Answered by: Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Why wasn’t the Prophet of Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam known by the name Ahmad?
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
According to one opinion, the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam had ninety-nine names. Other scholars like Ibn Dihya has said the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam had three hundred names, whereas Ibn Arabi mentions one thousand names. (Aridatul Ahwazi p.281 v.10)
In the Holy Qur’an, both the name Ahmad and Muhammad have been used. For example, in Surah Fath, verse 129 Allah (SWA) says: “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”
However, in Surah Saff, verse 6 the name Ahmad is used. Allah (SWA) says: “And (remember) when Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary) said: “O Children of Israel! I am the Messenger of Allah unto you confirming the Torah which came before me, and bringing the good news about a Messenger who will come after me whose name shall be Ahmad.”
In a hadith, the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam has said “I have five names, I am Muhammad, I am Ahmad, I am al-Mahi (The eraser) by whom Allah erases blasphemy, I am al-Hashir whom people will be assembled after, and I am al-Aqib (the last of all prophets)” (Sahih Bukhari)
Regarding your question, two reasons have been given by scholars. One is that the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam was known as Ahmad in the previous scriptures and Muhammad in Islam. Another possibility is that the name Ahmad was used by the Angels in the sky and the name Muhammad by the people on Earth.
What we can conclude is that the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam had many names including the name Ahamd and Muhammad, but the name Muhammad was commonly used in the scriptures and by people. It is similar to many companions of the Prophet who had one name but were known by other titles. For example, Saaiduna Abu Hurairah Radiallahu Anhu real name was Abdul Rahman bin Sahr, but was given the name of Abu Hurairah because he would always have cats with him. (Al-Isabah Fi tamyiz-is-Sahabah by Hafiz Ibn Hajr (RA))
Only Allah Knows Best
Written by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham