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Should I change my name to a Muslim name?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Qibla.com

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher

I recently got engaged, but as we get closer to the date of the nikah, the parents of my fiance are putting pressure on me to take a “Muslim name” because they are worried about what people in the community would think of the marriage. So far I have stuck with my birth-name of “Ian”, which is Gaelic for “God is gracious” and is also a dialectic form of “John” which is the Hebrew equivalent of the prophet Yahya. I have read in many sources that taking an Arab name is not wajib, and also my intent is to be able to relate more to people in the West when I make da`wah in the future in sha’Allah. I am hoping I can at least get a second opinion on this situation or some advice about what I should do.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah. May the peace and blessings of Allah shower upon our Beloved Messenger, his family, companions, and those who follow them.

Dear Brother,

You are perfectly entitled to keep your name. Ian is a fine name. As long as your name does not carry polytheistic connotations, and is a dignified, respectable name, then there is no problem with keeping your birth name. Don’t let your fiance’s parents pressure you.

Be polite, but firm, and tell them that you would prefer to keep the name your parents gave you. It needs to be understood that Ian, or John, or Susan, can be every bit as Muslim as Ahmad, Omar, and Aisha. Having an Arabic name does not make you a better Muslim.

As to what the community thinks, they need to give you the benefit of the doubt, instead of jumping to conclusions because you have a European name.

May Allah bless your marriage. And Allah knows best.

– Umm Salah (Zaynab Ansari)

Editor notes: It is praiseworthy (not obligatory) to adopt a Muslim name, but the choice of whether and when to do returns to the person themselves, and they should not feel pressured to do so simply because of what people say.


This answer was indexed from Qibla.com, which used to have a repository of Islamic Q&A answered by various scholars. The website is no longer in existence. It has now been transformed into a learning portal with paid Islamic course offering under the brand of Kiflayn.

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