|Q.) Is it mandatory in Islam to name our children with Arabic names? Please answer in the light of Qur’an and Sunnah, thank you. [Murad]
A.) Psychologists now acknowledge the effect a person’s name has on his life. But Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, had revealed this fact to his followers already 1400 years ago. His teaching to his followers was that children should be given good names, and that meaningless names and those having unsavory connotations should be avoided. Subsequently, we find many incidents mentioned in the Hadith where Rasulullah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, changed the names of people with this object.
Another aspect of a person’s name is that it bespeaks a person’s religion. Hence, the name of a Muslim is usually of such a nature that by the mere mention of it, the listener understands that the person so addressed, is a Muslim. It is for this reason that our elders laid great emphasis on keeping good and pleasant names.
But since the spread of Western culture throughout the world, it has become customary amongst Muslims not to take into cognizance the meaning of the name when naming a child. Many do not even bother to ascertain whether it is permissible for one to keep such a name or not. Often, even if the name is correct and suitable, then by way of abbreviating it, its Islamic connotation is distorted. In fact, at times it even become unlawful to address one by such a name. For example, Abdur-Rahmaan is called Rahmaan; Abdur-Razzaaq, Razaaq; Abdul-Wahhaab, Wahhaab – whereas Rahmaan, Razzaaq and Wahhaab are the exclusive epithets of Allah Ta’ala. To address any creation by such a name, is therefore unlawful.
While this disease is rampant in the entire Muslims World, it is more in vogue in some countries like South Africa: Sulaymaan is called Solly; Yoosuf is called Joosub, Essop or Joe; Uthman is called Ossy, etc. In this way the blessed names of the Anbiyaa, alayhimus-salaam, and Sahabah, Radi-Allahu anhum, are distorted and needlessly rendered meaningless. Moreover, one may never know whether the one so addressed is a Muslim or not.
Hence, with regards to naming children, there was a need for compiling a book wherein all misconceptions could be eradicated and guidance could be given as to the importance of giving correct and meaningful names. Alhamdulillah, respect Brother, Moulana Qaree Muhammad Rafeeq, teacher at Madrasah Islamia, Lenasia has fulfilled this need proficiently. The respected compiler has in his introduction explained most ably the Islamic teachings regarding a new-born child. The Masaail pertaining to Tahneek, Adhaan, Du’aas, circumcision, naming a child – and many more – have been explained in detail. Apart from having compiled a book on Muslim names in an alphabetic order, he has also rendered their meanings and their literal and historical aspects as well. During my tour of South Africa, I have had a cursory perusal of the book from various portions and found it to be most invaluable. In my opinion it should find its place into the home of every Muslim – that no family should remain without it.
May Allah Ta’ala grant the compiler the best of rewards in both the worlds for the services rendered by him, and may He also grant this book acceptance and grant him the guidance to render more and greater service of this nature, Aameen.