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Changing Names

Question:

Is it necessary for a new Muslim to change their name?



Answer:

Assalamu Alykum,


If the first name of a new Muslim does not contravene Islām i.e. it does not consist of any polytheistic meaning, then there is no need to change such name. However, it is better & Mustahabb [rewardable] to change this into an Islamic name as names have an effect on a person; this is the reason why the religion of Islām teaches us to keep good names.


Just as the Noble Prophet ﷺ stated,


“إِنَّكُمْ تُدْعَوْنَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِأَسْمَائِكُمْ، وَأَسْمَاءِ آبَائِكُمْ، فَأَحْسِنُوا أَسْمَاءَكُمْ”


“On the Day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and by your father’s names, so give yourselves good names.”


[Sunan Abī Dāwūd, p. 1585, Hadīth no. 4938]


However, if the current name is undesirable, then it is Mustahabb to change it because it has an effect on a person. Just as it has been mentioned narrated by Sayyidunā Sa’īd Ibn al-Musayyab – may Allāh Almighty be pleased with him – in Sahīh al-Bukhārī, stating that when my grandfather presented himself in the noble court of the Holy Prophet ﷺ,


“«مَا اسْمُكَ» قَالَ: حَزْنٌ، قَالَ: «أَنْتَ سَهْلٌ» قَالَ: لاَ أُغَيِّرُ اسْمًا سَمَّانِيهِ أَبِي قَالَ ابْنُ المُسَيِّبِ: «فَمَا زَالَتِ الحُزُونَةُ فِينَا بَعْدُ»”


“The Noble Prophet ﷺ said (to him), ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘My name is Hazn.’ The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘But you are Sahl.’ He said, ‘I will not change my name with which my father named me.’ Ibn al-Musayyib added, ‘Thus, we have had roughness (in character) ever since.’”


[Sahīh al-Bukhārī, vol. 4, p. 153, Hadīth no. 6190]


And Allah knows Best

Mufti Umer Farooq

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