Thursday, March 5, 2009

"Islamic names"

People often talk about changing their name to a "Muslim name" when they start following Islam. I read early on that it was necessary to change your name if the meaning of your name is against Islam, which makes total sense, logically. No one wants the meaning of what is used to identify them all-the-time to be something against what they believe in!

So someone with a name like Christian would want to change it, definitely, and any "Christ" name. And names that worship other than God like Abd-el-Messiah. Some people with names of Greek or Roman gods might want to change it because of the association to other gods, even though many of these names don't mean anything against God in and of themselves. But it could be "safe" to change it. People might want to change a name that is a quality of God. One example is Alvis, which means "all wise" in Norse. He might want to change it if he became Muslim. Don't know about Elvis, which *possibly* comes from this name. Might want to change it to be on the safe side. Anyway, all to say that there are plenty of names I can imagine people changing because they are against Islam, or are borderline against Islam.

But what about a person with a regular, nice, English name? Think: Faith. I can see some reasons to add to a perfectly good name... For Hajj purposes in the future maybe. To be outwardly seen as a Muslim, but Muslim women do not have that reason, unless they do not wear hijab or want to erase their non-Muslim identity. But personally, I can't fully understand these reasons because I'm so proud of who I am, where I came from (from this country, this province, from my family, etc.). And about Faith up there, she'd need to find a really amazing Arabic name to make it a better Muslim name than that.

I seriously do not think that an Arabic name that is mostly used by Muslims is any better than an English name with a great meaning. In fact, it's less good, as far as I'm concerned.

I don't have anything against a person adopting a Muslim name (I'd like to just call it an Arabic name used mostly by Muslims), especially not if they just added it to their existing name (if their existing name was a fine name, I mean), but there's still something I don't understand about those who fully change their perfectly OK name to an Arabic one. Like... Why? Why do you want to erase your previous self?

This wasn't even the point of the post... Don't know what it was anymore. My ideas are all over the map and I wish I could re-write it like I normally would, but I refuse to write it up again just for coherance reasons. That's me today. Sorry about that.

Thoughts welcome, as usual. :)

10 Comentários:

أم ترافيس said...

well my name has a weird meaning, it means, who is like God... depending on how u look at it I guess it is not that great, though I changed my name simply because it was "the thing"... when u convert in a court they ask u if u want a new name, and my friends picked out "manar" cuz of its meaning - relating to light, but later found out it refers more specifically to being a guiding light! subhanAllah. anyhow, living in an arabic country i think it is nice to have arabic name, although when they hear my two names together (like at the doctor etc) they always ask two or three times cuz they dont get it! hahaha

Candice said...

I know a Manar in Egypt. She is Bahai, actually, but it is a pretty cool meaning. I like light names, my daughter is Nora Claire so both names have some similar style of meaning (light and clear).

khany said...

i highly respect people's decision to change their name. i believe changing names has tremendous psychological significance for both the named individual and those who call upon him. it is a constant and intimate reminder of the change that the individual has embraced.

still we should not lose sight of the fact that the best generation of muslims, the companions of the prophet (may god be pleased with them), kept their "pagan" arab names, except in cases where a change was necessitated. for example omar, usman, ali, asma, khadija, etc. are all arab names. even companions of the prophet who came from foreign cultures persian, byzantine and abyssinian kept their given names e.g. salman, shoaib, bilal, etc.

today many more names are recognized as 'muslim' names because people belonging to different cultures adopted islam but continued to be called by their original names.

struggling said...

personally I don't sgree with someone changing their name, unless it has a bad meaning. I'm sure if I did my mom would feel extremely hurt and that's not something that is acceptable in Islam. An Islamic name is not necessarily an arabic name, an Islamic name is a name that has a beautiful meaning, Muslims are not just Arabs, am I Arab? No, so why should I have to have an Arabic name? When a person becomes Muslim they adopt a new religion not a new culture and I think that's what confuses a lot of people

Candice said...

I feel the same way, struggling.

Aalya said...

I too to don't agree with changing your name unless it has a bad meaning...names define who you are so why am I going to change that? I mean I have already changed my religion and so many parts of my daily life...I really would be unhappy if it was necessary!

I have to totally agree with struggling... Islam does not equal being Arab... I think so many people forget that! Islam is multi-cultural and that is the beauty of it!

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Jamilah said...

I didn't change my name legally but I love that I use a Muslim name now. My mom still calls me Jenny and that is fine, but my students, friends and husband call me Jamilah. Its not a requirement, but its something I wanted to do.

I think that people get all upset over it for no reason. I'm not trying to be arab, I'm just leaving behind my life as a disbeliever and embracing a new one.

Anisah said...


I think it's personal choice.
I chose to do Shahada...My given name was chosen for me when I was baptized as Anglicain. Therefore..I felt, since I made my own choice that I deserved to chose my own name.
I will not change it legally, but I do feel other Muslims ( at least) should respect my choice.I also respect choice of my family and friends to still call me Karen.

Candice said...

I do respect people's choices to change their name. Everyone has their own reasons. I was just posting about what I understand and feel about the situation. Didn't mean any harm, really!

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