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Are Hyphenated Surnames Permissible?

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

My husband and I are expecting our first child. I have retained my fathers name since marriage and have no intention to change it. Does Islam allows for hyphenated last names (e.g. Ali-Yusuf), in a case where the mother’s last name is Ali and the Father’s is Yusuf?

Answer:Wa’alaykum assalam. Thank you for your question. Congratulations on expecting your first child. May Allah grant you ease and comfort during these early stages, and make your child a source of mercy and blessing for you both in this life and the next.

There is a difference in opinion in regards using a different surname other than one’s father’s surname. We shall mention these opinions first, before discussing the use of hyphenated surnames.

Changing Surnames

In the Shafi’i school, the general ruling on a wife adopting the husbands name, or a child adopting the mother’s name (as opposed to the father’s name) is not permitted. This is what all our teachers, in Yemen and Jordan, have stated.

This is based on the hadith, ‘You will all be called on the day of judgement by your names and your fathers names, so therefore keep good names for your selves’ [Abu Dawud, Musnad Ahmad], and, ‘Whoever ascribes himself to other than his father, knowing that he is not his father, then Paradise will be denied to him.’ [al Bukhari, Muslim]

However, in the Hanafi school, changing surnames in the above scenarios is permissible, as long as one is not negating their lineage. For a summary of the Hanafi position, one may read this answer, while for a detailed answer, one may read this answer.

Hyphenated Surnames

In regards the permissibility of hyphenated surnames, it appears that it would be permissible, since the father’s surname is still preserved. However, because it may be construed by others as one surname (or morph into one name at a later point), for clarity and precaution, you may want to use the names without hyphenation, so that the mother’s surname functions as a middle name, and the father’s surname as the distinct family name.

Difficulties in Mother keeping her family surname

Generally speaking, most people are free to choose whatever name they choose in Western countries, so a woman retaining her own family surname does not usually pose difficulties, even when travelling. However, as mentioned, the Hanafi position on this matter does exist, if one feels the need to utilise it.

And Allah knows best.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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