umm M uhammad

of Jeddah for their valuable suggestions and corrections. Brother Daud
Abdul M ajid, a reverted M uslim from England, has made the final editing
and endured painstaking labor to check all text and arranged it
conventionally to give the book an aesthetic appearance. Jazaka Allahu
Khairan. Then I thank my parents whose financial support went into
publishing the first edition in different languages. M ay Allah grant them
long lives. I also pray to Allah for those of my colleagues, classmates,
different learned men and others from whom I have received cooperation.
M ay Allah reward them with the best.

At the end, I would like to say that my work would be successful if the
readers of this book become aware of Islamic nomenclature and practice it
into their lives in naming their children properly.

                    .         ‫א א‬                 ‫א‬        ‫א‬      ‫א‬
     ‘Allah is the best Motivator and Guide…

     Bashîr Muhammad Al-Ma’sumi
     Makkah Al-Mukarramah
     Al -‘Awali (west)
     Al-Fariq Street, House No. 3
     P. O. Box 1344
     Saudi ‘Arabia
     Tel: 5274179, 5375362, Mobile 054507551

Grief and gladness remains not; but the recompense of virtuous deeds and
memorials of good name - they remain. (Sheikh Sa’di of Bustan)

                    NAMES IN GENERAL

Names owe their origin to the necessity    of identification; names have been
given to all created beings for this purpose, from the Holy Qur’an we know
that Allah taught Adam the names of all things.

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            “And He taught Adam all names.” (Al-Baqarah, 36)
Every name conveys a special meaning and carries a clue to the
distinguishing features of the named. Allah has named man Adam and
Insan, both of which are in consonance with the distinctive characteristic of
human beings.

Identification is, however, not the only purpose of naming, had it been so,
mere numbers would have sufficed in place of names. A house or an office
can be located by its number. The postman can easily deliver a letter to its
recipient by reading an address consisting mainly of a number. Even so, the
owner of a house gives his newly built abode such significant and salutary
names as Shantikuthir (abode of peace), SnehaChhaya (shelter of affection),
Ashirbad (blessing) and so on. Even more imaginative names like
‘Malancha’, ‘Mitali’, and ‘Balaka’ are given to houses. These are not
merely names but embellishments as well.

If there had been no other purpose besides identification in regard to naming
then mere numbers would have served the purpose just as well. Parents
would not have to worry so much about selecting names for their children
or seeking the assistance of the ‘Ulama for this purpose.

Naming in literature is more important than it is in life. Literature is born of
the tender attributes and the fine sensibilities of the human mind and it
grows around them. Its charm is indescribable; that charm does not exist in
the pages of book but rather it extends by way of deep feelings into the
heart of the readers. We do not keep the heroes and the heroines of novels

confined within the boundaries of the authors writing, we paint them with
the colors of our own imagination and it is the name that helps us in that
painting. It is no wonder that writers and poets take special care in naming
their characters of their heroes and heroines in their writings.

Carlyle was right in saying: “Giving a name, indeed, is a poetic art;
all poetry if we go to that with it, is but a giving of names.”

M an tries to give an extra-ordinary touch even to common inanimate objects
by giving them highly imaginative and sweet-sounding names. The word
Train speaks for itself. It is merely materialistic. But when a train is given a
name then it assumes an aura of distinctness peculiar to it alone. Even so,
that name is only a way of identification. There is little difference between
20-Up and 137-up in respect to speed and destination, but a special name
contains something that goes beyond name. Such names reach out to the
world of ideas beyond the frontier of the material. They give the train not
only identity but also a personality.

Personification of material objects is an expression of the creative mind of
man. M angos are sold in crates in mango growing areas merely as
marketable commodities. There are many sweet and imaginary names of
mangoes which convey idealistic connotations of sweet, regal association.
Names like Jannatul Ferdous, Hasnahana, Evening in Paris, Lavender
Dew, given to Itar (scents) and perfumes cast a magic spell.

Shakespeare said that the rose looks beautiful whatever name is given to it.
He did not perhaps have the opportunity to know that a thousand names
have been given to the rose by the lovers of this flower. The beauty of the
rose as an inanimate object is confined to some sensible properties, which
may not need spectacular names, but names like Piccadilly, Montezuma, and
Flaming Sunset - contain super sensuous connotations which invest the
rose with a serene sublimity which is far above its sensible beauty or
fragrance. Behind these names there is not the hand of the botanist but the
finer feelings of the poetic mind that take the physical beauty and charm of
the rose into the realm of the ethereal and heavenly.

Unlike material objects the characteristics of a person are not confined to a
bundle of sensible properties. M any are the facets of this identity. They
stand for different things in different fields and circles. A person may be
found shopping in the morning, teaching at noon and shouting from the
gallery of a stadium in the afternoon. He may be a dreaded boss in the office
but submissive husband to an over bearing wife at home. When, however, it
comes to the question of social relations, the name is determined by social
customs. We address different persons by different appellations according
to our relation to them. Such appellations vary from community to
community and from language to language; but these are in vogue from time
immemorial. These are indeed forms of address, not names proper.

However valuable the name of a person may be for official identification
and transaction of mundane business, this does not exhaust all the shades
and traits of a personality. A particular name may fail to give expression to
the personality of a man beyond his biological identity. Little beyond
pungency, sharpness and tune can be expected from the chili, a sword and a
flute. But many are the facts and special qualities of human beings like
appearance, merit, courage, love, poise, patience and fortitude. The
personality of a man ranges across the entire spectrum of his material
conditions and spiritual yearnings. A single epithet cannot adequately
convey all the shades and nuance of personality. A single person has often
had many attributive names and epithets in the history. Prophet
M uhammad () had many attributive names like M ustafa, Bashir, Nazir,
Rasulullah and so on. Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim) was Khalilullah (friend of
Allah), M oses (M usa) was Kalimullah (who converses with Allah), and
Jesus (I’sa) was Ruhullah (soul of Allah). Abû Bakr became As-Siddîq
(strictly veracious); Umar bin Al-Khattab became Farûq (he who
distinguishes truth from falsehood). Yusuf Al-Ayyubi is known as
Salahuddin (reformer of the religion). The famous Ibn Taymiyyah is known
as Shaikhul Islam (spiritual head of Islam). These are not proper names
given by their parents, but attributive epithets and appellations that their
glorious career earned them. M any names in the world are thus earned.

A man’s name bears his religious identity. We may not know anything
about M uhammad, ‘Abdullah but at least we know that he is not a non-
M uslim. In many cases the title of a man tells us about his occupation. We
may have difference of opinion about the knowledge of a M oulavi or
M oulana or about the honesty of a so-called Pîr Sahib (a religious leader)
but we have no doubt about what they do for a living. They must have
some other names like ‘Abdullah or ‘Abdur Rahman which can only be
found out from a voter-list. The names of Hafezzi Hujur, Judge Sahib,
Professor Sahib, Doctor Babu or M anager Babu remain concealed under the
position they hold and there remains no distinction between their positions
and titles. So names may have their origin in the occupations of people too.

Naming is a testimony to the thoughts and beliefs of man. Has anyone
heard the Shi’ah (Shiite) giving their children names like: Abû Bakr, ‘Umar,
‘Uthman, M u'awiyah, Yazid, ‘Āyeshah, Hafsa, etc. When a M adrasa
(Islamic School in the Indo-Pak sub-continent) is set up by the Sunni, a
name is added to it like Darul ‘Ulum by a group, and Darul Hadith or
Salafiah by another group. Giving such names shows the difference of
vision and attitude of the two groups although they are not different

A name is such a common thing, like air and water that we do not bother
about its significance. A name is necessary for the transaction of worldly
business, from the office attendance register to the ration card, voter list and
title deeds of property. A person without a citizenship is not inconceivable
now a days, but a person without a name finds himself nowhere in the
world. A name is also required after death; on the day of Resurrection
everyone will be summoned by his or her names.

Only a few inherit material fortune at birth, but all children receive a name
after coming into the world. Needless to say, a child has no part to play in
the selection of its name. M aterial affluence may enable one to have
beautiful clothes, valuable ornaments or cars of the latest model and even a
spouse to one’s liking; but we have no choice in the matter of names given
by the family. All of us are dependent on our parents in this respect. But

names can undergo changes, corrections and refinement like later editions of
a book. Prophet M uhammad  changed the names of many of his
companions/Sahabah. In keeping with that Sunnah (my humble self),
Khairul Bashar became Bashir.

Generally people take little responsibility over naming. Parents have to face
criticism for the faults, lapses and misdemeanor of their children, but none
of the kind for the names given to them. Of course, sometimes people are
heard telling a person: ‘Your parents have given you an appropriate name
indeed!’ – But such remarks are made sarcastically. In fact, few people can
live up to their names. For this reason parents are rarely blamed if
‘Abdullah (servant of Allah) becomes grave-worshipper, Saleh (virtuous)
commits murder, Sadeq (truthful) bears false witness or ‘Âdel (just) is
found guilty of injustice or felony. Parents are naturally affectionate, but it
would be naive to expect them to be seers of the future. A devout M uslim
performs Istakhara (asking Allah for proper guiding), but parents as careful
and chary as this in choosing the names of their children are rarely to be

Early people bestowed a name with definite consciousness of its meaning.
In the Bible, a widow exclaimed:

     “Call me not Nomai (Pleasant), call me Mara (Bitter): for the
Almighty hath dealt very b itterly with me.” (Ruth 1:20)

Today, people give little thought to meanings. A one-eyed son is
sometimes named Padmalochana (the lotus-eyed), as is evident from an
oft-quoted Bengali proverb. An ugly-looking son is sometimes named
Hasanuzzaman (beautiful of the age) or Jamîl (handsome), a dark-
complexioned daughter is named Gouri (fair-complexioned). One comes
across such misleading names everywhere in the world.

Now-a-days people have a tendency of giving a name that no one else has;
not at least in the locality or in word – it will not be encountered anywhere.
In this very way the desire and dreams of the self-conceited and

competitive middle class people to be unique is encouraging them to indulge
in giving peculiar, strange and difficult names. Sometimes the extension of
this tendency leads to meaninglessness. A daughter is named Aniketa
(homeless), Czarina, Rubina or Rosina on the plea that it sounds good and
no one is named like that anywhere. Parents in this way try to triumph over
their neighbors or their known circle but they never think what the meaning
of the name is or whether such a name would be desirable for their daughter.
With this purpose in mind someone has been named Niva (extinguish),
which has no meaning or a ridiculous name like Qamrunnahar (the moon of
the day). A girl may have a name like Shelley or Mummy, which is sad, but
pleasing to the ear. Names like these may be pleasing to the ear but they are
not acceptable.

It is possible to avoid indecorous situations by following Islamic principles
in naming. It is futile to have fad names like Shah Alam (King of the
universe), Jahangir (conqueror of the world), and Shah Jahan (emperor of
the world) and so on when kingship withers away nowadays. Does it not
sound fanciful to give names like Almas (diamond); M arjan (pearl) when
even gold is beyond the reach of most people? Affection is admittedly blind
and imagination knows no bounds, but these should not be totally devoid of
a sense of proportion.

Fantastic, impermissible names that smack of Shirk (polytheism) are
associated with over-adulation are found in plenty everywhere in the
M uslim world, particularly the non-‘Arab M uslim countries due to
ignorance of the ‘Arabic language. Unpleasant and ludicrous situations can
be avoided if one takes care to select suitable names for children after
consulting the ‘Ulama or authentic books on Islamic nomenclature like this
present work.

"A name ‘fast anchored in the deep abyss of time’ is like a star twinkling in the firmament
cold, distant, silent, but eternal and sublime." William Hazlitt.

                        NAMES IN ISLAM

Some   people ignore the importance of a name. They quote from
Shakespeare in support of their contention:

                What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
                By any other name would smell as sweet.

“Juliet’s beautiful speech, which in context is a passionate plea for what is
known to be a lost cause, is often misinterpreted. Juliet does not believe
what she says even as she says it, and Shakespeare certainly did not believe
it. He gives quite a different answer to his own question many times in his
plays and poems. With his usual genius, however, he makes Juliet ask
herself a timeless question, to which there is an infinity of answers. The
innumerable sub-editors who have echoed the question at the head of a
thousand columns simply acknowledge the fact.” We must also
acknowledge it, and attempt to find some answers.

To the M uslims a name is a very important thing. Every M uslim has to
remember the name of Allah before beginning anything, saying:

                         ÉΟŠÏm§9$# Ç⎯≈uΗ÷q§9$# «!$# ÉΟó¡Î0

       In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

We have to say immediately after Tahrimah:

                    .                                   ‫א‬           ‫א‬

O Allah, Glory to You! With Your praise and holiness, hallowed be
Your name, Your Name is most blessed. There is no god except You.

The name of Allah is so full of grace that one can be free from mishaps by
repeating this prayer in morning and the evening:

  .     ‫א‬      ‫א‬         ‫א‬                             ‫א‬                   ‫א‬                   ‫א א‬

In the name of Allah (we begin), nothing can harm in the earth
and the sky for the grace of His name and He is the Hearer and the

Not only that, when an animal is slaughtered with these words:

                                         ‫א‬         ‫א ،א‬
In the name of Allah, Allah is the Greatest - the meat becomes lawful
for M uslims. If an animal is slaughtered in a name other than Allah it
becomes unlawful for M uslims. It is Shirk (polytheism) to pray or to
invoke in the name of any other deity other than Allah; and it militates
against Islamic Tawhid (monotheism). Allah declares in the Holy Qur’an:

                             ( ١٨٠   ‫א‬       ‫)א‬        〈 ...$pκÍ5 çνθããôŠ$$sù 4©o_ó¡çtù:$# â™!$oÿôœF{$# ¬!uρ ® d

The most beautiful names belong to Allah; so invoke Him by them .
                                                             (Al-A’ raf: 180)

Allah is pleased if He is addressed by those names. Prophet M uhammad
 said in this connection:

‫א א‬                ‫א‬                              ))                ‫א‬              

                                                                               ((       ‫א‬

Abu Hurairah  narrated: The Messenger of Allah  said: Verily, there
are ninety-nine names of Allah; One hundred except one and who recites
them shall enter into Jannah (heaven).1

Names are so important that Allah taught Adam () the names of all
things first. The Holy Qur’an testifies:

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And He taught Adam all names, then placed them before the
angels and said: ‘Tell me the names of these, if you are truthful.
‘They said: ‘Glory be to You; we have no knowledge, save what you
have taught us: Verily it is You who are perfect in knowledge and
wisdom. ’ He said: ‘O Adam! Tell them their names.’ When he
had told them their names. Allah said: ‘Did I not tell you that I know
the secret of the heavens and the earth, and I know what you reveal
and what you conceal? (Al-Baqarah: 32-33)

The superiority of Adam was thus established over the sinless angels by his
telling the names of all things. Allah will assemble all human beings on the
Day of Judgment with distinctive names and identities. Ibn ‘Umar 
           ‫א‬                        ‫א‬              ‫א א‬                 ‫)) א‬                    ‫א‬                                             ‫א‬
                            ((                                                          ،              ‫א‬          ‫א‬                      [ ‫]א‬
The M essenger of Allah  said: ‘When Allah brings together the first
and the last (groups of people) on the Day of Judgment, a flag will be raised

    Bukhari, no: 2736, 6410, 7392; Muslim, no: 2677; Ahmad (Musnad), no: 2/267;
    At-Tirmidhi, no: 3507 &Ibn Majah no: 3860.

(by Allah) for each for the persons guilty of breach of trust on that day, and
then it will be said: ‘This is the perfidy of so and so, son of so and so.2

The Prophet  further said:
                          ‫א‬                  )) )       ‫א‬                 ‫א‬   ‫א‬

                                                               ((        ‫א‬
Abu Ad-Dardaa  narrated: The Messenger of Allah  said: On the
Day of Judgment, you will be called by your names and by your fathers’
names; therefore, keep you good names.3

It is evident from the above quoted texts of the Qur’an and the Hadith that
names are very significant both in this world and the hereafter, but it is an
unpleasant truth that M uslims attach little importance to names and naming
nowadays. A name is not only a means of identification of a person but also
bears testimony to his mentality and philosophy of life. Whenever a person
came to the Prophet , he invariably used to ask his name. He used to be
pleased if the name was to his liking and changed it, if it was not. This
subject will be dealt with in greater detail in the next chapter.

    Bukhari, (Adab) no: 6177, 6178; (Jazia & Muad’ia) no: 3188 and other places; Muslim
    (Jihad) no: 1735; Ahmad (Musnad): 1/441, 417; &Ibn Majah (Jihad) no: 2872.
    Abu Daud (Adab) no: 4948; Ahmad (Musnad): 5/194; Daremy (Estadhan) no: 2697; &
     Ibn Hibban (Mua’ rad) no: 1944.


Ibn Qayyem al Jauziah said in his famous book Tuhfatul Maudud fi
Ahkamil Maulud: “A person’s behavior, character and conduct follow a
pattern in consonance with his name. The Prophet  was called
M uhammad (praised, commendable) and Ahmad (more laudable, more
commendable). In fact, he was the most praised person for his character;
the best in praising of Allah, and his followers had the best quality in
praising their Lord. He has, therefore, stressed the need for keeping good
names as a person bearing a good name refrains from evil deeds due to his
sense of shame, and is prompted to act in accordance with the meaning of
his name. The people of upper classes of the society are found to have good
and excellent names while those of the lower strata have evil and bad
names consistent with their standard of life and status.”

Stren Tristram, a modern English novelist rightly said: “There is a strange
kind of magic bias which good or bad names irresistibly impress upon our
character and conduct.” The M essenger of Allah  was aware by virtue
of his deep wisdom that a name can exert influences upon a man’s
character. He, therefore, used to change the name of a person bearing a bad
name as soon as he came in contact with him and give him a good name.
The following Hadith testifies to the influence of a bad or evil name upon a
(( ‫؟‬       ‫א‬    ))                 ‫א‬                             ‫א א‬           ‫א‬
               ‫א א‬      ،                 ‫א‬         :      ((       ))    ،       :
                                                                .             ‫א‬       ‫א‬
Sa’id ibn Musayyeb narrated through the chain of authority of his father
and grandfather. He (grandfather of the narrator) said: Once I went to the
Prophet  He asked me: What is your name? I replied: Hazn (hard or
rough ground). He said: You are Sahal (soft ground). He said: ‘I will not
change the name given to me by my father.’ Ibn Musayyeb (grandson of the
man) said: ‘Hardness persisted in the character of the people of our clan
since that time.’

     Bukhari (Adab) no: 6190, 6193; Abu Daud (Abad) no: 4956

The pitiable consequence of evil and inauspicious names has been
mentioned in the M uwatta of Imam M alek:
     ‫)א‬          Ô           (‫؟‬       ‫) א‬                            ‫א‬
:         (‫؟‬             )        Ô       ‫א‬       :           (‫؟‬    )       Ô            ‫:א‬     (‫؟‬
            (‫א‬       ‫א‬                )       :       .            ‫: א‬          (‫؟‬   )        . ‫א‬
                                                          .             ‫א‬            ‫א‬
               ‫א א‬

“Yahya bin Sa’id narrated: ‘Umar ibnul Khattab  asked a man: ‘What
is your name?’ He replied: Jamrah (firebrand). He again asked: ‘Whose
son are you?’ He replied: Ibn S hihab (son of flame, blaze). He asked
again: To which clan (do you belong)?’ He replied: Minal Hurqah (from
burning). He asked further: ‘Where is your abode (home)?’ He replied: Bi
Harrathin Nar (in extreme heat of fire). He asked finally: ‘Which part of
this?’ He replied: Bi Dhatel Laza (the flaming part). ‘Umar said: ‘Go and
see that your people have been burnt to ashes. It was as ‘Umar  said.
The narrator said that he really found them burned to ashes on his return.”

‘Umar ibnul Khattab  realized by his wisdom and foresight that the
burning of this family was inevitable because all of their names bore the
connotations of burning. As the prediction came out from the lips of a
truthful and righteous man like ‘Umar  it became true. The above
episode bears startling testimony to the disastrous consequences of an evil

The bad or inauspicious name of a place may throw its people into dire
distress. Al-Husain  reached a M aidan or field on the bank of the
Euphrates after proceeding towards Kufa from M adinah, and inquired
about the name of the place. He was told that it was Karbala. He said
surprisingly: Karb (grief, distress, torture) and Bala (tribulation, affliction)!
The episode of the great tragedy at Karbala stands out as a pathetic
commentary on the meaning of the name of the place.

     Imam Malek (Muatta) 2/973; Abdur Razzaq (Musannaf) no: 19864

The M essenger of Allah  disliked a person named Wahshi          (means:
wild, savage, brutal, ugly) for his actions which was as evil as his name.
This was the man who succeeded in killing lion-hearted Hamzah  in the
battle of Uhud. After embracing Islam he penitently took the vow of doing
something that would atone for his former misdeed. Allah, the Almighty,
accepted his remorseful prayer. It was this Wahshi who adroitly killed
M usailama, the liar (who claimed false prophet-hood during the life time of
the Prophet) at the battle of Yamama, and commented: “A great M uslim
was killed by me before I embraced Islam; I hereby compensate for it by
killing a notorious enemy of Islam.”

The above episode shows that names of places and persons can have a great
impact on the life of the man. So, it is important to take a great care and
caution in the selection of names. Bad or evil names, which a person has,
have an impact on his or her life. It is, therefore, rightly said that any evil or
bad words uttered by any form may bring difficulties and misfortune to
him. Abu ‘Umar narrated:
−             :      ‫א‬       (                   ‫( )) א‬)     ‫א‬         ()
The Prophet  said: Words coming from one’s mouth are largely
responsible for (one’s) tribulation and affliction. 34
A Hadith testifying to this runs thus: The Prophet  went to see an old
man attacked with fever, and said to him in a soft affectionate tone: In-
Shaa-Allah, you will soon come round. But the old man said: ‘This
disease in my old age will send me to the grave.’ The Prophet   said:
Be it so then.

The Messenger of Allah has enjoined us to keep good-hope, good-intention and
optimism. In line with this Ibn Qayyem Al-Jauziah said: "Nobody k nows what is in
store for him/her. High expectation can, therefore, y ield some benefits." Many
ambitious people have gained something by virtue of their high expectation and hopes. It
is, therefore, important that a name should reflect good intention, hope and optimism. The
meaning of a name should not be bad or inauspicious.
Abu Bakr As-Siddique has warned in his Bayat (a Poem):

     Al-Khatib Baghdadi (Tarikh) 7389, Tuhfatul Mahdud – p. 78
     Bukhari (Al-Manaqeb) no: 3616; (Mardaa) no: 5656, 5662; (Tawhid) no: 7470; Nasa’ey
     (Al-Yam wal Laila) no: 1039. (At-Tarikh) 7/389

                                 ‫א‬                               ‫א‬
“Keep your tongue restrained otherwise evil utterances will make your
misfortune enduring. Surely, utterances of the mouth are responsible for
many afflictions. ”

The author has heard a story from reliable sources illustrating this point.
“No child was born to a certain woman for a long time. However, at last a
son was born to her and she became a widow after that. She, therefore,
loved her only son very much and used to say out of excessive affection: ‘O
my son! When you come of age, you will bring a bride who will quarrel
with me and will turn me out of the house, and so on...’ It happened that her
daughter-in law subsequently turned her out of the house. When people
asked the widow why she once uttered such evil and inauspicious words;
she blamed her misfortune. People remarked: ‘What this foul-mouthed
widow uttered has come to pass.’ Intelligent mothers admonish their
children in good words and never utter evil or inauspicious words and
expressions. Ahadith of the Prophet  also asserts this point
                                 ((                                        ))
Let none of you say: my heart has become ill; one should rather say        I
am not feeling well. 36

It is evident from all these Hadith that the Prophet  has eschewed the
evil and the inauspicious, and has accepted the truth, beauty, and good. He
has urged us to do the same. He has given clear instruction to always
express good intentions.

People used to say meaningful, auspicious farewell-greetings while taking
leave of near and dear ones. As the word ‘Go’ sounds inauspicious so
people say in Bengali: Accha Esho or Ashi (all right, come again or I may
come again); in Hindi the words: Fir Milenge (we will meet again); in
Urdu: Khuda Hafez (Allah is the Protector), Ma’as-Salama (with peace and
security) is used in Arabic. In English: Goodbye an abbreviated form of
‘God be with you’; in French: Au Revoir (see you again); Auf Fider Jen (we
will meet again) is used in German.

Greetings are universally an expression of good will. It seems rather
puzzling why people do not exercise the desire for what is good and

     Bukhari (Adab) no: 6179; Muslim (Alfaz) no: 2251

auspicious when selecting names for their children; why people invite
misfortune by giving them inauspicious or bad names!

     Ibn Qayyem al-Jauziah wrote:
                 ‫א‬                     ‫א‬                                            ‫א‬
      ‫א‬                   ،                    ‫א‬                        ،
 “Allah, the Almighty, through His Wisdom, Justice and Power inspires in
the minds to give names, and this is consistent with His wisdom and or its
meaning as cause is consistent with its effect.”

     lbn Jinni wrote:
                          ،    ‫א‬                        :           ‫א‬       ‫א‬
                                   .                        ‫א‬   ،               ،
 “M any times past, I heard a name but I did not understand its meaning; but
I derived a meaning from the letters and found later that it was identical or
near to the actual meaning.”

When it was mentioned to Shaikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, he commented:
     .‫א‬                   :                ‫א‬        ‫א‬   ‫א‬
“Such as this has happened to me many times.”

It would not be inappropriate to cite some instances directly experienced by
the author. We had a classmate belonging to a rich family, good at studies
and games, a bit philosophical in attitude; but his nickname was Pacha (the
rotten). I used to joke with him over his name and he naturally used to be
annoyed with me. When I returned to my place of birth after a long stay
abroad, I heard the man had been turned out of the locality as people were
very much annoyed with his rash and indiscreet activities. What great
troubles his bad name thus brought to him! (Allah knows best). It is found
that people bearing names, which connote unhappiness or bad omens often,
come to grief. Those having names that connote dullness, uselessness,
fatness etc., have been found to be hardly better than their names.

Good names bring fortune to men. A person having a beautiful name is
found to have a beautiful life. The name of the Prophet  found its
authentication in the unprecedented plenitude of his sacred life. After the
birth of the prophet, his grandfather ‘Abdul M uttaleb brought him to the
Ka’aba. People present there asked about the name of the child. ‘Abdul
M uttaleb said in reply; Muhammad (most praised one). The Quraish
leaders remarked in wonder: We have not heard such a name before; names
are generally given after those of the gods and goddesses.” ‘Abdul
M uttaleb replied: ‘He will be praised and honored by all more than anyone
else.’ The desire of ‘Abdul M uttaleb has been fully vindicated by the fame
and renowned earned by M uhammad . In the eyes of mankind he was
the best of men for all times.

After the birth of M uhammad bin ‘Abdullah a Bedouin woman came
and offered to be his wet-nurse. ‘Abdul M uttaleb asked about her name.
She replied: Halimah. He then inquired about her clan. She replied that she
belonged to the Banu Sa’d clan. ‘Excellent, excellent!’ exclaimed ‘Abdul
M uttaleb in appreciation of the names and said: Halimah (Soft, patient) and
Sa’d (good luck, good fortune), both these names are combined in her; so
there is much good in her”. Therefore, he entrusted Halimah with the
nursing of baby M uhammad.

The Prophet  was compelled to migrate from M akkah to M adinah due
to the oppression of the unbelievers. A bounty of a hundred camels was
offered for the heads of M uhammad and Abu Bakr Siddique. The Prophet
 quite understandably had to go by inaccessible places, deserts and
hills with great caution and circumspection on his journey. Upon reaching a
certain place after encountering various difficulties, the Prophet  halted
to take rest. A man appeared before him at that place. When the Messenger
of Allah asked his name, he replied: Buraidah /           (coldest; cool place).
Then the Prophet  said to Abu Bakr; ‘We have then reached a cool
place and our troubles became cold,’ He again asked him about his family
name. He replied: Banu Aslam / ‫א‬       (safer). He said to Abu Bakr: ‘We
are safe now.’ He further asked about his clan whereupon he replied:
Sahm /     (arrow). The Prophet said to Abu Bakr: ‘Your arrow (of
danger) has passed.”

When the Prophet  reached Hudaibiya on his way to M akkah to
perform ‘Umrah with some of his companions, he sent ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan

(may Allah be pleased with him) to the Quraish to explain the purpose of
their journey, and waited there for his return. When there was an
unconscionable delay in his return everybody thought that the Quraish had
killed him. They, therefore, took a firm pledge (baiyat) to avenge the killing
of ‘Uthman by putting their hands into those of the Prophet  under a
tree. At that crucial moment ‘Uthman arrived back and with him came a
Quraishi leader with a proposal of peace. The name of this man was Suhail
(     ) means - the easiest. The M essenger of Allah  said to Abu Bakr:
Your task has become easy. This was followed by the famous ‘Al-
Hudaibiya Truce’ between the M uslims and the Quraish. The influence of a
name is markedly noticeable here. Although the terms of the truce appeared
unfavorable to the M uslims at first sight, it contained the potential of a
great victory. Allah has described this truce as Fathum M ubin/ Clear

Awana bin Hakam narrated:
 ،                ‫א‬       ‫א‬       ،               ‫א‬       ‫א‬       :       ‫א‬           ‫א‬
         ،            :                       ‫א‬               ،       ‫א‬           ‫א‬
 ،            ‫א‬               :       ‫א‬   ،               ،                       : ‫א‬
                                                      .                       ،
When Ibn Zubair claimed himself to be the Khalifah, ‘Abdullah bin M uti’e
stood up to take the Bayat (pledge, allegiance). ‘Abdullah Bin Zubir
withdrew his hand and asked ‘Ubaidullah bin ‘Ali bin Abi Taleb to pledge
allegiance; but ‘Ubaidullah said: ‘O M usaiyeb! Stand up and pledge
allegiance.’ So, he stood up and pledged              allegiance. The people
commented: “He has refused to accept the Bayat of Ibn M uti’e (obedient,
loyal) and has accepted the Bayat of M usaiyeb (hardship, adversity); he
will, therefore, meet with hardship and difficulty in his affair.”

History bears testimony to the failure of the attempt of Ibn Zubair who was
eventually killed. The influence of the meaning of a name is also noticeable

     Tuhfatul Maulud: p. 79

According to a narration: The M uslims met with failure in an encounter
with the non-believers during the reign of the ‘Abbasids. At that time a
wise man advised the M uslims to change the name of their commander and
to give him a good name. It was done, and the M uslims ultimately emerged
victorious. (Allah knows best).

 Inauspicious place names may also augur ill and may lead to disaster. The
tragedy of Husain (may Allah be pleased with him) at Karbala is known to
all. Salma bin M uhareb says with reference to such an episode:
             ‫א‬                 ‫א‬       ،                      ‫א‬
                     ‫، א‬                   ،             ‫א‬        ‫:א‬          ‫א‬   ،        ‫א‬
Hajjaj bin Yusuf settled with his troops at a place named Dayer Qerra (the
stable place), and Abdur Rahman al-Ashath (commander of Ibn Zubair)
settled his troops at a place named Dayer Jamajam (unstable place). Hajjaj,
therefore, remarked; the situation is under my control while his is
uncertain; by Allah! I will certainly kill him.” The words of Hajjaj came

A good and beautiful name also carries significance in oneirology or the
interpretation of dreams. Abu ‘Umar mentioned in his Estedhkar which is
considered an authority on dream-interpretation:
              ،         ‫א‬                                 ((        ‫)) א‬
         ‫א‬            ،            ‫א‬                     ، ‫א‬                  ‫א‬           ))
                                                    ((                        ،   ‫א‬   ‫א‬

The Prophet  said: I have seen in a dream that we were in the house of
‘Uqba (sequel) bin Raf’e (high) and some Rutub (fresh dates) were
brought to us, from the (garden) of Ibn Taba (good, pleasant). I interpreted
this dream that we would have good sequel in this world, our position will
be high and our religion will be good and pleasant.

   (Encyclopedia of Islam: P.
   Tahfatul Maudud p. 79
   Ahmad (Musnad) 3/213. 286; Muslim (Wasiya) no: 2270; Abu Daud (Adab) no:

It is evident from the foregoing discussion that good and bad names have
their influence in the waking hours and even in sleep, in life and in death.
Realizing this very fact the Prophet  has emphasized the need for
meaningful, auspicious and good names. Due to ignorance of Islamic
knowledge parents now a days give bad and evil names to their children
and thereby invite misery, misfortune and affliction in the lives of their


        Fate of every man is according to his name. (Arabic Proverb)

                 SUBCONTI NENT

Names owe their origin to the necessity of identification, a need felt from
the very dawn of creation. Allah first taught Adam  the names of all
things. Names, therefore, occupies a very important place in the history of
mankind. The system of naming has evolved through the ages. Names have
undergone additions, alterations and refinements with social, political,
economic and religious changes.

The Chinese were the first known people to acquire more than one name.
The Emperor Fushi is said to have decreed the use of family names, or
surnames, about 2852 B.C. The Chinese customarily have three names. The
family name, placed first, comes from one of the 438 words in the Chinese
sacred poem Po-Chia-Hsing. It is followed by generation name, taken from
a poem of 20 of 30 characters adopted by each family; and a milk name,
corresponding to a Christian name. In the United States, the Chinese often
follow Western practice and put the family name last.

In early times, the Romans had only one name, but later they also used the
praenomen, which stood first as the person’s given name. Next came the
nomen, which indicated the gens, or clan. The last name, the cognomen,
designated the family. For example, Caesar’s full name was Gaius Julius
Caesar. A person sometimes added a fourth name, the agnomen to
commemorate an illustrious action or remarkable event. Family names
became confused at the fall of the Roman Empire, and single names once
again became customary.

Family names came into use again in Northern Italy about the late A.D.
900’s, and became common about the 1200’s. Noble families first adopted
family names to set them apart from the common people. The nobles made
these family names hereditary, descended from father to children. The
nobility called attention to their ancestors in this way. A family name
became the mark of a gentleman, so the common people began to adopt the
practice too.
The Crusaders carried the customs of family names from Italy to the other
countries of Western Europe. Throughout Europe, wealthy and noble

families first adopted family names. In the course of the evolution of
nomenclature the following categories of names prevailed in Europe:
      1.    Personal name
      2.    M iddle name or Christian name
      3.    Ancestral name
      4.    Place name
      5.    Occupational name
      6.    Title
      7.    Nickname etc.

Before the birth of Rasulullah , Arabic names generally combined Ism
(proper name), Nasab (family name), Nisbah (occupational name), Laqab
(title) and Kunyah (calling a person by adding Abu/father with his son’s
name). The use of Kunyah was fairly widely prevalent among the Arabs.
Kunyah was in vogue even among the Israelites before the Arabs. The use
of Kunyah is found even in the epics like Iliad and Odyssey of Homer. But
the use of Kunyah gained the greatest currency among the Arabs. Hariri has
given an elaborate account of different Kunyah in his book M uqama. The
Prophet  maintained the Arab tradition of nomenclature but changed
the un-Islamic names. That tradition continued till the end of the Umayyad
period. During the Abbasid period presumptuous or highly ornamental
names became fashionable. The influence of the Persians was clearly
discernible in this. Abbasid rulers are, therefore, found to have taken names
like Al-M utawakkil ‘Ala Allah (reliant on Allah), Al-M uhtasim Billah
(bound by a covenant with Allah) Al-M ustansir Billah (victorious by Allah)
and so on. Government functionaries were given special adjectival names
like Badruddin (full moon of religion), Saiful Islam (the sword of Islam),
Nizamul M ulk (order of the state) Shujauddowla (courage of the state) and
so on. This Abbasid tradition nomenclature flowed into the new M uslim
society of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent.

In subsequent times such ornamental and adulatory names came into
practice among the Sufis. The influence of the Persian language and Sufism
were the most important vehicle of preaching of Islam in the Indian
subcontinent. The Arabs had sown the seed of the monotheistic creed of
Islam on the polytheistic soil of India. This creed of Islam was, however,
nurtured there through the medium of the Persian language and Sufi
culture. The commentaries on the Qur’an and Hadith by the M uslim
missionaries were mostly in Persian language. Even the non-M uslim
citizens of India during the M uslim period learned Persian as the stage

language. The influence of Persian in the naming of Indian M uslims is,
therefore, quite natural. The M uslims of India used to give themselves and
their children Arabic and Persian names in place of the native ones. Persian
used to be regarded as an Islamic language and the ‘Ulama of that time did
not object to naming in Persian. As has been stated earlier, names reflecting
self conceit or self - glorification are most prominent in the Persian
language e.g. Shahen Shah (emperor of emperors) Jahangir (conqueror of
the world). Shajahan (king of the world) and so on. King Shajahan was
once asked by an ‘Alem why he bore the name Shajahan (king of world)
when he was only the king of India. The King said in reply that India was
the world to him hence he was Shajahan. The M ughal emperors had titles
attached to their names. For example: Babur bore the title Zahiruddin,
Humayun          bore the title Nasiruddin. Akbar Jalaluddin, Jahangir
Nuruddin, Shahjahan had the title Shihabuddin and Auragazeb bore the title
M uhiuddin. Such practice existed among the M uslim rulers both before and
after the M ughal period. The common people were influenced by this. An
Arabic proverb says:

                              ‫א‬   People follow the way of their kings.

M uslims rulers of India used titles as proper names in conjunction with
words like’ Deen (religion), Doula (state), M ulk (kingdom) e.g.,
Nasiruddin, Alauddin, Shujauddoula, Nuzamul M ulk and so on. The
practice of giving names that contained the word ‘Deen’ prevailed most
widely among the general mass of M uslims in India. Compound names
formed by pre-fixing different names to the names of Allah were also
widely prevalent among them e.g., Habibullah, M atiur Rahman, Shamsul
Haque, Aminullah and so on. Such names were often preceded by
M uhammad, the name of the Prophet . There is no doubt that naming
someone M uhammad is an expression of love and respect for Prophet
M uhammad , but in Islam merely love and respect to Rasulullah  is
not enough. His Sunnah should be reflected in our deeds and actions.
Adding M uhammad before a name is not a Sunnah of naming. M uslims,

   Humayun – a historical name widely found in India and other countries, but it is an odd
name in the Arab world. When my father came to Saudi Arabia in 1955, he became known
as ‘Abdur Rahman instead of Muhammad Humayun Kabir. In order to avoid offi cial
entanglement he decided to keep his form er nam e. Humayun has not been included in the
list of names that appear in this book. Humayun is a Persian word, which means blessed. If
this is the case then it is objectionable. Please see chapter: Worst Names.

during the great epoch of Rasulullah  and in the later ages of the
Rightly Guided Khalifahs and later on, never prefixed M uhammad or
suffixed Ahmad (Ahmed- corrupted form) to their names. They rather used
M uhammad or Ahmad as an independent name, which is laudable.

M uslims in the Indo-Pak subcontinent prefixed M uhammad to their names
to distinguish themselves from the Hindus and to show their identity. In
this tradition M usammat is prefixed to women’s’ names e.g., M usammat
Firoja Khatun. It is reasonable to prefix M uhammad to the names of the
followers of Prophet M uhammad  but the word Musammat has been
prefixed as an alternative to the word M uhammad and with the aim of
expressing one’s Islam. The word M usammat is not at all a feminine form
of the word M uhammad. It is a corrupted form of the word M usammah,
that means: named or called, and Musammat is its plural form. This word
is used for both genders. The M ullahs of the Indo-Pak subcontinent have
derived this word M usammiat by adding the Arabic feminine ending ( ) to
the end of M usamma. The use of M usammat before a feminine name is
unnecessary and meaningless.

Adding Khatun to the end of a woman’s name is an innovation of non-
Arabs in Islamic naming. Khatun is a Persian word that means: an
aristocratic lady- generally married. In some M uslim places it is suffixed
randomly to the name of married, unmarried or even widow. So, adding
Musmmat and Khatun as a prefix and suffix to a woman’s name is useless
and unnecessary.

The Shi’ah influence is noticeable in the nomenclature of M uslims of the
Abbasid period and among the Indian M uslims. The Shi’ah succeeded
subtlety in foisting their particular shade of belief on these M uslims
through names. Names like ‘Ali, Hasan, Husain command the respect and
reverence of all. Names like ‘Abid Ali (worshipper of ‘Ali), ‘Abid Hasan
(worshipper of Hassan), Zakir Husain (invoker of Husain), Zakir ‘Ali
(invoker of Ali) Sajjad Husain (who prostrate to Husain) and so on, are
highly objectionable in their meanings. Such names, in this sense, are
considered un-Islamic, but names like ‘Abid ibn ‘Ali (‘Abid, son of ‘Ali),
Zakir ibn Husain (Zakir, son of Husain), Sajjad ibn ‘Ali (Sajjad, son of
‘Ali) etc., are permissible and are desirable in accordance with Islamic
principles. Due to ignorance of the Arabic language compound names
formed by juxtaposing two or more names or words are, in most cases,

objectionable. Such blunders in naming are committed mostly due to a
disregard of Islamic principles.

Shi’ah’s add the suffix ‘Ali to their names according to their beliefs.
Among the Shi’ah, the‘Alawwis, Nusaiyeris and Druze sects take ‘Ali 
as Ilah (One whom to be worshipped). The Ithna Ashariyin (followers of
Twelve Imams), the largest Shi’ah sect ascribe pre-eminence to ‘Ali 
over Abu Bakr As-Siddique , ‘Umar  and ‘Uthman . The
realization of this creed is seen in different sphere of their lives. The
addition of ‘Ali in naming shows a clever manipulation of that creed. The
Sunnis are trapped in their manipulation. So, names like Band-e- ‘Ali
(Slave of ‘Ali), Hedayet ‘Ali (Guided by ‘Ali), Kudret-e-Khuda (Power of
God) etc., are not only objectionable but are contrary to Islamic belief. In
the same manner, naming people by adding Hasan, Husain may be
objectionable if these two words are not properly prefixed or suffixed.
Apart from those, the meanings of many peculiar names can go against the
spirit of Islam, for example:

A M uslim is named Qudret-e-Khuda. His Hindu or non-M uslim colleagues
use to call him M r. Khuda (M r. God) or Khuda Shaheb. How would this
word fall on the ears of a M uslim? Hindus are accustomed to call a person:
Mr. Bhagvan (name of a god), M r. Iswah (name of a god) etc. Hindus have
multitudes of god and goddess. They can make anything a God at anytime.
Can a M uslim dare to take such a name or utter such a word?

The untenable position that arises out or pre-fixing words to ‘Din’, ‘Islam’,
‘Alam’, Zaman,’ ‘Huda’, is briefly discussed below:

Names like: Fakhrul Islam (the pride of Islam), Fakruddin (the glory of
religion), Fakhrul ‘Alam, etc. are seen to be objectionable for no one can
claim himself as such because the types of names are reflective of self -
glorification. As we mentioned before, the Prophet  asked us not to
entertain a high opinion of ourselves. Anyway, Arabic speaking people
never call a person by such a name. Of course, names like Nasiruddin,
M ohiuddin etc. are good and desirable in respect of meaning, but names
like Deen M uhammad (religion of M uhammad), Islamuddin (religion of
Islam) are tautological and make no sense. Likewise, compound names
formed with ‘Alam’, ‘Zaman’, ‘Dhuha’ etc. such as Shamsul ‘Alam (sun of
the world), Badre ‘Alam (full moon of the world), Shamsudduha (sun of
the morning), Qamaruzzaman (moon of the age) etc. are unrealistic and

ludicrous. M istakes are even committed while adding names of Allah to
His attributive names, for example Azizur Rahman, Azizul Haq, etc. True
M uslims should avoid such names. The Prophet  said:
((...                              ))  ‫א‬                              ‫אא‬
 Eschew what makes you doubt, so that you may not be doubted.83

The formation of names by adding Nasab, Nisbah, Laqab
as well as Kunyah is Sunnah and helps to avoid
objectionable names. Names therefore formed by the
juxtaposition of different words would not be required.
As in glamour and variety of dress, women take special concern in naming
than men. There has been relatively little variation in the past and present
day in the names of men; but the names of women are like the border of
their Sari, Shelwar, M axi etc., and the design of their blouses have passed
through various modifications. Naming follows the pattern of similar
modification for their case. It very hard to find any similarity to Islamic
names in their process of evolution. Names like Baby, M ili, Tusi, Tony,
Bithi, Lutu, Lata, Chaya, M aya, Kaya etc., can be heard in the household of
M uslims. As the blouses of women become bane like the decaying moon of
the dark fortnight, a similar deformity has taken place in names as a result
of the blind imitation of so-called fashion.

Giving glamorous names owing to the wide spread attraction of cinema in
the present age is also noticeable. In M uslim countries especially in Egypt
and Lebanon, the film heroines adopt sexually exciting name like:

 Nahed or Nihad                       A woman having very high breast
 Nahd                                 High breast of a woman
 Hiyam                                Blind or passionate love, thirsty for
                                      love, a woman- madly in love

   Al-Bukhari (Bab: Tafsir Mushabbat); At-Tirmidhi (Sunan) no: 2442; An-Nasaiyi
(Sunan) no: 5615; Ahmad (Musnad) no: 1630, 1636, 11656, 12092.

 Ghada                              A tantalizing, delightfully soft young
                                    woman in full bloom
 Nashwah                            Intoxicating power, insanity
 Haifaa                             Thirsty for love; impatient for love
 Maysah                             A paragon of beauty, tantalizing;
                                    proud of beauty etc.

Such exciting names aim at titillating the sexual feeling which goes well
with the sexually obsessed film world, but these names outside that colorful
world are expression of unnatural lasciviousness. These names are most
objectionable in every day life. Even the ultra-modern dad who is
accustomed to watching the thrillers of half-naked or naked films with his
family would not have given such hit Names to his children if he was
aware of their meanings. It is the obsession of presenting ourselves to be
modern from which we are suffering. That is reflected in the expression of
our perverted taste. As a result, we hear brand new names unheard of
before. Ignoring the sacred duty of naming children beautiful, meaningful
names, parents are giving them corrupted names instead; this is
condemning children to degradation.

The M uslims of the Indo-Pak subcontinent have accepted Arabic and
Persian names due to religious necessity and cultural heritage. During the
British period the influence of English names could not make inroads
among the M uslims due to their religious identity. On the other hand, the
Hindus often imitated the English nomenclature: Bandhopadhaya has
become Banerjee, Bashu became Vose, Roy became Rey, and Pal became
Paul and so on. Since then names like Amit Rey have appeared on the
stage of Tagore’s Bengali literature. In such a way English veneer was
given to Hindu names due to a servile mentality and a desire for blind

We see a similar picture of the M uslims in countries that were French
colonies. A case in point is Algeria where a tremendous French influence
persists even today which can be easily perceived in the names of our
Algerian brothers. Names like M amen Aissa, Kettouche M ustapha for
boys and Dahak Fatma, Bouleghlem M alika for girls are very common.
Turkey, “the sick man of Europe” earned the title ‘M odern” under the
leadership of M ustafa Kamal. Unfortunately the modernizing of Turkey
consisted mainly in de-Islamizing the Turkish culture. M ustafa Kamal, it
seems, was bent on cleansing Turkey from its Islamic hue in every sphere.

The present day Turkey still carries on the anti-Islamic campaign begun by
Kamal, under the catchy name of secularization. So, we hear names like
Turgut Ozal, Bulent Ecevit which do not show any Islamic identity. The
recent furor over a lady parliamentarian wearing a Hijab leading to her
losing her Turkish citizenship is but one example of anti-Islamism
perpetrated by the secular leaders of Turkey. No matter how much the
secularists try to appear non-Islamic and secular they have failed to impress
the EU and Turkey still remains unacceptable to the Union and remains
“the ‘Sick M an” that it was before.
The Turkish drive of de-Islamizing the M uslims found followers in many
M uslim countries in Asia and Africa. We see this attempt of de-
Islamization and narrow nationalism reflected in naming also. So, they are
naming their children local names of their own languages.
Personal names in Indonesia, for example, are in their own language or
taken from some Hindu names. In Nigeria, where the majority is M uslims,
some name their children in the local language or with Christian names. In
Russia, Bosnia or in Albania, the names of the M uslims are mixed with
Russian or European names. In the latter countries, the respective
government tried their best to abolish the Islamic identity, but did not
succeed. Fortunately, one notices there is a resurgence of Islamic hopes and
aspirations in the lives of the people in the above mentioned countries and
they are returning to Islamic culture and tradition visible in the names being
given to the people of today.
The colonial British rule of the Indo-Pak subcontinent for two hundred
years was not able to influence the M uslim names in any way. But in the
present day independent Bangladesh one sees a passionate outburst of so-
called indiscriminate nationalism. An infiltration of non-M uslim names has
taken place in the M uslim society. After the emergence of Bangladesh a
tide of Bengali thought came in.
The initial tidal waves overflow the riverbanks and we call it flood. A wave
of uprooting and unfaltering came to the Bengali society of that time. The
excessively violent expression of that Bengalism has spread in various
spheres of life. A group of people tried to do away with the Arabic, Persian
and Urdu words in use in the Bengali language and to replace then with
pure Bengali words. Even if the language was to lose its power or become
shameful that was acceptable. Bizarre attempts at saying “Bangasthali” (a
bag for Bengal) in place of “Paksthali” (the stomach) were noticed at that
time. That attitude became more expressive in the naming of people. In the
houses of Bangladeshi M uslims one hears names like Rajib, Sajib,

Chanchal, Komal, Bimal, Tushar, Tuheen, Pradeep, Swati, Bithi, Chali,
Lata, Banya, Hasi, etc. When I came to know a man Komal M ajumdar by
name, I tried to find out about the man. Good Heavens! The man appeared
to be a pure M uslim product - made in Bangladesh. The man’s father’s
name was M uhammad and that of his mother was Khadijah.

We can not give a verdict as to whether giving names to M uslims in
Bengali, Hindi, English, French or any other language is permissible or not,
but the following Hadith of the M essenger of Allah  will suffice as a
                      ((                              ))  ‫א‬                                    ‫אא‬
It is narrated by ‘Abu Umar that Prophet Muhammad said: One who
imitates a community (people) he belongs to them.

Let us conclude with the hope that no believing M uslim will knowingly opt
to join the ranks of the unbelieving Ummah or people on Day of Judgment.

     Abu Daud (Sunnan) no: 3512; also in Fathul Bari – Sharh Sahih Al-Bukhari …

A name is a means of identification of a thing. Everybody knows like Shakespeare that if
the rose is called by any other name like tose or fose it would as sweet; but an unworthy
name given to such a beautiful thing may rob its poetic appeal and banish it from the realm
of poetry. A non-Arabic name given to a Muslim may not totally destroy his/her Islamic
character; but it creates a problem of identity as a Muslim and excludes him/her from the
Muslim community. (Bashir Al-Ma'sumi)


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