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TASMIYA: Naming Your Newborn

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  • TASMIYA: Naming Your Newborn

    TASMIYA: Naming Your Newborn
    This article is based on answers by prominent scholars like, Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-Uthaymeen (Majmoo Fataawa wa Rasa'il Fadeelat), Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd (Mu'jam al-Manaahi al-Lafziyyah), Shaykh Abd al-Aziz Ibn Abdullah Ibn Baaz (Kitaab Majmoo Fataawa wa Maqaalaat Mutanawwi'ah li Samaahat), Shaikh Muhammad S. Al-Munajjad and others.
    Do names effect the child's character?

    Names do not have any effect on the child's character or personality, except that the meaning of the name would inspire him, when he grows old enough to understand its meaning and indication. A good and pleasant name would motivate the person to do good acts and inspire him strength and honor, since he is repeatedly called by it.

    For example, if the child is named 'Abdullah' meaning 'a slave of Allah'; his name will make him realize and keep him aware of his servitude to Allah. He will understand his true role and the purpose of life. Likewise, if he is named after the Khalifah Uthmaan Ibn Affan; the character, qualities and actions of Uthmaan Ibn Affan (radhiyallahu anhu) would influence him. It might even lead him to perform actions, which befit his name and prevent those, which conflict its character. Similar is the case with unpleasant names, which denote bad qualities and actions. A bad name might even provoke the person to do evil!!

    Before you decide a name for your child, it is good to consider some important details. Know that the name, which you decide for your child will stay with him all through his life, therefore the name you choose should not embarrass or humiliate his personality.

    You should bear in mind the different stages of life and give him a name which would sound good as a child, a youth, an adult, a father, etc. and how it would suit the father to be called as, 'Abu foolan' meaning, 'Father of so and so.' Because a name which causes embarrassment or discomfort might be a cause of bad feelings of the child towards his parents.

    When should the child be named?

    Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) said: "Every child is held in pledge for his Aqeeqah which is sacrificed for him on his seventh day, and he is named on it and his head is shaved." [(Saheeh) by Shaikh al-Albanee (1165) Abu Dawood (vol: 2, no: 2831) and others]

    Another narration in this aspect is related by Anas (radhiallahu anhu), who said: 'Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) said: "A boy was born to me this night and I have given him the name of my forefather Ibraheem." [Saheeh Muslim (4/ 5733)]

    In light of these Ahaadeeth we understand that the child can be named on the first day of his birth or it can be delayed until the seventh day. However, what is recommended is to name the child on the seventh day, as such is related in the saying of Allah's Messenger r. Regarding the Hadeeth which mentions the Prophet's practice is taken as an evidence to prove that the child can be named before the seventh day.

    Who should name the child?

    It is the right of the father to choose and name the child because the child will be ascribed and attributed to him (so and so, son/daughter of so and so). But it is Mustahabb (recommended) for the father to consult and involve his wife in the decision. It is also permissible to allow the grandparents or someone else to name the child, since this is also confirmed in the Sunnah.

    Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) also named his grandchildren; the children of Fatimah. [Reported by Imaam al-Bukharee in Adaab al-Mufrad. Saheeh according to al-Haafidh al-Isaabah (4/450)]


    1. Names that indicate servitude to Allah

    A name with the first word Abd (slave) followed by any Name of Allah (which is established in the Qur'aan and the Sunnah) This indicates servitude to Allah, for e.g. Abd al-Ilaah means 'slave of the One True Lord' Abd al-Ghafoor, Abd al-Lateef, Abd al-Azeez, Abd al-Raheem, Abd al-Malik, etc. However, the best names in this category is 'Abd-Allaah' (the slave of Allah) and 'Abd al-Rahmaan' (the slave of the Rahmaan) as it was reported that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) said: "The most beloved of names to Allaa are 'Abd-Allah and 'Abd al-Rahmaan." [Saheeh Muslim (1398)]

    It is forbidden to use a name which is not known to be from the Perfect Names of Allah , like Abd al-Mawjood (the slave of the Present One), Abd al-Sattar, etc. This is because Allah's Names cannot be confirmed without an authentic text from the Qur'aan or the Sunnah. By doing so, we would end up giving Names to Allah, which are not affirmed for Him.

    Note: It is Makrooh to use any word with the name of Allah except 'Abd', like 'Rahmat Allah' (the Blessings of Allah).

    2. Names of Prophets and Messengers

    The second priority is given to the names of the Prophets and Messenger. Amongst them, first comes the name of our Messenger, Muhammad (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam). (Ahmad is also one of his names).

    Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) said: "You may name with my name." [Saheeh al-Bukharee (8/206) and Saheeh Muslim (3/53254)]

    Then next are the 'Messengers of strong will' [Soorah al-Ahqaaf (46): 35] namely, Ibraheem, Moosa, Eesa and Nooh, then the rest of the Prophets (alaihim as-salaam).

    Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) himself followed this principle and named his son after Ibraheem (alaihis-salaam), he said: "A son was born to me this night and I called him after my forefather, Ibraheem." [Saheeh Muslim (4/5733)]

    3. Names of righteous slaves of Allah

    The Sahabah (the Companions of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam)), the Shuhadah (Martyrs) and the Ulama (Scholars). Above all are the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhu); it is Mustahabb (preferable) to name after them, hoping to follow their example, attaining righteousness and high status.

    4. Any good name

    The last category suggests those good names, which have a good and pleasant meaning, and are easily pronounced. Examples of such names are Khalid, Usaamah and for girls are Sarah, Su'ad, etc.


    This category includes Haraam names; therefore anyone who has any of these names is obliged to change it

    1. Names indicating servitude to other than Allah.

    Islam forbids worshiping anyone or anything other than Allah, therefore any name, which shows any servitude to anybody except Him must be avoided, whether it be Prophets, Angels or a leader, like Abd al-Rasool (slave of the Messenger), Abd an-Nabi (slave of the Prophet), or Abd Al-Ameer (slave of the prince).

    The great Sahabee (Companion of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam)), Abd al-Rahmaan Ibn Awf (radhiallahu anhu) said: "My name was Abd Amr - or according to one report, Abd al-Ka'bah and when I became Muslim, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) called me 'Abd al-Rahmaan." [Narrated by al-Haakim (3/306)]

    Also, Haani' Ibn Yazeed (radhiallahu anhu) said: "A delegation came to the Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) and he heard them calling someone 'Abd al-Hajar (slave of the stone). He asked him: 'What is your name?" and he said, 'Abd al-Hajar.' He said, "No, you are Abd-Allaah (the slave of Allah).'" [See Al-Mawsoo'ah al-Fiqhiyyah (11/335)]

    It is mentioned in Kashshaaf al-Qinaa': "They (the scholars) agreed that every name which implies enslavement to anything other than Allaah is forbidden (Haraam), such as 'Abd al-'Uzza, 'Abd 'Amr, 'Abd 'Ali, 'Abd al-Ka'bah, and any other similar names, such as 'Abd al-Nabi (slave of the Prophet), 'Abd al-Husayn, 'Abd al-Maseeh (slave of the Messiah)." [Haashiyat Ibn Aabideen 5/268; Mughni al-Muhtaaj, 4/295; Tuhfat al-Muhtaaj, 10/373; Kashshaaf al-Qinaa', 3/27]

    2. Names befitting Allah Alone

    According to the consensus of the scholars names which are particular to Allah alone are Haraam to be used, like al-Quddoos (the Most Holy), al-Khaliq (the Creator), al-Raaziq (the Provider), al-Rabb (the Lord), al-Rahmaan (the Most Merciful), etc.,

    Also names, which are Attributes of Allah alone, like Malik al-Mulook (King of kings), al-Qaahir (the Subduer), etc. because Allah says: "Do you know of any who is similar to Him?" [Soorah Maryam (19): 65]

    The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) said: 'The most despised name with Allah on the Day of Resurrection will be a man called Malik al-Mulook." [Saheeh al-Bukharee]

    According to a report in Saheeh Muslim, he (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) said: "The man who will be most deserving of Allah's anger and most evil on the Day of Resurrection will be a man who was called Malik al-Amlaak. There is no King except Allah."

    It is also forbidden to use names, which befit no one except the Prophet, such as Rahmat lil-Alameen (Mercy for the world), Sayyid Walad Adam (master of the sons of Adam), Sayyid al-Naas (master of mankind), Sayyid al-Kull (master of all)etc. because these names befit no one except him.

    3 . Names, which exclusively belong to the Kuffar

    Foreign names, which have no basis in the Arabic and are particular to the Kuffar like, George, David, Michael, Joseph, Diana, etc. and other names, which denote religions of Kufr are all forbidden. Such is because these names cause imitating the Kuffar and might sooner or later create a feeling of closeness and love for them.

    The temptation to use such names is very strong in our time, but this is a big sin and a sign of humiliation and defeat - It is imitating the Kuffar. If taking their names is due to whims and desires, then no doubt, it is a major sin.

    And the person should be reminded the Hadeeth of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) said: "He who imitates a people is one of them." [Saheeh al-Bukharee] and if using such names is because one actually believes that these names are better than the Muslim names, then this will take him away from Islam!

    In either case, the person who has done this must hasten to repent. (changing the name is a condition of repentance)

    4. Names of Idols and false gods are all Haraam.


    The following types of names are Makrooh meaning undesired, if somebody has one of them, he should change it. But if it is difficult for him to do so, then he is not obliged.

    (a) Names, which are too soft, charming or have provocative meaning, especially for the girls, like Ghaadah (delicate young woman), Huyaam (one passionately in love), Shaadiyah (female singer), etc.

    (b) Names of immoral people, such as singers and actors. This is a sign of foolishness and lack of pride in one's faith, which is often seen when a particular show or a movie becomes famous, people compete with one another to name their newborns after these women and actors.

    If these people have names carrying good meanings, then it is permissible to use them, but not in their imitation but for the good meaning!

    (c) Names, which convey any kind of sin or refer to sinners and tyrants, like 'Saariq' (thief) or 'Zaalim' (wrongdoer), Fir'awn, Haamaan, Qaroon, etc. It is also forbidden to use names of devils (shayaateen), such as Khanzab, al-Walhaan, al-A'war and al-Ajda'

    (d) Names of animals, which are well known for their undesirable characteristics, such as al-Himaar (donkey), al-Kalb (dog), al-Qird (monkey), etc.

    (e) Names with ugly and undesirable meaning, which might sound odd and provoke others to make fun of the person and cause him embarrassment, like 'Harb' (war), Sahaam (summer heat). Using such names is against the teachings of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam), who taught us to use beautiful names,

    he (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) said: "On the day of Resurrection you will be called by your names and your fathers names, so make your names good." [Musnad Ahmad (5/194).

    It's isnaad is declared 'Hasan' (good) by Imaam an-Nawawi and Ibn al-Qayyim. However, it was declared weak by Shaikh al-Albanee and others]

    (f) Any name, which is added to the word 'Deen' or 'Islam' (i.e., names which appear in idaafah genitive construction with these words) such as Noor al-Deen (light of the religion), Shams al-Deen (sun of the religion), Sayf al-Islam (Sword of Islam), Imaam ad-Deen (Imaam of the Religion), etc. because of the great status attached to these two words and also because such names give a person more than what he deserves. Therefore, some scholars ruled it Haraam, while majority say it is Makrooh.

    This practice of using the words 'Deen' and 'Islam' along with one's name was started with giving such titles to learned men. Later people started using them as first names.

    Shaikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) was known as 'Taqiy al-Deen' (piety of the religion), he disliked it and he would say: "But my family gave me this nickname and it became well-known." Similarly, Imaam an-Nawawi (rahimahullah) disliked his nickname 'Muhiy al-Deen' (reviver of the religion).

    (g) Names of Angels - It is disliked to use the names of Angels, particularly for girls because it implies imitation of the Mushrikeen, who considered Angels as daughters of Allaah. (Na'aodhu billah).

    (h) Names of Qur'aanic Soorahs, such as Ta-Ha and Yaa-Seen because these words are al-Huroof al-Muqatta'ah (letters which appear at the beginning of some Soorahs and their meaning is known to Allaah Alone)

    [See Tuhfat al-Mawdood by Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullah), p 109] (The notion that Ya-Seen and Ta-Ha are names of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) is false.)
    You are not aware of the consequences that would result (if you were granted what you desire) because what you seek might be to your detriment. (O soul) be conscious that your Master is more aware about your well-being than you are.

    ~Ibn Al-Jawzee


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