Converts Dawah (Outreach) Islamic Studies

Changing a New Muslim's Name: Custom or Religious Practice?

Balancing Arabization SeriesPart I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII Part VIII Part IX

Issue #4 – Changing the name of a new Muslim

It was the summer of 1999 in Tulsa, OK, when I walked into a sandwich shop. My pants sagging and hat turned back and to the side, I looked at the seemingly Greek guy behind the desk and said, “Let me get a Gyro with extra sauce yo.” After I sat down waiting for my sandwich, I heard the guy answer the phone with As-Salamu `alaykum (Islamic greeting of peace) and thought, “Wow that Greek cat is Muslim.” You see I had been reading the Qur’an for over a year and believing it to be the message of God, yet heavily struggling with a corrupt lifestyle. I had only met 3 Muslims before, but they didn’t practice hence they don’t even know where a Mosque might be. So when I went to get my Gyro I told him As-Salamu Alaiakum. He looked me up and down and asked, “Are you a Muslim???” I quickly affirmed confused by his question “Yeah man, can you hook me up with a Mosque around here?” He had no clue what a Mosque is but after I explained, he said that they had just opened a nice newly built mazjid and he gave me directions. So then I asked him if many Greeks are Muslim and he said, “I’m not Greek I’m Syrian!” That was the first time I had ever heard of Syria in my life.* There is a lot to learn from that event, primarily that we need to step up our da`wah (call to Islam) skills folks!*

So the next day I went to the Mosque around 1pm. I walked in and—thanks to the disorderliness we often have—I noticed a pair of shoes sitting in front of the doors to the Prayer Sanctuary (musalla). So I took off my shoes and saw a man praying and went in and did my own form of prayer which I learned from the scene where Denzel is praying on his Hajj pilgrimage in the movie Malcolm X. Then as I was walking out, the elderly gentleman followed me and made salaam (Islamic greeting) to me and I responded. He then asked if I was Muslim and I affirmed. Then he asked me, “What is your name?” I told him my name is John. He responded, “No, no. That’s not a Muslim name. That is a name of the kuffar (disbelievers).”  I was like whaaat? He said yeah that is not an Islamic name. So I told him that John originally means “God is gracious” and it is the name of Jesus’ cousin who is a Prophet mentioned in the Qur’an, but he said, “No, his name is `Esa and his cousin is Yahya, so your name is Yahya.” I thought okay this guy is hardcore, man, taking it back to the original…

Since that day, I have been called Yahya among my Muslim brothers and sisters. It is a beautiful name that I don’t mind being called by, but as we mentioned before it wasn’t the exact name of the prophet who was Jesus’ cousin nor was عيسى  (`Esa) the name by which Jesus was called. John was more like Yohanna (( and Jesus more like Yeshu’a  (( . So after realizing that this is just an Arabization of their names to facilitate the Qur’an’s Arabic flow I regretted having changed my name since it now seemed Islamically logical to have kept my name in English for the flow and familiarity of English. Let’s now discuss the issue of changing your name from an Islamic legal perspective.

The vast majority of scholars throughout our history say that it is an obligation to change a name only if it represents other, polytheistic beliefs or if it is a foul name with a bad meaning. For example if someone’s name was Christian then upon becoming Muslim they would change their name. The customary practice of encouraging a new revert to Islam to change their name is not an Islamic teaching as the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) left mostly all of his companions with common names that carry little or no meaning like `Umar, Talhah, Khadeejah, etc. Some of these people with very simple names became great leaders. As a matter of fact Salman is a Persian name and while the Prophet ﷺ witnessed his embracing Islam and spent much time with him, he never suggested Salman radi allahu `anhu(may God have mercy on him) change his name. He only changed the names which were either indicating the worship of other than God or a name that was a bad meaning like the following:

  1. ‘Aasiyah (sinner) to Jameelah (beautiful)
  2. Abdul-Shams (Slave of the sun) to Abdul-Rahman (Slave of the Merciful God)
  3. Haram (forbidden) to Halal (permissible)
  4. Thalim (oppressor) to Rashid (rightly guided)
  5. Harb (war) to Muslim (committed to God)

In retrospect, after being trained in the Islamic sciences and objectives, I have come to realize that this brother who sought to change my name was no doubt sincere, but ignorant of the big picture of Islam in America. This settled in when I was sitting with a sheikh (scholar) in Egypt who asked me my name. I told him Yahya to which he responded, “That can’t be your name!” I was like, “Eh al-Kalam dah?” (What is he talking about?) So I tried to explain how that is my Islamic name. He responded, ghalat (you’re mistaken). He then went on to give two reasons why I should have not changed my name and why I should return to John.

  1. Islam teaches the utmost respect and honor for ones parents—Muslim or not. This is clear in the many verses of the Qur’an which command us to do so and some of them specify that the only exception is in obeying a parent’s call to an evil lifestyle. Changing your name not only erases and invalidates their very first interaction with you as parents, but gives the idea of you splitting from your family which can be perceived as breaking the ties of the womb.
  2. As long as your original name’s meaning isn’t contrary to Islam then it would be in the best interest of promoting our faith (da`wah). When people see that Matt, Dave, Robert, Sarah, Lisa, Emily, etc, are Muslims whose language and general customs are similar to them it takes away that “Islam is a foreign religion” vibe we often give off. This in light of the hadith (record of the words or actions of the Prophet ﷺ): “Facilitate things for people and don’t make things difficult for them. Give glad tidings and don’t alienate people,” (Bukhari 69).

Of course for someone who has been known to many people by a name for some time it would be a hassle to change it back. The fact is that, as the Sheikh said, my mother was indeed somewhat offended and told me that “my brothers” can call me what they want, but that she will always call me John. It is no one’s business what a person chooses to be called as long as it carries a good meaning. The advice of this article is that it is not part of the sunnah (prophetic tradition) to change someone’s name as a result of their embracing Islam. If someone,of their own accord, wishes to change their name, then that is their right, but don’t encourage it as the benefits are there for them to keep it. And God knows best!

About the author

John (Yahya) Ederer

Imam John Yahya Ederer left a life of spiritual decadence and embraced Islam in 1998. In 2002, he accepted a scholarship offer from the Islamic American University in Michigan and spent 6 years travelling the Muslim world studying with prominent scholars. He attained an associates with IAU, a certification of mastery of the Arabic sciences from the ministry of education in Egypt, a diploma in Islamic Studies from the Cordoba Institute in Kuwait and a license with one of the highest chains of transmission in Qur’an memorization and recitation. He served as the Religious Director of the Islamic Foundation of South Florida for two years and now lives with his wife and two children in Charlotte, North Carolina where he serves as Imam of the Muslim American Society. He currently sits on the clergy board of one of the largest interfaith coalitions in Mecklenburg Ministries and is a board member of the Shamrock Drive Development Association.


  • As Salamu Alaikum,

    Jazak Allahu khairan akhi, much needed. I’m starting to see a change nowadays with this, converts realizing they don’t need to change their name, dress and way they move to be good Muslims, and I think we’re all the better for it, insha Allah 🙂


    • Do I have to have a ‘Muslim’ name?
      BY K_M123 – MARCH 11, 2012

      Since I am a Muslim, is it obligatory for me to have a Arabic, Muslim name? Am I obligated to change my English or Spanish name? Shaykh Abdullah Ali responds to this interesting question from one of our readers.

      Question: I have a question regarding Muslims changing their entire name after coming into the faith of Islam. Is this permissible? I understood that to change your first name is okay, but to change your last name is not permissible. I am African-American and I have talked to several Muslims who all say that since you are African-American and your people were robbed of their names
      and religion you are allowed to change your last name and select an Islamic name. Even those that are second, third generation Muslims when their parents became Muslim they changed their last names. So why cant we change ours? I have two children whom now carry my last name now, and I am bothered that I may have made a mistake in giving them my last name.

      Shaykh Abdullah’s response:

      Islam does not consider it an obligation for any new convert to Islam whose mother tongue is not Arabic to change it to an Arabic name or other language. Rather, it is only highly recommended for one to do so when the meaning of one’s name is something offensive or overly presumptuous in sound, like one indicating that one is pure or the like. During the Prophet Muhammad’s (saws) time, he changed the names of a number of women whose names were too pious sounding, like the name Barra (ultra-pious). Often he changed their names to Zaynab or the like such as Juwayriya (his wife). A number of men, like the companions known as ‘Abd Al-Rahman b. ‘Awf and Abu Hurayra (whose name was changed from ‘Abd Shams to either ‘Abd Allah or ‘Abd Al-Rahman) were also changed from those given to them at birth, since they indicated servitude and bondage to created beings or people. The father of the Tabi’i, Sa’id b. al-Musayyab refused to changed his name from Hazn (harsh in disposition) upon the urging of the Prophet. Consequently, his character was adversely affected.

      As for last names, the Arabs of the early period did not have last names. Rather, their last names were connected to tribal affiliations or titles attaching them to certain tribal or regional sectors, like Qurashi, Khazraji, Makki, etc. Imam al-Bukhari, the famous hadith master and historian’s real name was Muhammad b. Isma’il. Al-Bukhari simply indicated the part of Persia he came from: Bukhara. The same can be said for all the other famous scholars. This same trend can be detected in the European and other traditions (although I plan to exhaust more research on the matter) such that last names that are familiar today originate in some sort of occupation, tribal affiliation, or regional ascription. Names like Johnson, Anderson, Jackson, Williamson, Fredrickson, Henderson, etc. originally was a way to say “son of John, son of Ander, etc.” The name, Black, may have originated from the word “Blacksmith”, and then shortened for brevity. Imam Abu Hamid’s own last name Al-Ghazali (or Al-Ghazzali) originates from the “spinner and seller of wool”, since his father was a poor wool merchant. So, in the end, you have not done anything inappropriate by giving your children your last name unless they are not biologically yours.

      And Allah knows best( I copied and paste this article and this are not my word but I 100% agree with this article and completely disagree with other opinions!We received European first middle and especially the Surnames everyone wants Africans in Diaspora in America to remain slaves mentally I’m not the one!I have only one Master Allahu Subbana wa Ta’ala!

  • Jazakallahu khairan Sh. This is a much needed article. I am still surprised when someone makes shahada and the first thing the witnesses ask is what is their new name.


  • “Facilitate things for people and don’t make things difficult for them. Give glad tidings and don’t alienate people.”
    SubhanAllah the above hadith just sums up everything so well, esp for Muslims in America! I love meeting American converts who are still American.. It just brings about this awe of Islam that other religions don’t have.
    I love your series, very eye-opening. JazakAllahkhair John!

  • Muslim communities are Arab obsessed. Its like, Christianity is a white supremacist religion and Islam is an Arab supremacist religion.

    It just totally makes me regret converting to Islam, feels like I was lied to about so many things. The status of women in Islam, shariah law, permitted intolerance of those struggling with belief, bogus fatwas and the hadeeth which was formed in the same manner as the bible therefore full of contradictions and full of “disputes” just likee iin Christianity. The only thing perfect about Islam is basically the quran but you can be Muslim on the word of God alone apparently you need the hadeeth and fatwas which use some of the same story telling methods as the bible which muslims totally slam when makinh dawah.

    The Muslim community is nationalist and plagued with colorism. They are quicker to accept the conversion of a white or latina woman for marriage because she can “pass” as arab with her light skin but forget darker skinned asians and black women.

    I wish Muslims would start telling the full truth of Islam not just the bits that look/sound good. People say “These things are not allowed in America” but theyre allowed in Saudi Arabia and thats where Mecca is! Its all about politics, concerning polgyny, zabiha,slavery & female equality, your religion shouldnt be specified to what country you’re in. Go to Sudan/parts of Africa where Muslims make millions inslaving blacks, “abd” and “insan aswad” are used interchangeably and its permissible because it is better to inslave a non-arab in Islam than it is an arab.

    I thought God made the rules yet there is a panel of men who are products of a sexist/racist environment who give the verdict on issues in the daily lives of Muslims. Rich men at that, men who are struggling with sins themselves and you guys give King James crap for creating a religious panel to make theological decisions?! Its the same thing! I wonder what happens to those who disagree with a particular ruling or fatwa?

    Excuse my typos, I have to head to work.

    • Salam Convert,

      I am a Muslim too, and I totally feel you. I was born Muslim and am Iranian. I have been a Shi’a Muslim my whole life and as I’ve gotten to better understand my own religion and my co-religionists, I better understood that Islam is submission to Allah, and not to his creations.

      It is true that Arabs give non-Arabs a hard time for a variety of reasons (and I have been at the receiving end of these discriminations) but every time I think about these things, I realize one thing. Islam is submission to Allah. You might feel that some Muslims may have lied to you during Da’wah, but you should always remember that when you accepted Islam, you didn’t do it for them, you did it because your heart told you this was the truth.

      My point is not to sow discord amongst us as Muslims, Shia, Sunni, Sufi, etc. My point is that Islam is not about Muslims. No matter how hard Muslims and everyone else wants you to believe that it is. Islam is submission to God. You accepted Islam because God teaches through His Quran that He is One, without father nor son. That He should be worshipped and submitted to. That to live your life like the Prophet is to live your life in the best way. If you have difficulties with what the Quran or hadith say about the belief in the oneness of God or that He send His prophets to remind us of Him, then I would say, yes this is worth a second look. Everything else is just a “salesman’s technique.” Listen to your heart. It seems to me like your heart is pure because of your utter disgust with hypocrisy, discrimination, and racism/sexist. But always remember that if you do a thing to impress a people, those same people will lead you to regret your action. It is better to act with God in your heart and God in your mind.

      Read about what the Prophet (PBUH) has said in regards to racism or sexism. Read about how the Prophet stood and offered his daughter, Fatima (PBUH), his seat whenever she would enter the room. Read about God’s true messenger, because looking at God’s other Muslims is sometimes just too sad. Just as it is sometimes heartening to see some of God’s other worshippers (Christians, Jews, etc) in their sincere submission to Him.

      As-salaamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      • Salaams Ali what beautiful words you have offered here. I understand what the writer was saying; this has been my experience also but I totoally agree with what you have offered here. Islam and being Muslim is about our personal relationship with Allah no-one else. I think that when other muslims are busy telling us what to do they are not looking at themselves. We always must return to our own hearts and within the heart of Allah externals matter little.
        Salaam and Blessings!

      • Asalaamu Alaikum. I am a new convert and I have to admit that the comment prior to yours had me a bit shaken. However, your perspective spoke directly to my heart reminding me of precisely WHY I converted.

    • As’salamwalaikum ‘convert’.

      ‘Ali’ gave some poignant examples in his comments post; let me sincerely share my words as well.

      Your comments included…” The only thing perfect about Islam is basically the quran but you can be Muslim on the word of God alone apparently you need the hadeeth and fatwas which use some of the same story telling methods as the bible which muslims totally slam when makinh dawah.”. The true sentiments you shared are the important backbone to acknowledge; the backbone isn’t how some “Muslims” display their own self serving version 2.0 of Islam. The backbone you mentioned is the perfection of the Quran.

      It can be a tedency to not only draw conclusions from the sample set of personal experiences with people; but also to draw conclusions from observations of what others have said and have experienced. Unfortunately those experiences and observations aren’t always the best; nor accurate.

      You make mention of the Hadith; it’s important to remember that the Hadith are drawn from the Quran’s guidance. It’s most important to remember that the Quran wasn’t just revealed for and to Muslims…but rather as a message to all of mankind and humanity (irregardless of faith or lack thereof).

      Anyone can label themselves the product of “Muslim”, “Christian”, “Hindu”, “Jew”, etc…but product labels don’t correlate to the authentic/real thing…think of a “Rolex” watch bought on Canal Street in NYC; it still says Rolex on it…however there’s still the ‘but’ attached to it.

      Painting broad strokes saying that the “Muslim community” is so and so way ascribing the negative experiences (which probably truly were negative) to the faith as a whole…is skewed and inaccurate. HOWEVER; let’s say hypothetically there was only ONE Muslim left in the entire world that truly lived in accordance to Allah swt’s guidance (which would run contrary to all the unfortunate experiences/example you mention in your post)…that still has no bearing on the validity and TRUE guidance of Allah/Islam). The flawed application of particular “Muslims” according to “THEIR ISLAM”…isn’t and shouldn’t be indicative of the lack of validity of Islam’s teaching being pure.

      You should not draw regret from Allah’s creation’s actions…because then you’re benchmarking your way of life (as Islam is a way of life) off the flaws of the walking knock-offs of the geuine thing; and not benchmarking it off the creator’s guidance.

    • assalaamu alaykum convert,
      i can totally understand where you are coming from. but as the saying goes “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”. humans are humans. we are not perfect. whether we are muslim, christian, jewish, hindu, buddhist, etc. we fall short of the glory of God. being from the u.s. and having lived in the middle east now for almost 3 1/2 years, i see so many problems in society here that- if people were following the sunnah and obeying Allah’s commands, would not exist. it is very frustrating. you are a muslim because you believe Allah is One, the Qur’an is the Word of God, Muhammad (peace be upon him) is Allah’s last Messenger, the Last Day, Heaven, Hell, and angels. what is important is your belief and you obeying Allah as best as you can- including enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong. don’t let the shortcomings of others cause you to slide off the straight path onto a path to the hellfire.

  • Mashallah, this was a very interesting and important post. I love how you mentioned the two reasons why Muslim reverts should keep their original names. I think that they were both truly valid reasons!

  • hi i loved reading this i converted about a year ago i live in the uk and do not know any muslims in my town so am learning from books and friends i have made online i have been asked twice in a week why i ave not changed my name [ lorraine] but i just have not felt the need and as im the only muslim i know for me it is better to keep the name i have and reading this has helped me feel better about that

    • Subhanallah, what a great article, i’ve often wondered when i’ve come across reverts why they hav’nt changed their name, glad i read this. Jzk for sharing knowledge, and to Lorraine , Welcome to Islam, may Allah subhan wa ta’alla guide you and us through this journey. Ameen

  • When I converted 20 years ago, I changed my name for business and social settings but not on my taxes and drivers license. Post-9/11, I was given a test: Should I abandon my Muslim name and ‘pass’ to avoid discrimination? For 10 years I have resisted, but now I am tempted just to use the name on my ID with new business contacts. My heart is strangely neutral on this. Any thoughts?

    • Salam brother Ishaq,

      If changing back your name is solely for the intention to slide under the radar then it is not permissible. This is because no Muslim should slide under the radar and the practice of our faith is such that it would be clear to anyone who even began to know us would know that we are Muslim. It seems as though it would be better for Da’wa for you to be known as a Muslim who seems just as American as others, yet with a faith that clearly distinguishes you.
      For those who just meet you in passing it might be less akward too! They would be like this guy is Americna but his name is Ishaq??? Why don’t you just be Isaac? Everyone knows the Prophet Isaac (pbuh).

  • Alhamdulillah, I’m so glad someone addressed this issue! I like my name, Anne, and I think it is completely unnecessary for a convert to change their name to something “more Islamic” (i.e. “more Arab”) unless their name has a truly bad meaning. Even then, who says their new name has to be Arabic? I totally agree that Muslims having non-Arabic names makes Islam seem less Middle East-centric and more worldly. Heck, when I have kids someday (Insha’Allah), my name list includes both Arabic names and names like Esperanza (Spanish), Niyoosha and Niloufar (Farsi), and Daniel and Michael (Hebrew).

  • Actually, in more than 15 years, I’ve never read an article or heard a talk by anyone suggesting that converts have to change their names. Never read a fatwa stating this was a must. Never heard anyone tell me I had to do this. Not once. I’ve only ever read or heard the opposite – that converts do not have to change their names.

    I changed my name totally on my own because I read that it was recommended to change a name with a negative meaning, and my original name does have negative meanings.

    Yet I have been constantly challenged year after year for over a decade by born-Muslims (for want of a better term; I understand we are all born as muslim) and converts: why I changed my name, I don’t have to change my name, are you suggesting others must change their name, what was your original name (it is an unusual name and then I have to go into details about what it means and what are the negative implications), why and how did you choose your Muslim name, did someone make you choose your name, etc.

    Basically harassed into give a full accounting for the reasons why I chose to change my name.

    There are even born-Muslims who refuse to use my Muslim name and call me by my original first name. If I were non-Muslim, and I was known by a nickname and introduced myself with this nickname, I could rightfully feel insulted if someone insisted over and over again on calling me by my original name.

    In addition to the ubiquitous nickname, it is a known tradition in the West to change names, whether through marriage, adoption, professional reasons (the artistic world is replete with examples of this), and personal preference. Whole family names were altered for life when passing through the immigration process in this country. In certain communities there are formal Christian names, and then the informal names used with friends and family.

    Every year in school my kids have classmates who have their official given name on the class roster, and then the “real” name that they are called in class. My children navigate these name changes without the bat of an eye. I’m not sure why everything has to be made so difficult when it comes to Muslims exercising free choice.

    The point is, Muslims should respect each others’ choices – whether they choose to change their names or not — and stick to what most directly concerns them; their own names and their own choices.

  • Salam Alainkum,

    Great article mashahallah. One of the first stories I saw upon embracing Islam was about a Catholic girl who had become a Muslim, and her name was Katherine I think. When the interviewer asked her why she didn’t change her name, she simply responded “Because it’s the name my mother gave me,” and that became my reasoning for not changing my name. I was never pressured to change it because, as you can see, my name is technically Islamic (Aaron=Harun), it’s just in English. Now whenever someone asks me why I didn’t change my name, I give the same answer that girl gave: “It’s the name my mother gave me.”

  • Question…how about a convert whose birth name is “Christian”, “Teresa”, “Paul”, “Christina”, or “Peter” for example.

    Since those names are commonly associated with the Christian faith; and not associated with a language or culture per se…is it ok to keep those names still even after they’ve converted to Islam?

    • Christian, Paul for sure need to be changed whereas Christina would be iffy. There is absolutely no problem with Theresa or Peter.

      والله أعلم

      • I’m not sure who gets to decide which names are okay or not.

        Peter is “the rock on which the (Christian) church is built” and is the first Pope of the church.

        Perhaps someone with the name Peter would think that is a problem, and would like to change his name upon accepting Islam.

        Shouldn’t that person get to decide?

        Who appoints themselves cultural arbiters anyway? You mention the reaction of the Egyptian in your article. Learned or not, he is also heavily influenced by the Egyptian culture.

        When I was considering baby names for my yet unborn child, I was trying to find names that worked in both American and Muslim settings.

        But when my Egyptian friends of mine heard of my ideas — Adam for a boy, Hanna for a girl — they were aghast. These are Jewish names! When I suggested ‘Isa they were aghast — this is a Christian name! When I tried to argue that these were all Muslims names, they were very definite in their conclusions. When I offered out certain names of sahabiyat they started making fun of these names. Some still refer to me as a Christian, because my family is originally Christian. Families are “from” certain areas in Egypt, even though their families moved generations ago and they don’t have anyone residing in that area.

        This was over a decade ago, and I know that Egyptian youth are more open-minded nowadays. However, the fact remains that certain Muslim societies have very rigid social protocols regarding religious origins and things that disrupt that — name changes, changes in religion, marrying across ethnic lines, and so forth — cause extreme cultural anxiety.

        Americans, on the other hand, have fought long and hard in our society to have a healthy degree of cultural flexibility. We move around, we intermarry across ethnic, religious and racial lines, we eat cuisines from all over the world and love it, and we adopt new religions if we want, and new names – even weird names – if we want to.

        • I understand Christian and Christina, but I think Paul, Peter and Theresa are blameless. Though integral Christian people are named with those names, their meanings are still good and independent of them. Peter is from Petra, meaning rock. And Paul means little/small. I don’t know for sure what Theresa means, though. Otherwise, we’d have to drop Isa. And there are a lot of saints canonised by the Catholic church whose names are otherwise quite blameless and drawn from their native cultures, from which future Muslims might come.

          When my husband became Muslim, he did not change his name, since it was the name his mother gave him, and since it meant small, it reminds him that he is small beside God. Of course right now his faith is shaken, just like “convert”‘s post above, and we are going through a difficult time (please pray for him and for us). But what he said at that time of his conversion remains a true and good view.

      • Asalamu Alykum Br. John,

        While I enjoy your scholarship very much, I am replying to this 2 1/2-year-old article, to ask why you found the name “Paul” to be etymologically incompatible with Islam?

  • Everything I wrote about Islam is considered permissible and people do these things because they are considered permissible.

    I believe in one God but there are parts of Islam I know in my heart are wrong and they cannot be overlooked. I have put so much of myself into a religion where I will never be considered equal and it is extremely heartbreaking. A woman was raped by a family member and a fatwa was made stating that her husband should not continue to take her. This woman was raped! People get upset with women who debate in religious circles and what these women need to realize is that their issue is not with the “people” it is with Islam. They should either sit down and do what they are told or leave the religion because it is not going to change and they have little, if any rights at all.

    I was struggling with being single and began to consider marriage until I realized that no one was going to marry me because of the color of my skin. The idea of that scares the crap out of me. The idea that it is considered permissible in my religion scares me even more. The fact that true Islam and true christianity are not much different from each other means that I could have skipped the crap, remained christian and followed the bible (which makes no mention of the trinity) instead of the people (who follow trinitarian belief) since I am going to be told not to follow people anyway. That way I could have avoided the exclusion/ignorance in the muslim community and saved my once strong sense of self. Muslims are a deep and accurate reflection of Islam. You can say otherwise Yacub but Im sure you are probably both male and arab so Islam is in your favor.

    Stoning, hate towards gays, slavery, nationalism etc. ALL permissible in Islam. People want to overlook these things but they exist. They say ” We dont have to deal with these things because we don’t live in a Muslim country.” And my thoughts are… wait, you’re GLAD you dont live in a Muslim country and you’re a muslim!?!
    What’s wrong with the picture here?

    I love God with all my heart and all I wanted to do was be a part of a relgion that would foster that, Muslims spend more time focusing on a womans clothes than her Iman! Man made religions will always be flawed and inconsistent as is clear with ALL Abrahamic religions, people who continue to fight in the name of their religions which are essentially the same, just set in different regions and time periods. The Quran continuously references Arabia and Arabs, but this is a religion brought to people all over the world?

    I would like to know if I could worship God without religion (which is almost synonynous with politics) what if I could just love and serve God? Humans instintively know right from wrong, we can literally feel God watching and guiding us.

  • *synonymous etc.

    and I don’t mean to offend anyone I just want to do the right thing but right and wrong always seem to be mixed or contradictory and it’s just frustrating and its like, which way is the right way? How could anyone tell someone that things like slavery are Gods will and permissible? Are you serious?

    • @Convert, Wasallam, You’re not offending me at all, you are searching for knowledge which is our obligation as Muslims- mashallah. As you have stated The Quran is the perfection of Allahs’ message to us-nothing on earth trumps it.It clarifies the message that was sent down to all the Prophets(peace be upon them).The Quran even warns us of ‘muslims’ that will divert us from the straight path-remember that shaitan is our open enemy, and is within us all, pulling us away from true guidance. All of the points u have made show that you are truly guided by Allah because you are seeking understanding rather than blindly relying on what differing Imams and Madhabs dictate, Mashallah!We need more open discussions on these topics. Islam is not based on blind faith at all, instead its based on Truth backed by evidence. Shaitan has infiltrated Islam just like earlier faiths. Many Muslims even pray to Muhammad(pbuh) just like the christians pray to Jesus(pbuh)-instead of Allah. This is clear shirk IMHO! It amazes me that Muslims follow hadiths that contradict our pristine Quran! Islam has no race, no ‘one’ prophet or language and not only one book. The scholars will even tell you that most hadith are (false or unsound) innovations of shaitan(may Allah protect us all).
      Surah(An-Nur 24:2–9) mentions punishment for adultery or fornication but not stoning(that comes from hadith).
      As far as slavery goes in the Quran I have grappled with this also… I have found that slavery is a part of life, like it or not. Allah only recognizes that fact of life, but never encourages it- in fact the Quran clearly states that Allah is always with the oppressed, against the oppressors, and the freeing of slaves erases many many sins from our souls. If you’ve ever worked for a minimum wage, you’ll see that slavery is still alive and well today also in the form of riba(may Allah protect us).Plus the Quran clearly asserts equality between man and woman.
      Arabs have no monopoly over Islam(although many wish they do and think they do). Remember the Quran forbids all sects in the religion and yet Muslims spend more time bickering over trivial matters and over looking huge ones like shirk and bida.Allah promises us ,in Quran, he will forgive us all our minor sins and all we need to do is avoid the major ones. Man is an egotistical creature, the ego is where shaitan takes hold of our lives and deen with pride and arrogance(may Allah humble us). As far as this racism you speak of- it is true of many Muslims(may Allah guide them) racism is from shaitan and is totally haram!
      We are all equal as races of course…Although some hadith may say otherwise. Remember the hadith are filled with bida(innovation) so I take them with a ‘grain of salt’. All I need is the Holy Pristine Quran(alhumdulillah)- the most perfect book ever!I turn to scholars when I need advice on issues that are beyond my grasp of knowledge only, ALLAHU AKBAR! Where in the Quran does it say that we all must follow a madhab? It doesn’t, it says to follow Allah and the teachings of all the Holy Prophets.I hope you don’t let the ignorance of other Muslims repulse you from this religion and the book of light that Allah has given you the Iman to believe in and question with your intellect.Allah doesn’t hate sinners, rather he hates the sin, and teaches us to hate sin for our own protection from the hell fire and iblis.
      I myself am half arab and half brit/irish- stuck in the middle- and yes there is much distrust and friction from both sides of my family(may Allah forgive and enlighten them). I’ve learned we can’t judge Islam by judging Muslims in general- rather we should reflect on the Quran and Injeel and Torah with an open heart. Reverting to Islam is the best thing you could have done for yourself and your loved ones, don’t let the faults of our brethren misguide you!It seems alot of your frustration is from foriegn customs rather than Islam. Pray for guidance and you will see the clear path(inshallah).
      As you said we all have intuition and instincts that are from Allah, so we can tell right from wrong…ALLAHU AKBAR!(if anything ive stated is against the word of Allah, its from the shaitan and I seek refuge with Allah from the evil in my self).Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

    • Salaamo Aleikum Convert,
      I know where you are coming from. After converting I went through a lot of hardship when confronted by realities within the Muslim community that contradicted the beauty of the religion I chose to embrace. You wrote “everything I wrote about Islam is permissible” and then list some unjust, discriminatory CULTURAL behaviors of Muslims living in places like Saudi. Just because an Imam somewhere said a husband should leave his wife because she was raped DOES NOT mean that that is somehow permitted in Islam. Nor are fatwas compulsory on Muslims. Also, there are some GREAT Muslim countries. So don’t buy into the lie that they’re all, or even mostly, horrible. Look into Malaysia and Indonesia or the UAE. So many places in the Middle East are struggling under the weight of oppressive dictators and a lack of educational and economic opportunity. There are MANY Christian countries around the world coping with these same realities that also see high rates of marital abuse, oppression of women, discrimination and slavery. You’re looking for perfection in the creation, which doesn’t exist. Just because a person or a group of people are Muslim doesn’t mean that all the filth of dunya will suddenly be gone. Humans will always find a way to spoil the beautiful. Don’t confuse culture with true religion. Islam is a struggle. And as long as we’re struggling, we’re doing alright. Don’t leave Islam. To leave is to give in. Allah put his light in your life for a reason. Don’t let the sin and small-mindedness of others take you away from that.

  • Dear Convert

    I am so sorry for your hardships. I am a fellow female convert, converted 2 years ago.

    All I feel I can say to you is that just because Muslims do something doesn’t make it Islamic, even if it is done by a majority of Muslims in a Muslim country or at a mosque or in a law. Just because they say it’s acceptable in Islam doesn’t make it part of the teaching of Islam. You must separate people from the religion and focus on YOUR relationship with God, and learn from the Qur’an. Please don’t let any misguided societies impact your perception of the religion – that is like taking Fox news as the truth. There are people among ALL the religions (and lack of religions) who are not perfect, sin, lie, are corrupt, make up laws to their advantage, act as scholars but distort rulings according to their personal benefit or due to their own issues. This has nothing to do with the religion – this has everything to do with human weaknesses, and may they all some day (soon!) see the truth, their mistakes, right their ways, and be forgiven. I hope this gets easier for you. I don’t know where you live, but I hope you are able to build a positive, strong Muslim support network. I am glad you see what is right, and hope others gain that same insight, and that this world situation improves among all humans.

  • Assalmau alaikum. Great article. Alhamdulillah I’ve been Muslim since Nov. 2002 and I never changed my name. My thoughts on it are exactly what you hit on in the end.

    1) Abu Bakr, Khadija, Umar, Bilal etc. never changed their names, why should I?

    2) My parents gave me my name, they like it, I like it why should I alienate them even more by throwing away something they chose for me (since the meaning is not evil or shirk-y)

    3) I want my fellow people to be curious when they hear the name Jessi and see a woman who covers her hair and body. Who is this white lady and why is she dressed like a Muslim? I want them to clearly see that I CHOSE Islam. Yes, women actually do that (actually in greater numbers than men!) and Islam is not just for Arabs, it’s for all humanity.

    Great piece. May Allah reward you. assalamu alaikum

  • As’salaamolaikum to all. Rashid…you shared some great points, understanding and reminders in your post.

    Just as how shaytaan (aka iblees, the devil, lucifer) has done with whispering into the hearts of men of other people of the book (christians, jews) to the point where over time every other word in their scriptures has been changed/inovated from its original meaning and revelation…so to is shaytaan trying to do the same with Islam and Muslims.

    We as Muslims and a Ummah already have a barrage of misconceptions from non-Muslims based on what they see/hear of people that CALL themselves Muslims…we know better and know the truth. However how can we defend the truth to others/non-Muslims…if even the backwards actions of people who CALL themselves Muslims adversely affects the mindset of other Muslims (as ‘convert’ has expressed in the posts).

    It’s critical for a Muslim to not pin their belief system on the backwards actions/thoughts of others just because they too label themselves as Muslim. Because if youre pinning your way of life based on how others carry out their way of life in a misconstrued and misrepresented manner that truly goes AGAINST Islam’s guidance…you’re worshipping the CREATED; not the CREATOR. Islam is beautiful and is a message for not just Muslims…but for all of mankind.

    I hope everyone has a blessed day. As’salaamolaikum!

  • dear convert i can understand exactly how you are feeling,i am a Muslim women and a non Arab Muslim, the problem we have is that we think every Muslim is an Arab which is not true,also non Arab Muslims do something that are not permissible in Islam but they do it any because of who they are.first and for most believing in god has to be true in our hearts then we can deal with every thing else comes after,racism is every where.i am not a scholar but what we know is that bilal ibn rabah (r.a)was a slave he was also black ,he was married to a quresh women who were the most popular and strong tribe in Arab, if this is the teaching of Islam will it be OK? i think the answer is no, Islam makes sense in every step,so if you are OK with the Qur’an just reach it and it will help you to get through all your questions and you will have every thing you need and ask help if you need any, your local Masjid where you live.sheik yusuf Estes said i don’t believe i converted, the only thing i add my faith was to believe prophet Mohammad peace be upon him, so i am quoting this because you know the bible,Bible teaches what Qur’an teaches,its all from god and god is one. i hope and pray for you that Allah will ease your hardships and give you his blessing. open your heart believe in god and trust him. thank you hope i help

  • Asalamu Alaykum,
    I found that many reverts want to change their name to an Islamic one. I usually let them know that they don’t have to but it seems like an exciting thing! New religion, new name, like a nice way of starting over.

    Just one comment. My humble recommendation would be instead of saying the brother who sought to change your name was “ignorant of the big picture of Islam in America”, I would just say that he was “unaware”. That is much less harsh than ignorant. The prophet (SAWS) chose his words very carefully.

    Thank you for the article

  • Dear brother John, firstly I would like to thank you for delivering such a thoughtful writing. I’ve no arguement with what you’ve initiated the very article i.e. “Changing a New Muslim’s Name: Custom or Religious Practice” but the comments contributed by other brothers concerning your topic. This is our problem. We don’t focus to the point that has been raised/issued. Rather we love to talk eventhough it is irrelavent or beyond the topics. Yet I don’t mind as because we’re human: created with a brain in which God has given a natural power to justify between things/issues. But we should not debate any topic just for the sake of debate.
    Allah knows best.

  • I agree with all the points made in your article in favor of keeping your original name. I am from India, and almost all reverts to Islam change their names, often to Persian ones which were never the names of the first Muslims! This l feel is seen by non-Muslims as a rejection of their original culture and a way of distancing themselves from their community by accepting Islam. Rejection and choosing sides is definitely not the message we want to send across as Muslims living in a non-Muslim country.

    However, could there be a flip side to it? As Jessi said, seeing woman practicing hijab named Jessi makes people curious and sends out the message that she chose Islam (which is what she wants). It also gives her a chance to spread the truth. A white male living in the West (optionally) changing their name to a Muslim-sounding name would also intrigue people and raise questions about Islam, which would give him an opportunity for da’wah.

    While changing your family name is clearly discouraged, l don’t see much wrong with unofficially changing your first name as a way to reinvent yourself, if that is what you wish.

    • AA brother Takbir,

      I have found generally the opposite to be true. When a convert meets a fellow American non-Muslim and his or her name is now Abdullah or Khadeejah then that alienates that person and gives the idea that Islam is foreign and not American. When they meet James or Laura they are like OK normal American Muslims. Maybe I can join. My kids are named after Qur’anic Arabic words that are compatible with english. Aside from us naming kids by the english rendering of Prophets what if we named them names like Servant of God. Someone will ask them your names servant? And they respond yeah the servant of God. Now thats Da’wa. or say name our child gentle, gracious, mercy, beauty, wisdom, love, kind, brave etc… That would be Da’wa

  • When I embraced Islam I was happy to stay as Robert, however some people in my local masjid would try and give me an ‘Islamic’ name against my will. They decided that I deserved it after embracing Islam, so would start calling me Rabee’ since it sounded similar to Robert. I told them that I didn’t want that name, if I were to get a new name I’d want one with meaning, not just something that sounded like my old name, because if I really wanted something that sounded like my old name then I would just keep it!

    Eventually they started calling me names with nicer meanings and Ahmad began to stick with some of them. I really could not understand what the fascination with my name was.. Every time I’d walk into the mosque that small group would spring up, so eager to impose this new name on me.

    In the end I gave in and told them that if they really insisted on calling me something other than Robert, that I always loved the name Musa, not just because it sounds cool but because of the story of Musa that I could relate to so well. Of course they gleed with delight and began from then onward introducing me to everyone as Musa. The problem however was that I was and still am Robert outside of Islamic circles and I’ve ended up with this weird thing where I introduce myself differently to a person depending on who they are or how I know them. There is always that brief pause where I have to evaluate the person I’m meeting to decide whether it will be Musa or Robert, or even both!

    Its interesting to see how many other converts deal with the phenomenon of having 2 names and how sometimes it builds 2 identities that the person can relate to. One name that is linked to a certain group of people and surroundings and another for a different set of people and surroundings. I’ve settled into Musa well enough and long enough that its here to stay, though I have no intention of changing my name legally. I do love the asset of having a familiar-sounding name when speaking to non-Muslims as well as having the name Musa when among Muslims. Do any other converts have this 2-name situation going on?

    Also regarding the name Christian I have always pondered upon this regarding its permissibility. It is true that the name is without doubt going to be linked to the religion that is called Christianity in English, however the actual meaning of it is not bad it means follower of Christ. Allah knows best, this is why the ‘Christians’ are never called Christians in the Qur’an nor by Hebrew-speaking Jews, they are referred to instead as Nazarenes (Nasara in Arabic and Nosrim in Hebrew). Therefore the only issue with the name is how people will perceive it and whether or not the perception is likely to lead people to assume the person is a non-Muslim or to another bad thing. I’d love to see the thoughts of some western-raised shuyookh on this matter as I tend to lean to the belief that the name is permissible though admit that in some places it may not be if the name would imply something negative to those who hear it.

    • When I was in the Dominican Republic, we had 3 Dominicans convert to Islam before I left. They were freinds and all 3 had the name Christian 🙂 I don’t know if they every changed their name.

  • Dear brother John, firstly I would like to thank you for delivering such a thoughtful writing. Mash’Allah, the two reasons why Muslim coverts should keep their original names .both are truly interesting and valid reasons, however, you need to ask yourself why is it that whoever encountered you asked you whether your a Muslim and your name? Muslims don’t have to go indentifying themselves by names they can easily be identified by body signs” the Noor” in the forehead, behavior, etc.

    secondly, you didn’t check the other side of gender, you as a Muslim man dressing ways is any mans dressing way, what about the dressing way of a Muslim woman, so if you were to be a none Muslim lady dressed in an Islamic way and greeted anybody with the real Asalam alaikum no one would ask you whether your a Muslim or your name!

    Thirdly, on ladies there is addressing code and men are fully responsible for their wives and on the day of judgment they shall answer on their responsibilities so if my wife’s dressing code is contrary to the Islamic teaching then am responsible, remember she is a convert as a result of our relationship that require my input and guidance.

    Fourthly, i quoted good reasons the sheikh (scholar) in Egypt gave on why a convert have not change your former name, however i imagine that both of you missed appoint also; e.g. we are all aware that worldwide some Muslims who are just Muslims by name tags take alcohol but imagine if your former school friend PAUL found you in the Bar taking Alcohol and indentified you by your names as Yahya, Yasini, Jamil, Muhmuud, Hajjarah etc how much dent would you have made on Islam visa-vee when he indentified you as John, yonnah,

    The question arises: what made those followers forsake the established beliefs, traditions and customs of their forefathers notwithstanding the risk of being totally alienated from their own community? The simple answer is: they made use of their faculties of mind and heart and realized the truth. Did they realize the truth through perceptual consciousness? Not so, as perceptual experience of life after death is impossible.

    Actually Allah has given man besides perceptual consciousness, rational, aesthetic and moral consciousness too. It is this consciousness that guides man regarding realities that cannot be verified through sensory data. That is why all the prophets of God while calling people to believe in God and life after death, appeal to the aesthetic, moral and rational consciousness of man. For example, when the idolaters of Makkah denied even the possibility of life after death, the Quran exposed the weakness of their stand by advancing very logical and rational arguments in support of it:

    So I believe that Islam has got no shortcuts, as converting to Islam is total submission to Allah, and it should be one’s pride as many wishes too but Allah has not granted them that; and i feel that converting to Islam there is no shame, so changing your name to an Islamic tag and next time your name and number would be added on the 1.6 billion world wide total number of Muslims where the likes of John, Peter, Patrick etc are not counted; and just figure out the confusion you would caused by your self on the day of Judgment when the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) shall be calling members of his Ummah by names one side and Jesus is also calling Christians by names on the other side just think of your self in a situation when such names of John, Joseph, Harrient, Richard are not red among the Umaah.better late than never.Insha’Allah

  • Assalamu alaykum,

    I just commented on names on the Part II article, before I saw this one. I think it’s fine for a new Muslim to keep his or her name (as long as it’s not something that’s not allowed) or to change it. I appreciate the ideas in the article, and I’ve always objected to converts being told they HAD to take an Arabic name… but I think this article goes a little too far in the other direction, telling them that it’s not good to take an Arabic name.

    Just for the record, I never felt like changing my name, which is Ann (the mother of Mary, according to the Bible, referred to as Hannah in Arabic Bibles).

    I converted and have lived ever since in Kuwait (never met you, though I heard of you, Brother), and only once in 18 years has someone actually told me that I should have changed my name. But I think that we should all remember that these people have good intentions. That doesn’t mean that they’re right or that you have to do what they say, but converts/reverts should keep in mind that they mean well and are trying to welcome you into the community.

  • Thanks for that article…I reverted several years ago….and have not changed my given name. First off to honor my Mother, also I like my name. Second Matthew was a follower of Isha(alaslalam) who was a Muslim. So to the above comment about Muhammad(saw) calling his Ummah on oneside and Isha (as) calling his on the other is mistaken because they are the Same Ummah (Muslim). Also to the Arab Muslims out there you aren’t the majority of Muslims in the world and haven’t been for about 700 years or so. 85-90 percent of all Muslims today are of non-Arab heritage. So “making “people take Arab ” Islamic” names is not part of the Sunnah of Muhammad(saw). Many Sahabbah didn’t change thier names. He did like to give “nick names” to his friends though. But only made name changes if they had names if meant bad things or if they named after other “gods”. If you want to change your name at revertion to Islam fine and if you.don’t that’s fine too. I welcome you to Islam either way. Salam Alakem.

  • On the Day of Judgement. You will not be judged on the Islamicness of your name but by your Deeds. May Allah grant us all Jenna Insallah.

  • i’ don’t want to be rude but saudi arabian culture is becoming a disgrace to non-arab muslims. saudi is supposed to be the land of the muslims but it feels like anything but that. their racism and sexism is not islamic but arab culture, people get this confused. pakistan for example had a female muslim president this would not happen in saudi because its not being run by pure hearted muslims like it should be. col gadaffi had an army with women and fed alot of poor black people even though he was a north african arab not a black man, the guy made a man made river in the heart of africa so the poor from all countries could drink clean water, in my opinion thats a true arab muslim looking after muslims regardless what country, race or sex they were. muslims are not always right just because they are saudi that is a big misconception. shaytan is in every language even in arabic im affraid.

  • I cannot thank you enough for this post.

    Firstly, i had converted purely for the religion, but when i wanted to marry my husband, i had to go through a formal conversion. Ther was no demand to change my name into a more islamic or arabic one. Thought it was kinda dumb, since my given name is already a popular name given to muslim girls. It has sentimental value to me in that my father who had passed away when i was a teen gave it to me.

    My father in law was somewhat insisting that i change my name or have another islamic name. I resisted. And now, he views me as someone who is not a “Muslim” or not following the Muslim way because of that. I couldn’t and would not insert another muslim name purely to make him happy because that would hurt my family.

    I further believe it is just a matter of presentation to the muslim world. Presentatin to anyone should not matter. You should feel comfortable with the name change, if you’re gonna go through it BUT you must always respect your parents and if they say no, you should not if there is nothing wrong with your name.

    Unfortunately for me, all this has made me question somewhatmy conversion tho i know the religion is faultless. It’s like what have i gotten myself into.

    • No one should force you to change your name sister if you don’t want to, and I hope you don’t feel as if you should in order to make your husbands family happy. As long as your name has a good meaning and doesn’t mean something bad, then there is no problem inshallah. Maybe explaining to your husband how you feel might help and he can talk to his father and help him understand? Its been a while since you posted, but I hope everything turned out okay.

  • Salaam, very interesting forum, i am new to Islam and converted a few months ago but i too am finding it hard to change my name on my birth certificate/passport medical certs etc, don’t get me wrong i like the name my wife suggested (Adam) and will eventually change my name from Stephen to Adam but is Stephen permissible in Islam ?

    • Was-salaam, Steve.

      I see you haven’t gotten a reply. Probably because this is an older article.

      I would recommend you get this checked from a shaykh.

      Meanwhile, find out what your name means and see if it could be anything bad.

      May Allah guide you, me and all Muslims. Aameen.


  • I think Stephen is ok, nothing unislamic about it. Also it shows people that Islam isn’t for just one race and one language but for all races all languages, for everyone. I love it when I see someone that people stereotypically think aren’t Muslim and the look of surprise when they find out that they are! Born Muslims sometimes have a know it all attitude and will try and impose their brought up religious traditions which in some cases have no real basis whatsoever. You can leave your name on all your certificates and just ask to be called Adam as a “house” name by your wife etc. Many south Indian Muslims have a legal written name and then a “pet” name that everyone knows them by, so no worries brother! Remember Allah wishes ease for you!

  • Salam

    I agree with the article, except the part “left mostly all of his companions with common names that carry little or no meaning like `Umar, Talhah, Khadeejah, etc.”, which sort of left me offended, since I am sure they do have some meaning.

    I also strongly agree that last names should not be changed, because they indicate where we are from, in fact I think it may even be Islamically wrong to change them. But for first names, I guess in some situations, like people with names that are more associated with a particular religion (like Christians all over the world may use the name Paul etc.) should consider changing their name. Off course it does not have be the first thing they do after converting, but one way you can tell if a person is Muslim is by their name. Beard and head covering may not be such a good indicator since some other cultures encourage them too. Or you can either wait for them to say salam or use inshaAllah etc.

    For instance, in South Asian culture, it might be hard to tell if the person is Muslim, since hijabs and beards are not a norm, one way of telling would be by asking their names.

  • Assalamu alaykum, I have been a Muslim for a year now. I am thinking of marring a Muslim man, but he wants to change my name and my son’s name. My name is michelle and my son’s name is Lucas. I like my name and it is the feminine name for the angel Michael. The angel Michael is in the Quran and so I do not think I should have to change it. My daughter named my son and I like his name. I would like your opinion. Thanks

    • There is no harm in keeping these names. Allah will not ask you about your Muslim names in life hereafter. Allah will ask you about your deeds on the Day of Judgement. So as long as you practice Islamic teachings, you are a good Muslim.

  • Assalamu aleikum.. Thanks for this article it has helped me better understand a few things. I’m kind of on the verge of converting.. I feel that I am a Muslim in beliefs but I don’t really know too much about the traditions and prayers and stuff like that. Anyway I recently had a baby and I named her Delilah. Over the past few days I’ve had something urging me to change it. I think I’ve found the perfect name for her too, which is a Muslim name. And I also have this same urge about my middle name which I looked up the meaning and found out (Louise) actually means fame and war or fame in war. I’m not sure whether it’s just my feelings wanting to choose a name with better meaning, or maybe it’s actually God guiding me to.. but as I read this article before I found out the meaning of Louise, I’m feeling quite convinced that God is wanting me to do this. My first name is not an Islamic name but I don’t feel this urge to change it… just curious as to what others thoughts were on this that it may actually be God that encourages it to be changed ??

  • from reading many of these comments I can see I am not the only one feeling discontent, unhappy and completely saddened by the “muslim community” as a whole. Converts are on a whole other level. People from Muslim countries have lost the dream and the beauty of Islam.
    I wish I would have learned about this site much much earlier. A nice article that is thought provoking. The comments are just as challenging and much needed

  • Assalamu alaykum,

    I have just recently changed my surname from Khan to Kahn.
    I am a proud Muslim but changed my name due to people questioning and causing me problems
    I am a white German male who was luckily adopted by a muslim family who i lover very much. I changed it to kahn thinking it was German and also sounded like Khan.
    Its come to my attention that Kahn is actually a Germaised Jewish name (variation of Cohen)
    I am so confued and dont know what to do??
    Should i change it back to khan and feel uncomfortable because of rascium an be worried about my unborn child having the same problems as me or should i keep kahn? Which is unfortunalty a Jewish surname…..

  • you said (Islam teaches the utmost respect and honor for ones parents—Muslim or not. This is clear in the many verses of the Qur’an which command us to do so and some of them specify that the only exception is in obeying a parent’s call to an evil lifestyle. Changing your name not only erases and invalidates their very first interaction with you as parents, but gives the idea of you splitting from your family which can be perceived as breaking the ties of the womb.)

    my muslim name has pained me beyond belief, i live in the west my name is ridiculable to those with simple christian names!!! i live in west yorkshire now imagine having your muslim name shouted out at the doctors surgery on a loud tannoy speaker in a yorkshire accent in front of an audience of white people with names like david, michael, davidson etc etc the muslim name is blurted out over tannoy MAH’MOOD!!!
    MAH’BOOB or MAH’SOOD, BASHARAT, IQBAL, PERVAIS, SADAM, none of those are my names infact G-d has left me with a scapegoat not that i need one i’m the king messiah! i choose my own name regardless of my parents naming me mahamand that’s right my birth certificate has spelling mistakes mahamand kadeer sujawal are you serious hold on are you serious infact i could burst into tears right now!!! my 35yrs of life ive walked around bright red faced with embarrassment not just with the name but also the relentless lack of integration into english culture by my family, mahamand kadeer sujawal, first of all Mohammed is a prophet’s name when spelt properly! Kadeer is an attribute to G-d it’s illegal, sujawal isn’t even a name! what were my grandparents thinking honestly!!! my name when i can afford to change it by deed poll is Michael Mohammed Solomon G-d know’s this has always been my true name and guess what it’s not the hebrew jewish version or the muslim arabic version but it’s from the most detestable group english christian, i hate christians but this name i would be proud of in any country i’d enter. your telling me john that i must suffer a name that makes me more uncomfortable than anything else in the world? in that case if you were and anyone who support’s you then G-d willing i shall surely cast you into permanent hell fire myself!!! tell me do you outrank me the king messiah will you offer me the king messiah an alternative name to what i wish and will? G-d willing i would surely cast you into hell fire. you best watch what your insinuating!!! now i’m going to bed really pissed off! my name is Michael Mohammed Solomon remember it!

    ive come to realise you can believe in G-d and worship G-d without suffering something there is no need to suffer for ps i mean no offence to the muslim names i mentioned above but they’re not exactly befitting other than in muslim countries, my name Michael Mohammed Solomon is a universal name so be it.

  • Thank you for this. We had a hard time after our marriage- I’ve been Muslim since birth and my husband converted. My dad wanted him to adopt a Muslim name but only ones he approved. we gently refused and even talked to an Imam to see if it was necessary.

  • My advice to anyone considering changing their name is to think long and hard. Weigh the pros and cons. Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor changed his name to Kareem Abdul Jabbar after converting to Islam. The name change can signify re-birth and renewal and reflects the new values you have embraced. There is nothing wrong with that, nothing at all. I don’t believe it reflects cutting ties with your family. (Besides, if you come from an abusive dysfunctional family that possibly cut ties with you then changing your name based on your new faith and values is not ethically or morally wrong). The notion of cutting ties with family is an Arab notion that in my view does not apply to Americans in 21st century America. I am diametrically opposed to embracing Arab culture in any way, shape, or form. But, the name change is a not only a reflection of re-birth and renewal but it is a reminder. A reminder of who you want to be and the faith based values you want to uphold. Therefore, changing the name is not a problem, but it is welcomed with joy.
    The negative aspect is one that the majority of “muslims” work to avoid and that is the anti-muslim sentiment that is highly prevalent in the America. This needs to be seriously considered before changing your name. I can give you an example of someone who had changed his name legally two years after converting to Islam. That person is me. Yes, I did it, I took the plunge and changed my name completely, much like Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor did. I did it because I loved my faith in God and the Koran. I wanted to live as a muslim. I was not ashamed nor frightened. I believed in the decency of my fellow Americans. What I discovered was hatred and racism. I experienced it on all sides even from “muslims”. Many a muslim called me “stupid” and “dumb”. Many a muslim after learning I had changed my name shook their head and looked down in disgust. I learned quick that the muslim community is not about faith in God, it’s about culture and money. And, it hurt job opportunities. No one will respond to your resume or job application. (well, not enough to give you hope) So, before considering changing your name think long and hard, weigh the pro and cons and look deep inside yourself and ask yourself if you are strong enough to take the journey and face the experiences that come with the name change. I did but after almost losing everything I cut my losses and went back to my birth name. Not one muslim came to show me moral support and they will not show you any support either. Not one. It’s a lonely path to walk. You have been forewarned.

  • I am recent convert to Islam.however due to the nature of my busy studies in the university. I’m always do every islamic studies online with my laptop.
    Now I need a name. how do I go about it?

  • Assalamu alaykum,

    Beloved Brothers and sisters, regarding this topic I am in need of advice.

    For the past year or so I’ve been thinking about my name recently, Now every time I introduce myself to someone I’ve always introduced myself as Saahirah (Which means Moon and Ever flowing Spring) and even on formal stuff like email and even this website; I use this name.

    However my name given to me by my parents is Tanbir which has no islamic significance or meaning which is one of the reasons why I want to change this name, I am a muslim and have been since I was born but is it in the limits of the Shari’a to change my name so people are obliged to call me by a new name?

    Salaamu Alaykum

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