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|Changing Name After Becoming a Muslim
I've always known it is not obligatory for me to change my name after I became a Muslim, and I know my name Christopher has its etymology or origin in Greek, meaning the Bearer of the Christ. Of course we know Christ means Jesus (pbuh). So, can I have the name 3isa as my Muslim name?
Praise be to Allah.
Names carry meanings, and every person will be influenced by (the meaning of) his name, in most cases. Man is required to call himself – or his children – by good names with good meanings, so that they will be influenced positively by their names.
Islam came to the Arabs and the non-Arabs, and it is not essential for a new Muslim to take an Arabic name, rather what is required is that he should not have a name that is ugly or carries a meaning that goes against Islam. Many Persians and Byzantines embraced Islam and kept their names, and did not change them. Indeed many of the Prophets had names that were not Arabic because they were not Arabs.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: Does a person who becomes Muslim have to change his name like George or Joseph etc?
He does not have to change his name unless it is a name that reflects servitude to someone or something other than Allah, but it is good to change his name to something better. So if he changes his name from a foreign name to an Islamic name, that is good, but as to whether it is obligatory, no it is not.
But if his name was ‘Abd al-Maseeh [= “slave of the Messiah”, a name common among Arab Christians; a similar name in English cultures would be “Christopher” -- Translator] or something of that nature, then he should change it, but if the name does not imply servitude to anything or anyone other than Allah, such as George and Paul, etc., then he does not have to change it, because these names are shared by Christians and others. And Allah is the Source of strength. Fataawa Islamiyyah, 4/404.
Ibn al-Qayyim said:
Because names have meanings, it is wise that there should be a proper connection between the meaning of the names and the object that is carrying the name. It should not be the case that the meaning is not suited to the object and there is no connection between the meaning and the object, because this is what is decreed by the Most Wise, and reality testifies to that. Indeed names have a great impact on the objects to which they are applied, and the objects that carry these names will definitely be influenced by these names, whether these names are good or ugly, whether they refer to meanings of lightness or heaviness, kindness or cruelty.” Zaad al-Ma’aad, 2/336
Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to change bad names to good ones. So, Naming 3isa is absolutely acceptable.
It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that a daughter of ‘Umar was called ‘Aasiyah (disobedient), but the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) renamed her Jameelah (beautiful). Narrated by Muslim, 2139.
And Allah knows best.
Question Date: 2010-02-02
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