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Reverting to Islam: Surname Retention and Marriage Questions

Q: I am a revert to islam and would like to know which verse of the Holy Quran or Hadith says that a revert should retain his surname (my surname is not the name of an idol or such)? And does my wife take my surname or keep her fathers surname?



  1. Certain surnames have certain incorrect connotations and certain surnames are known amongst people as non-Muslim surnames. Though, in principle your previous surname does not have any incorrect connotation or meaning however it will be a means for people having suspicions against you and associating you with the kuffaar. Shariah commands us to refrain from doing things which will cause others to have negative thoughts and suspicions regarding ourselves. Hence, in view of the above, it is best for you to change your surname.
  2. As far as the wife changing her maiden surname to the surname of her husband, then this issue requires some detail. Ambiguity and un-clarity are disliked in Islam. Islam advocates clarity and transparency. Whereas ambiguity means to present something in such a manner that does not reveal the true picture or give the correct meaning. Hence the maiden surname reveals ones true identity and shows the family one comes from. However, in today’s times since changing the maiden surname to the surname of the husband is in vogue, the ambiguity no longer remains and thus it is permissible to change the surname to the surname of the husband. It is commonly understood in society that the surname is for identification purposes. Identification is either through lineage (i.e. ones maiden surname) or either through marriage (i.e. the surname of the husband). It is however impermissible for one to attribute his lineage to someone besides his father. Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:  

عن علي بن أبي طالب قال قال زسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم من ادعى على غير أبيه فعليه لعنة الله و الملائكة والناس أجمعين لا يقبل الله منه يوم القيامة صرفا و لا عدلاً رواه مسلم (1/495)

“The one who attributes his lineage to somebody other than his father, the curse of Allah Ta’aala, the Malaaikah and all the people will fall on him. None of his deeds will be accepted on the day of Qiyaamah.”

And Allah Ta’ala knows best.

Answered by:

Mufti Zakaria Makada

Checked & Approved:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)

This answer was collected from MuftiOnline.co.za, where the questions have been answered by Mufti Zakaria Makada (Hafizahullah), who is currently a senior lecturer in the science of Hadith and Fiqh at Madrasah Ta’leemuddeen, Isipingo Beach, South Africa.

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