Give Non-Arabic Names to Our Children

bayi Question:

Can you name your child a name that is in another language other than Arabic, as long as it has a good meaning?


Children are a trust in the hands of parents. Parents, therefore, have a duty to receive this divine gift with a true sense of gratitude and do everything at their disposal to provide the best nurturing. There is nothing better than can do in this regard than by providing them a home filled with love and kindness, and thus contributing to their over all physical, intellectual, ethical and spiritual growth and development. Such a duty begins way before the birth of the child and extends all through their lives. Having said this, I must say, that the first important duty when a child is born is give adhaan in the right ear in a gentle voice, and give him/her a good name.

As for the choice of names, we are given the following guidelines

1. We must certainly avoid names that indicate any trace of shirk or association of partners with Allah; therefore it is forbidden to call someone ‘Abd al-ka’bah, or ‘Abd al-nabi (servant of Ka’bah or servant of the Prophet), since all of us are servants of Allah alone.

2. We must also avoid names which imply meanings that are offensive or unpleasant in connotations. The Prophet changed names such as harb (war) with salaam (peace), ‘aasiyah (rebellious) with Jameelah (beautiful), Sa’ab (difficult) with Sahl (easy to deal with), etc.

3. We are encouraged to give names that have good or noble meanings or associations, for names may inadvertently inspire a person to do great things or stay away from vices. Choosing names of prophets or great persons who have been role models of virtue and piety is an excellent idea. The Prophet, peace be upon him, named his son Ibrahim, and he said, “I have called him by my father’s name!”

Having said this, I must add: There is nothing in the Islamic sources to indicate that we are allowed only to give our children Arabic names. Since Islam is a universal religion, there is no such requirement. Any name is okay so long as we keep in mind the above points. But, at the same, while choosing names, we must strive our best not to compromise our Islamic identity.



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