Choosing Your Child’s Name

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As a Muslim one has to understand that the names given to Muslims must be significant and meaningfull. Muslim all over world have their own recognition in each and every field of their life. Likewise, Muslims are generally recognized by their names from other people associated to other religions. The important aspect of a person’s name is that it bespeaks a person’s religion. Hence the name of a Muslim is usually of such a nature that by the mere mention of it, the listener understands that the person so addressed, is a Muslim. It is for this reason that our elders also laid great emphasis on keeping good and pleasant names. Thus it is important to understand for a Muslims to provide their child a beautiful meaningful name. Our beloved prophet (PBUH) advised parents not only to provide with best of the education to their children also advised them to give their kids attractive significant Islamic names so that they are blessed by Almighty Allah’s.  

It is important to note that our beloved prophet (PBUH) taught us that children should be given meaningful Arabic names. Worthless names, those having unpleasant and nasty meaning or obnoxious associations of that name should be kept away. He has insisted to keep away giving terrible names to our loved ones. We as Muslims has to fallow our prophet( PBUH) by giving our children suitable pleasing meaningful Islamic names not having offensive meanings. It is important for us to give our children the Islamic names of the dignified Prophets. Allah feels affection for names like Abdullah, Abdul Rahman. The most disliked names are Harb & Murrah (Battle& bitter)  

The meaning of the name of Muhammad is “He who is worthy of praise”. It is estimated that more than 15 million people in the world bear the name Muhammad not only of its great meaning but because of respect, reverence and love they have for their beloved prophet This name also has many variants, alternatives like Ahmed, Mahmoud, Mustaffah, Mujtabah and so forth. If one also counts all those who use it as a middle or family name, the number rises to perhaps more than 60 million people. This makes it one of the most used names in the world.  

The names carry meanings, and every person will be influenced by (the meaning of) his name. In most cases man is required to call himself – or his children – by good names with good meanings, so that they will be influenced positively by their names.   

Islam came to the Arabs and the non-Arabs, and it is not essential for a new Muslim to take an Arabic name, rather what is required is that he should not have a name that is ugly or carries a meaning that goes against Islam. Many Persians and Byzantines embraced Islam and kept their names, and did not change them. Indeed many of the Prophets had names that were not Arabic because they were not Arabs. It is worthwhile to mention that a person who has converted to Islam does not need to change their name unless their name embodies the worship of someone or something other than God. Thus if the original name does not comprise or imply something forbidden in Islam, then he or she is permitted to retain it. However, many scholars say that it is preferable to change ones name to an Islamic name so that it will distinguish him or her from the non -Muslims. But it is not mandatory.  

A person’s name is one of the most important issues in people’s lives, because a person’s name is a title which says something about him, and is essential for communicating with him. It is an adornment and symbol for the person, by which he is called in this world and in the hereafter. It is indicative of the religion to which he belongs, and makes him feel that he is one of the followers of that religion. It is according to the sunnah of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to change a bad name (whether it is an Arabic name or in any other language) immediately, and it is permissible according to sunnah to replace a name for a better one.  

It was narrated by Ibn Umar that a daughter of Umar was called ‘Aasiyah’ (meaning as disobedient), but the Prophet (PBUH) renamed her Jameelah (beautiful). (Narrated by Muslim 2139).  

As narrated by al-Bukhaari (6190) from Ibn al-Musayyab that his father came to the Prophet(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) who asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Hazn (meaning rough).”Prophet (PBUH) said to him, “You are Sahl (meaning easy). He replied back, “I will not change the name that my father gave to me.” Ibn al-Musayyab said, ” we have had roughness ever since.”  

Some of the Psychologists now came to the conclusion that a person’s name has effects on his life. But Muhammad(PBUH) had discovered the fact, and conveyed to his followers already 1400 years ago.  

But since the globalization widespread, Western culture throughout the world, it has become customary amongst Muslims not to consider the meaning of the name when naming a child. Many do not even bother to ascertain whether it is permissible for one to keep such a name or not.  

It is unfortunate that Parents are apt to call their children with nicknames or given names, and in a good number of cases these names endure to the exclusion of real ones. This is very much common in Indian continent .While choosing nicknames or calling names care should be taken to see to it that one does not change its meaning or that person should not feel ashamed to be addressed by it in his full grown age.   

We corrupt the names of children, just in a fondly way, but later on this corruption goes so deep that it is beyond rectification and modification. Far instance, Muhammad is turned into Mamma, Ahmed into Amma, Sultan into sulla Fathma into faata, Khadejah into kajja, zainib into zaana and so on. The parents are the root cause of such mutilations. They should avoid this sort of habit. Islamic philosophy of naming is that a child must have a good name, significant of good augury, congenial to human nature sweet, serene, noble, indicative of submission to the Almighty, avoiding names suggestive of ferociousness or sanguinity. The name should not smack of dirtiness, incivility, abuse or debasement.   

The last but not least point to be kept in view while naming a child is that the Muslim identity should not be lost in strange and foreign names. The Muslims must be able to clearly make out whether a man or a woman belongs to Muslim society by just hearing their names. That is, the names must be familiar and relative to Muslims. There is nothing wrong in naming a girl as Rosy, or rubby, but on hearing it her identity is lost. Such un-Islamic names must be avoided even as nicknames or calling names. Every man and woman must have a distinct name but it is not possible to do so. Hence, human ingenuity and inventing power has attached prefixes and suffices to common names just to make out one from the other. This glossary also contends itself only with more common names in vogue among Muslims of Indo-Pak origin.
Author is Deputy Grand Mufti of Kashmir

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