I Just Became Muslim Do I Have to Change My Name?
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I Just Became Muslim Do I Have to Change My Name?

Questioner

John

Reply Date

Mar 07, 2019

Question

Dear scholars, my question relates to changing name, I mean, is it necessary for a new Muslim to change his name or he can keep his Christian or any previous names?

Mufti

Answer


As a New Muslim, Should I Change My Name?

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

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

1- Muslims should have good names and give good names to their children.

2- Islam does not require new Muslims to change their names.

3- New Muslims should only change their first names if they contain wrong or bad meanings. As far as their last names are concerned they should not be changed unless their parents are alive and accept the change.


In this regard, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Fiqh Council of North America, states:

Islam emphasizes that Muslims should have good names and give good names to their children.

It is reported in a hadith that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “You will be called on the Day of Resurrection by your names and the names of your fathers, so have good names.” (Abu Dawud)

During the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) when people used to accept Islam, he would not require all people to change their names. He used to change only those names that carried wrong meanings or un-Islamic ideas and concepts.

The Prophet’s wife Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said about the Prophet, “He used to change bad names.” (At-Tirmidhi)

For instance, Umar had a daughter whose name was “`Asiyah” (meaning disobedient or rude). The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) changed her name to “Jamilah” (the Beautiful- see Sunan Abu Dawud)

Abu Dawud has mentioned many names of people and places that the Prophet changed because they had bad meanings.

Imam Al-Bukhari mentioned that Sa`id ibn al-Musayyib said that when his grandfather came to the Prophet, the Prophet asked him about his name. He said, “Hazn” (meaning Hard). The Prophet said, “You are Sahl. (meaning soft, easy).” The man said, “I do not want to change the name that my father gave me.” His grandson Sa`id used to regret and say afterwards that they kept on experiencing the hardness in their family.

One can only change one’s own name, but one cannot change the family name or name of one’s parents, unless they are alive and accept the change.

So, the new Muslim should change his first names, if it contains wrong or bad meanings.

As far as their last names are concerned, they should not be changed, because it is also forbidden in Islam to take the name of someone other than one’s own biological father. Allah says in the Qur’an,

{Proclaim their real parentage. That will be more equitable in the sight of Allah. And if you do not know their fathers, then they are your brothers in the faith…} (Al-Ahzab 33:5) 

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.




About Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi

Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi is the Chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America

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