Islamic Rulings for New Born Babies >> 3. Naming the Newborn

Islamic Rulings for New Born Babies

3. Naming the Newborn

The Prophet (SAW) commanded naming a newborn on the seventh day:

Samurah Bin Jundub (RA) reported that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said,

“Every child is mortgaged with its aqeeqah, which is to be slaughtered for it on its seventh day. On that day, it should also be named, and its head should be shaved.” [1]

However, he also named some newborns soon after birth:

Anas (RA) reported that on the morning following the birth of the Prophet’s (SAW) son Ibraheem, the Prophet (SAW) said,

“A baby boy was born for me last night. So I named him with my father’s name, Ibraheem.” [2]

It is recommended not to delay naming the child beyond the seventh day.

Parents are encouraged to consult with people of knowledge when deciding on a name for their child. The father, as the leader of the family, has the first right to name the newborn. It is recommended, however, for the father to show kindness to his wife by taking into consideration her suggested names. They should choose the name carefully, ensuring it has a good meaning and has a pleasant utterance.

a) Recommended names

i) Names of Ubudiyyah:

Ibn Umar, Abu Hurayrah, Anas and others (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said,

“Indeed, the best and most beloved names to Allah are: Abdullah, and Abd-ur-Rahman. The most truthful names are: al-Harith (cultivator) and Hammam (planner). The ugliest are: Harb (war) and Murrah (bitter).” [3]

ii) Names with realistic meaning

Names that reflect good qualities, and do not humiliate or exaggerate the individual are beloved to Allah as well.

iii) Names of the Prophet Muhammad

Jabir, Abu Hurayrah and Anas (RA) reported the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said,

“Bear my name, but do not use my kunyah.” [4]

Jubayr bin Mutim (RA) reported the Prophet (SAW) said,

“I have several names:

1.   I am Muhammad (the often praised)

2.    I am Ahmad (the highly praised)

3.  I am al-Mahi (the eraser) because Allah erases disbelief by means of me

4.   I am al-Hashir (the gatherer) because Allah gathers all people after me on the Day of Judgement

5.    And I am al-Aqib (the succeeder) because there is no prophet after me.” [5]

Muslims should note that naming a child Muhammad is not obligatory. They should be aware of fabricated hadiths relating to this:

“Whoever is granted a baby boy and names him Muhammad for the sake of the blessing in this name, he and his newborn will be admitted to Jannah.” [6]

“Anyone who was granted three sons and did not name any one of them Muhammad has indeed acted ignorantly.” [7]

iv) Names of other Prophets

Naming children after the prophets is highly recommended as they were the best of creation and most righteous of humanity. This was also a practice among earlier generations. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW), himself named his son Ibraheem.

Yusuf bin Abdullah bin Salaam (RA) reported,

“The Prophet (SAW) named me Yusuf, sat me on his lap, and rubbed his hand over my head.” [8]

v) Names of righteous people

The Sahaba were the second best of all creation after the prophets. They were the inheritors of knowledge and goodness with tremendous benefit to mankind. It would be an honour for an individual to name his child after one of the prolific companions.

b) Ascribing the child to the father

Ascribing a child to other than its father is a major sin. Allah says in the Qur’an,

{Ascribe them to their fathers; it is more just in the sight of Allah. But if you do not know their fathers – then they are your brothers in religion and your allies.}
(Qur’an 33:5)

Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas and Abu Bakrah (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said,

“Anyone who relates himself to other than his true father, knowing that he is not his father, Jannah will be then prohibited for him.” [9]

Illegitimate children, however, may not be ascribed to their biological father even if the father is known beyond doubt:

Abu Hurayrah (RA) and more that twenty other companions narrated that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said,

“The child belongs to the owner of the mattress, and the adulterer deserves a stone, i.e. is a loser.” [10]

An illegitimate child belongs to the owner of the mattress on which it was conceived or to the legitimate husband of the mother at the time of conception, regardless of other claims or chances. This holds whether the concerned individuals were Muslim or not at the time of conception. In addition, the child conceived from zina to a free single woman carries her name.

c) Surnames

These have been introduced in recent times to differentiate between families and to keep track of family inheritance. However, the Islamic practice of ascribing oneself to his father should be continued eg: Muhammad Ibn Abdullah.

d) Bearing a kunya

A kunya is a term consisting of a term preceded by the word Abu or Umm. Often the name used is the bearers eldest child, but not necessarily so. It is recommended for a Muslim to have a kunya even without having offspring:

Aishah (RA) reported that she once said to the Prophet (SAW),

“O Allah’s Messenger, why do you not give me a kunya. He replied, ‘Take a kunya after your sister’s son Abdullah. So you are Umm Abdullah.’” [11]

It is a mark of respect to address an individual by his/her kunya.

It is not permissible to bear the Prophet’s kunya, Abul-Qasim:

Abu Hurayrah and Anas (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said,

“Use my name but do not use my kunya.” [12]

e) Prohibited names

It is prohibited to use the following names:

– those that express servitude to other than Allah eg Abd-ur-Rasool, Abd Ali

– those that describe Allah’s sovereignty eg ar-Rahman, al-Qayyum

– names of disbelievers, tyrants or other deviant individuals e.g. Shaytan, Firawn

f) Disliked names

Names with meanings of excessive self praise were disapproved by the prophet (SAW):

Sumarah bin Jundub (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said,

“Do not name your servant Rabah (winner) or Aflah (successful) or Yasar (facilitation) or Najih (successful) because it would be said, ‘Is he there?’. And the answer would be if he is not, ‘No!’” [13]

In the above hadith the negation applies to the person bearing the name and the good quality itself.

Names with distasteful meanings are also not encouraged:

Ibn Umar (RA) and others narrated the Prophet (SAW) said,

“And indeed, the ugliest names are Harb (war) and Murrah (bitter).” [14]

It is disliked to name children after singers or actors and from names from outside Islamic culture. Girls’ names indicating passion or bodily attraction, e.g. Wisal (lovers union), Siham (arrows of love), Nahid (full-breasted woman) should be avoided.

One should not name children after angels or Qur’anic surahs e.g. Taha, Yaasin etc.

Combined names eg Sayf ud-Deen (sword of the religion), Baha ud-Deen (beauty of the religion), Taqiyy ud-Deen (pious in religion) should be avoided. These names were never used by the sahaba, and they usually constitute excessive praise for their bearers. Combining the name Muhammad with other boys’ names, in the hope of attaining more blessing is an innovation and should be avoided.

g) Changing names

It was the Prophet’s (SAW) practice to change bad names to good ones:

Aishah (RA) reported,

“When a man came to the Prophet (SAW) with a name that he (SAW) disliked, he would change it.” [15]

Abu Hurayrah (RA) reported,

“The name of Zaynab (bint Abi Salamah) was Barrah (righteous), and it was said that this constituted self-praise. So the Prophet (SAW) changed it to Zaynab (nice smelling and good looking tree).” [16]

Ibn Abbas (RA) reported,

“Juwayriyah’s name was Barrah (righteous), but Allah’s messenger (SAW) changed it Juwayriya (little friend or wife). The reason was that he hated to be said about him (when leaving her house), ‘He departed from the righteous.’” [17]

h) Calling by a nickname

It is permissible to call adults and children by nicknames or reduced versions of their names out of love, kindness, friendliness or intimacy:

Aishah (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) once said to her,

“O A’ish, this is Jibreel giving you salaam.” [18]

Anas (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) used to play with Zaynab, Umm Salamah’s daughter, repeatedly saying to her,

“O Zuwaynib, O Zuwaynib.” [19]


References

[1] Recorded by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih ul-Jami’ no. 4541 and Irwa ul-Ghalil no. 1165).

[2] Recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim.

[3] Recorded by Muslim, Ibn Majah and others.

[4] Recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.

[5] Recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim.

[6] Recorded by Ibn Bakir. Verified to be fabricated by al-Albani (ad-Da’ifah no. 171).

[7] Recorded by at-Tabarani from Ibn ‘Abbas. Verified to be fabricated by al-Albani (ad-Da’ifah no 437).

[8] Recorded by Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi (in ash-Shamail and al-Bukhari in al-Adab ul-Mufrad). Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Mukhtasar ush-Shamail no. 292 and Sahih ul-Adab il-Mufrad no. 834).

[9] Recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.

[10] Recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.

[11] Recorded by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani ( as-Sahihah no. 132, and Sahih ul-Adab il-Mufrad no. 850, 851).

[12] Recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.

[13] Recorded by Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (Sahih ul-Jami’ no. 7328).

[14] Recorded by Muslim, Ibn Majah and others.

[15] Recorded by at-Tabarani and al-Khallal. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 209).

[16] Recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.

[17] Recorded by Muslim, Ahmad and others.

[18] Recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.

[19] Recorded by ad-Diya ul Maqdisi. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 2141).

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