Is it recommended to change one’s name after embracing Islam?
The general rule is that a new Muslim can retain his n ame and does not have to change it at all. In fact, the changing of names was not known among the Prophet’s companions, may Allah be pleased with them. Many people have embraced Islam and retained their non-Arabic names, unless the name has a bad meaning.
A name may be changed in the following cases:
- If it indicates servitude to other than Allah or has a meaning which contradicts Islamic beliefs:
Names which indicate servitude to other than Allah include ‛Abdul-Maseeh (slave of the Messiah), which is common amongst Arab Christians, and ‛Abd-un-Nabiyy (slave of the Prophet), which is common amongst some Muslims. This also include names which have a meaning that contradicts Islamic beliefs, suchas Shenouda (commonly used among Egyptian Christians ‘the Copts’ which means ‘the son of God’). Glorified is He, and High Exalted above what they say!
Names which indicate one of Allah’s attributes are not allowed either.
An example of this is to ascribe to someone an attribute which is completely unique to Allah, such as the title king of kings’.
- If the name implies something that is offensive or not approved of by people with sound moral values:
Indeed, Allah ﷻ has declared all bad things without exception unlawful; therefore, it is not appropriate to retain a name which carries a bad meaning after converting to Islam, as the Qur’an states, “Evil is a bad name after faith.” (Soorat Al-Hujuraat, 49:11)
It is recommended to change the name:
If the new Muslim name to be acquired is dear to Allah, such as ‛Abdullaah (slave of Allah) and ‛Abdur-Rahmaan (slave of the Most Gracious), or such names which indicate one’s servitude to Allah I. These are recommended names but have nothing to do with one’s acceptance of Islam.
- A new Muslim may change his name for no reason whatsoever, such as by changing his non-Arabic name to an Arabic name, but this is not considered recommended and has nothing to do with his acceptance of Islam.
- Does the meaning of the name contradict Islamic beliefs?
- Yes => A name which carries such a meaning must be changed.
- No => Does the name carry religious significance amongst followers of other religions?
- Yes => It must be changed to remove suspicions and avoid imitating non-Muslims.
- No => Is it offensive or not approved of by people with sound moral values?
- Yes => It is recommended to change it to a name which carries a pleasant meaning.
- No => If it does not carry any of the above-mentioned meanings, it does not have to be changed. In fact, many Muslims retained their non-Arabic names after their conversion in the early days of Islam. He may change his name for no reason whatsoever; it is recommended to do so if the new name is dear to Allah, such as ‛Abdur-Rahmaan (slave of the Most Gracious).