Choosing Meaningful Islamic Names: A Guide For New Parents

I don’t know when you are reading this post, but when I am writing this post, in a few months, I will become a father, Inshallah (if Allah wills). That’s why I’m thinking about my future children’s names. It’s really important to choose a good and meaningful name for them. That’s why I am writing this blog—maybe someone like me will benefit from this.

 

Having a good name in Islam is very significant because it is the most important and fundamental means of identifying a person. Like other things, Islam has given us beautiful and clear instructions for choosing a beautiful name. So, we have to be careful in naming so that we can have a beautiful and meaningful name.

ISLAMIC INSTRUCTION ON KEEPING GOOD AND MEANINGFUL NAMES:

In the books of Hadith, we find lots of instructions from the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) on keeping a good name. Let’s start with a weak Hadith from the renowned book of Hadith “Sunan Abu Dawud,” narrated by AbudDarda, where it’s told that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

Here, we see encouragement from the Messenger of Almighty Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) to keep a good name. Though this Hadith is weak, you can find various Hadith other than this where Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) changed a bad name into a good name. From this, we can understand the importance of a good and meaningful name. Let me give you an authentic Hadith about changing names, from the same book of Hadith “Sunan Abu Dawud,” narrated by Ibn ‘Umar,

Now, why did the Messenger of Almighty Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) change her name? Because the meaning of the name ‘Asiyah” is “disobedient” or “rebellious,” and it portrays a bad meaning. On the other hand, “Jamilah” means beautiful, which has a good meaning. Here is another example of a name change by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). This Hadith is narrated by Usamah ibn Akhdari,

 This is also for the same reason: “Asram” means “more severe” or “more resolute,” which has a bad meaning, while the name “Zur’ah” means “nurturing,” referring to a person’s growth, which has a good meaning.

Now, I hope you understand the reason behind changing these names.

 

As we have a clear conception that Islam always encourages us to keep a good, meaningful name, we have already discussed various examples of changing someone’s name by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) just because the name’s meaning was not good. So remember, our name should have a good meaning.

SOME EXCEPTIONS IN NAMING

Though we came to know that the good meaning of a name is essential in Islam, there are some exceptional cases found in the book of Hadith. Muhammad b. ‘Amr b. ‘Ata said,

 Here is another similar type of Hadith narrated by Samurah,

Here we see that the meanings of these names are not bad, yet they are forbidden in Islam. The reason is we cannot accurately say how successful or beneficial a person is. The complete knowledge belongs only to Allah Almighty. He knows truly who is successful and who is beneficial. Because the way we measure success and other things is not the same way Allah Almighty does. That’s why these meanings are related to Almighty Allah. I hope you have already understood the reason.

MOST FAVORITE NAMES TO ALMIGHTY ALLAH

Abdullah (عَبْدُ اللَّه) and Abdur Rahman (عَبْدُ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنُ) are the most favorite names to Almighty Allah. There is an authentic Hadith narrated by Ibn Umar, where Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

These two names are also related to the name of Allah Almighty. So while keeping someone’s name, we should prioritize these two names. We can also keep the name of Almighty Allah before adding the word (عبد) [slave]. For example, عَبْدُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ (Slave of The Bestower of Mercy) or عَبْدُ ٱلْمَلِكُ (Slave of The King and Owner of Dominion).

NAMING AFTER PROPHET MUHAMMAD'S (PEACE AND BLESSINGS BE UPON HIM) NAME

We know the best human being in world history is Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). He had all the good qualities that make a person truly exemplary. In continuation of this, he has some beautiful names. These names are also highly recommended for us when selecting someone’s name. There are various Hadiths in this regard, and I will mention one of them. Abu Hurairah reported the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) as saying:

 So when we name ourselves after Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), this will also be considered a Sunnah of the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) to the Almighty Allah. It is also a way of abiding by his command or an encouragement. Here is a Hadith from “Sahih al-Bukhari” that includes some of the names of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) narrated by Jubair bin Mut`im,

 Besides these names, there are also many more names. If you want to know the list of names of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), you can read this post. This list includes the names of the Messenger of Almighty Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and his surname. So while naming someone, you should use only his name, not the surname.

NAMING AFTER THE MESSENGERS OF ALMIGHTY ALLAH AND NOBLE PERSONS IN ISLAM

The messengers of Almighty Allah are always followed by us. In that sense, their names are also good for us to follow. Their names are beautiful as well. Similarly, we can consider the names of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and Islamic scholars. For women, the best choices would be the names of Prophet Muhammad’s (peace and blessings be upon him) wives, daughters, and the female companions of the Messenger of Almighty Allah (peace and blessings be upon him).

The last thing about naming

It is totally my opinion. You should always try to have a nice story behind the name you choose for your children or  someone else so that when you are asked later, “Why did you choose this name for me?” you have a nice and logical answer. After knowing the story behind his or her name, that person will be happy, and your acceptance towards him or her will increase. Moreover, it would be considered a virtue of a responsible Muslim.

Yeah, that’s enough for today. Zajhakallah (Thank you) for staying with Spreading Wisdom.

footnote

1. Sunan Abi Dawud, 4948 In-Book Reference: Book 43, Hadith 176 English Reference: Book 42, Hadith 4930
2. Sunan Abi Dawud, 4952 In-Book Reference: Book 43, Hadith 180 English Reference: Book 42, Hadith 4934
3. Sunan Abi Dawud, 4954 In-Book Reference: Book 43, Hadith 182 English Reference: Book 42, Hadith 4936
4. Sunan Abi Dawud, 4953 In-Book Reference: Book 43, Hadith 181 English Reference: Book 42, Hadith 4935
5. Sunan Abi Dawud, 4959 In-Book Reference: Book 43, Hadith 187 English Reference: Book 42, Hadith 4941
6. Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith 4949
7. Sunan Abi Dawud, 4965 In-Book Reference: Book 43, Hadith 193 English Reference: Book 42, Hadith 4947
8. Sahih al-Bukhari, 4896 In-Book Reference: Book 65, Hadith 416 USC-MSA web (English) reference: Vol. 6, Book 60, Hadith 419 (deprecated numbering scheme)

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