Should I Change My Name after Converting to Islam?

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?

name after converting, Salam Islam, New Muslims

No Obligation to Change Your Name

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.

How We Are Called on the Judgment Day

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 [1]. 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) said choosing a good name is a duty of the father [2]. Also, giving the child a good name is known as the first gift a father gives to his child [3]. In another narration, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) commands Muslims to choose good names for their children since on the Judgment Day also they will be called by the names they have in this world [4].

But, what is a good name?

 name  after converting, good, Islam

How to Recognize a Good Name?

In Islam, the concept of being good and evil is first determined based on the 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) and Imams (AS) are said to bring abundant blessings to its owner and his/her family [5]. Choosing these names for children, according to a narration from Imam Sadiq (AS), is the sign of the devotion that one has for Prophet (PBUH) and his family (Ahl al-Bayt (AS)) [6].

However, choosing the names other than these names is 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.

References:

[1] http://salamislam.com

[2] S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 2, p. 618.

[3] S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 15, p. 128.

[4] M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 101, p. 131, T. 29.

[5] S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 15, p. 129.

[6] Shaykh Sadouq, “Sawab-ul-Aamal wa Iqab-ul-Aamal”, p. 300.