Everybody has a name and is known by that name among his/her friends, family, and in the society. Names might seem as some letters simply put together that form a word, but there is more to names than that. Every name represents the identity of its owner and sometimes affects the personality of that person. In Islamic teachings, great attention is paid to the names, and a lot of advice exists on how to choose a proper name for the new-borns. Someone who converts to Islam is said to be a re-born, so, is he/she required to choose another name for him/herself after this new birth? and should he/she Chang his/her Name after Converting to Islam?
The answer to the question above depends on what one’s name means and the origin of that name. There is no need to change the names:
without any specific orientation like the names of the flowers, or the names which are popular in a region or area but without any ideological persuasion, etc.;
without any negative backgrounds;
that do not bear negative historical, conceptual or educational meanings.
On the whole, a convert is not obliged to change his/her name, unless in the above where he/she is free to decide. In this regard, considering the Islamic teachings in naming can be helpful.
Choosing a proper name is one of the children’s rights over the parents. A good name positively affects its owner’s mind, and its meaning unconsciously strengthens the features implied in it in the character of the owner . On the contrary, a funny or ridiculous name causes the owner to be laughed at or to be mocked by others.
This matter is of great importance in Islam that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said choosing a good name is a duty of the father . Also, giving the child a good name is known as the first gift a father gives to his child . In another narration, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) commands Muslims to choose good names for their children since on Judgment Day also they will be called by the names they have in this world .
But, what is a good name?
In Islam, the concept of being good and evil is first determined based on rationality and then according to the Islamic law (Shari’a), so do proper names. A good name should be therefore rationally pleasant.
Are Non-Islamic Names Allowed?
In Islam, some names like those of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and Imams (AS) are said to bring abundant blessings to its owner and his/her family . Choosing these names for children, according to a narration from Imam Sadiq (AS), is the sign of the devotion that one has for the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and his family (Ahl al-Bayt (AS)) .
However, choosing names other than these names are not prohibited by Islam. In other words, the meaning of the name, its history, and the educational effects it has on one’s personality, matter much more than the fact of being Islamic or not.
During the history of Islam, there existed some converts who had common non-Islamic names after they converted. Since they hold the names common in their regions or tribes and free of any negative concept, they kept their names after embracing Islam. Hence, there is no obligation in choosing an Islamic name.
- Name in Islam
- S. Hal-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 2, p. 618.
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 15, p. 128.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 101, p. 131, T. 29.
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 15, p. 129.
- Shaykh Sadouq, “Sawab-ul-Aamal wa Iqab-ul-Aamal”, p. 300.
It may not be a great deal for Muslims even to check if hanging around in social networks in Islam is Lawful (Halal) or forbidden (Haram) for them. The question may sound very dogmatic when you hear it at first, and you may reply: “What are you saying? We are living in the 21st century. We live in a world of technology. All our communications and a high percentage of our work depend on social networks.”
Okay! Stop answering me before you let me finish my words. I know that we are living in a world of technology and as you see, I am communicating with you via the internet, using social networks. But what I’m talking about is not about the advantages of social networks. We are all aware of how useful cyberspace is in our daily life. But here I want to invite you to think about your habits and behaviors in the cyberspace.
In this article I would like to go through the pathology of our use of social networks and to see if we are going astray at some point, then we can bold it out, so we can solve it.
Apart from phone calls and necessary communications that have become easier via social networks, some people run their businesses using these networks. People can sit at home and instead of traveling far distances for work meetings, can stay home and manage their works, or some can even study and graduate via distance learning organizations.
There are loads and loads of advantages that we can keep counting for social networks, and I am not going to ignore all of them. But I want to make a few points that we may be neglecting in using social networks.
Let me remind you that Islam is a way of life and Muslims and those who convert to Islam believe that it is the best way of life for one who wants to achieve success in this world and the hereafter.
Believe it or not, YES. Just like any other aspect of life for which Islam tells us how to behave to achieve absolute success, it has recommendations for Muslims’ use of Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, etc. it may not be directly mentioned in the Quran or narrations, but since social networks are types of virtual societies, the Islamic lifestyle and its rulings may apply to our behaviors in social networks.
Being in any gatherings or societies has its own conditions and requires its special behavior. It is important that we can analyze different situations and find out how we should behave according to our Islamic lifestyle. Social networks are also like a society that requires specific etiquette, and we, as Muslims, should discover these etiquettes. There are a few points that are very important to consider from an Islamic viewpoint, while talking about the etiquette of Muslims, hanging around in social networks in Islam:
Islam has specific rulings about the relationship between men and women in society. These rulings are presented to dignify and respect the character of both men and women. These may contain the following:
- Etiquette of speech and look.
- Not joking and praising the opposite sex for personal acts that are not common to be praised in real society.
- Sending heart or kind stickers that are not common to use in real gatherings.
- Posting photos of either men or women in different places. Muslim men and women do not keep the images of those who are of unmarriageable kin (non-mahram).
Usually, practicing Muslims try to keep these limits in social networks, just like controlling their manners in real society.
Another thing that is known to be abhorrent according to Islam is showing off to others. Islam says that Muslims are like sisters and brothers . And therefore they have to make sure that if one sister or brother doesn’t have the ability to have something or to go somewhere for any reason (financial, health-wise, etc.), you should not make them feel sorry for what they don’t have or cannot have at the moment.
Therefore, from an Islamic viewpoint sharing your moments of having fun with your friends, or eating at a fancy restaurant, or gaining a great opportunity at work or school, is not recommended.
Considering the above, you can conclude which of your posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, etc. are not liked by God.
Allah recommends Muslims that when they finish a task, they should start another task . It means that Muslims should not waste any time, and we all have the experience that hanging around on social networks consumes a lot of our time without we even realize it.
Therefore it might worth that we specify a specific amount of time to our use of social networks per day, and don’t allow the cyberspace to carry us with it wherever it wishes.
Too much of communication and too much of speech always makes the ground fertile for dangerous words such as wrong judgment of others, the humiliation of other groups or sects or races, insulting people (especially famous people) for no right reason, accusing people of what they haven’t done, etc. These are all forbidden (Haram) according to Islam . But Muslims may sometimes forget to be cautious about these issues in social networks in Islam.
Therefore, I strongly recommend that we specify some time and revise our manner in social networks in Islam. Then, we might realize that much of our use of social networks are useless and is preventing us from attaining our success in this world and the hereafter. Or on the other hand, we may again realize that our use of social networks has no contradictions with Islamic law, and we can keep up the good job!
Let’s be honest guys and not justify the importance of our presence in social networks. If we are wasting time, we need to make a firm decision. And if we don’t live based on an Islamic lifestyle, we shouldn’t expect to be the most successful.
- The Quran: Chapter 49, Verse 10
- The Quran: Chapter 94, Verse 7
- The Quran: Chapter 49, Verse 11-12
“He turned away from them and said, ‘Alas for Joseph!’ His eyes had turned white with grief, and he choked with suppressed agony.” (12: 84)
Reading the above verse of the Quran, many people may not perceive why prophet Jacob (PBUH) wept so hard on the loss of his son, Josef (AS) until he became blind. And he continued grieving on the loss of Josef so much that his sons told him “By Allah! You will go on remembering Joseph until you wreck your health or perish”. (12: 85) Was his grief merely because of the loss of Josef or the oppression that his brothers had towards him? Or was it because of his disappointment with his other sons who committed such a cruel act toward Josef?
When we read the story of prophets in the Quran, each of them say to their people that I want no reward from you, as “my reward lies only with him who originated me” (11” 51), while among all the prophets of God, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) made an exception as God ordered him to tell people “Say, ‘I do not ask you any reward for it except the love of [my] relatives.” (42:23)
And therefore, it is for this straightforward order of God in the Quran that Muslims love the household of Prophet so dearly. It is narrated from the prophet who said: “Surely, there exists in the hearts of the believers, with respect to the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, a heat that never subsides.” 
Therefore, if you visit Muslims who are weeping and mourning on the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS), many of them may not be able to explain why they are doing so. They may only tell you that there are a pain and grief that I feel within my heart, and they may speak of their love for the prophet’s household. However, apart from those feelings and emotions, let’s see what the logical reasons behind mourning for Imam Hussain (AS), his family and companions are?
The mourning for Imam Hussain (AS) that is increasingly spreading all over the world after about 1400 years is one of the miraculous aspects of Imam Hussain’s (AS) uprising. However, aside from strong feelings that Muslims have for the household of the Prophet, there are so many narrations from the progeny of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that encourages people to weep on the sorrow of Imam Hussain (AS) and his family. For example the narration from Imam Reza that says: “If you weep over the afflictions of Hussain (AS) such that tears flow from your eyes and fall upon your cheeks, Allah will forgive all your sins whether big or small and less or large in number.” 
But why would great Muslim leaders emphasize so hard on spending time and energy on weeping and mourning, while people could spend the same amount of time and energy for doing scientific research or inventing something that helps humanity?
This question is raised by many people, and here I wish to mention a few reasons why reviving the tragedy of Karbala is so important.
“We will recount to you the best of narratives in what We have revealed to you of this Quran, and indeed prior to it you were among those who are unaware [of it].” (12:3)
When you read the Holy Quran, you see it full of stories of the past generations through which God portrays the most important human values in life.
The event of Karbala is full of lessons that are worth being reviewed every day and night, to help the growth of human society; lessons of heroism, standing against cruelty, defending human dignity, and complete obedience of God.
Holding mourning gatherings is a great reason where people of the society, from all different social classes and different ages, sit together and revise the most important humanitarian issues and values which awaken the spirit of chivalry in them and give them the courage to stand against the oppressors of their time.
After the event of Karbala occurred, there were no specific media to convey the message of Karbala and the aim of Imam Hussain (AS) from going to the land of Karbala. From then on, it was only the mourning gatherings that were a place to recite the tragedy of Karbala to others and through it, illuminate the right from wrong. This great event at the time of Imam Hussain (AS) where the rulers of society were trying to hide the way of righteousness was a magnificent move to help the religion of God: “O you who have faith! Be Allah’s helpers, just as Jesus son of Mary said to his disciples, ‘Who will be my helpers for Allah’s sake?’” (61: 14)
In today’s psychology, many believe that if you have a goal to reach, having an image of that goal in mind will help you reach it. In mourning ceremonies for Imam Hussain (AS) we keep repeating the great morals and values of Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions and household. We keep revising their kindness, wisdom, courage, their humbleness toward God and good people and chivalry toward the oppressors, etc.
Naming the above characteristics in such ceremonies and trying to be like those great courageous men and women, is more beneficial than any life-coaching sessions that try to help us revive ourselves and our lives, and it is at everyone’s access for free.
If we hate oppression and wish to stand against it, we need a guide to know how to behave in different situations; when to negotiate, when to disagree, when to yell our beliefs, when to make our movement revolutionary and call others to assist us, when to make peace, and finally when is the time to fight against the oppressor?
It is hard to find a true answer to all the above questions when we face the oppressors. But revising the history of Karbala and studying Imam Hussain’s (AS) behavior in a different situation can help us find the choice when we face similar conditions, as he has gone through the same path. Mourning ceremonies are the situation where this history is revised every time, and we can perceive through reading the history that Imam Hussain (AS) did not tend to start a fight from the beginning. At some point he even migrated from his hometown to avoid the war, When he was forced to give allegiance to the corrupt caliph, Yazid, instead of making riots, he left the city, while he had received so many invitation letters from people of Kufah to become their leader. But since the Kufies broke their oath, he had to faith towards Karbala.
However, even in Karbala, he did not tend to fight. But he sent letters and made negotiations. He gave speeches to illustrate the truth for people. He wrote letters to different classes of the society and advised people and invited them to follow the true path. Although his enemies never accepted to change their minds and follow the true path, he still did not start the fight, until he was attacked by the enemy. And he defended himself and his household only when he had no other choice. Therefore, Hussain (AS) and his behavior in different conditions can be a great role model for us, in life.
Hussain (AS) does not belong to Muslims only. His behavior and lifestyle represent a way of life for all humans who wish to live a prosperous life. It is in the nature of all human beings who hate oppression and cruelty and would like to stand against it. Hussain (AS) teaches us to have courage and chivalry in life. That is why he faced the army of the enemy on the tenth day of Muharram and said: “If you do not believe in any religion and do not fear the resurrection day, at least be free men in this world.” This saying clearly shows that Hussain’s teachings are not limited to Muslims only, but his way of life can be a role model for all of those who wish to live a humane life.
- Mustadrak al-wasail, vol. 10, p. 31
- Shaykh Abbas Qummi: Nafasul Mahmum, tradition. 9
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, p. 51