Chapter 7: Naming the Newborn Child

 1. The baby can be named at any time from birth until the seventh day. But it should be named by the seventh day, no later than that. 
  • The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said that the child should be named on the seventh day.

Samura bin Jundub رضي الله عنه said that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

كل غلام رهينه بعقيقته تذبح عنه يوم سابعه ويسمى فيه ويحلق راسه

Every child is mortgaged with it’s aqeeqah, which is to be slaughtered for it and it 7th day. Answered it should also be named and its head should be shaved.                  [Ahmad, Abu Dawood. al-Albaani: saheeh]

  • He صلى الله عليه وسلم also sometimes named children, including his own son, immediately after they were born.
    • Anas رضي الله عنه said that on the morning after his son’s birth, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

ولد لي ليله غلام فسميته باسم ابي ابراهيم

Last night a boy was born to me and I named him with the name of my father Ibraheem. [Bukhaari and Muslim]

Looking at both the Prophet’s words and his actions, the scholars conclude that the child can be named right after birth until the seventh day.

 2. The right of naming the child ultimately lies with the father.
  • The scholars said that as the head of the household it is the father’s responsibility.

Abdullah bin Umar رضي الله عنهما said that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلمsaid:

كلكم راع وكلكم مسؤول عن رعيتكم… والرجل راع في اهله ومسؤول عن رعيته. والمراه راعيه في بيت زوجها ومسؤوله عن رعيتها

All of you are shepherds and all of you are responsible for your flock… A man is the shepherd of his family and he is responsible. A woman is the Shepherd of her husband’s house and she is responsible. [ Bukhaari and Muslim]

NOTE: The scholars further say that the husband should consult his wife in the decision and seriously consider her choices too, especially if they are good names. 

3.The child should be given a good name, one that is pleasing to Allah سبحانه وتعالىor approved by the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.

Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه said that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

انا احب الاسماء الى الله عبد الله وعبد الرحمن. واصدقها الحارث وهمام. واقبحها حرب ومره

Indeed the most beloved names to Allah are Abdullah and Abdur-Rahmaan. And the most truthful are Haarith and Hammam and the most ugly are Harb and Murra. [Muslim, Ibn Majah]

  • From this Hadith we can see that some of the preferred names are:
    • the names that express servitude, specifically Abdullah and Abdur-Rahmaan
    • the names that are truthful, meaning those that express qualities within human nature.

 

  • It is also liked to name a child after the Prophets عليهم السلام
    • The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم named his son after Ibrahim عليه السلام.                                                           Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه reported that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

تسموا باسمي ولا تكنوا بكنيتي

Name yourselves with my name and do not take my kunya. [Bukhaari and Muslim]

  • The names of the righteous people are also liked.

Zubair ibn al-Awwam رضي الله عنه named his nine sons after the martyrs of the Battle of Badr. 

NOTE: While these names are good, there is no obligation to use them. The Hadiths mentioning merits of these names are fabricated. For example, it is said that naming a child Muhammad will cause the parent and the child to enter jannah; this is fabricated. Similarly it is said that the most beloved names to Allah سبحانه وتعالى are those of servitude; this is also fabricated.

 

4.The scholars also mention some names that are prohibited (not allowed).
  • Those names which shows servitude to other than Allah سبحانه وتعالى.

For example: Abdur-Rasul, Ghulam Ahmad, Abdul Kabah, and others.

  • Those names that are specific to Allah سبحانه وتعالى.

For example, the King of Kings or Ar-Rahmaan.

  • The names of that people or tyrants.

For example, Firawn or Caesar.

 5. The scholars father mentioned names whose usage are disliked.
  • Names that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم expressed his dislike for.

Samurah bin Jundub رضي الله عنه said that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

.لا تسمي غلامك أرباح ولا أفلاح ولا يسار ولا نجيح

يقال أثم هو. فيقال لا

Do not name your servants Rabah (success), Aflah (winner), Yasaar (facilitator), or Najeeh (successful). It will be said ‘is he there’ and it would be said ‘no.‘ [ Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi]

(Meaning the person would get the negation of the name. Is success here ?No!)

  • The names of non-Muslims, singers, actors, etc.

We should not be imitating the non-Muslims or those committing sins.

Ibn Umar رضي الله عنه said that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

من تشبه بقوم فهو منهم.

Whoever imitates a people then he is from them. [Abu Dawood]

 6. If someone has an improper name it can be changed to a better one.

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم is reported to have done this on many occasions.

Um Salamah’s رضي الله عنها daughter was named Barrah (righteous). The Prophet ﷺ said to her:

لا تزكوا انفسكم. فان الله اعلم بالبر منكن و الفاجرة. سموها زينب

Do not magnify yourselves. indeed only Allah knows the righteous and the corrupt among you. Name her Zaynab. [Bukhaari and Muslim]

 7. Ascribing one's self to the father is of paramount importance in Islam.
  • Allah سبحانه وتعالىsays in Soorah Ahzaab, Ayah 5:

ادْعُوهُمْ لِآبَائِهِمْ هُوَ أَقْسَطُ عِندَ اللَّهِ

Call them by [the names of] their fathers, it is more just in the sight of Allah.

  • Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas رضي الله عنه said that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

ومن ادعى الى غير ابيه وهو يعلم انه غير ابيه فالجنه عليه حرام

And whoever ascribes themself to other than their father, and knows that he is not the father, then Jannah is forbidden to him. [Bukhaari and Muslim]

-The only exception is illegitimate children, those who are born outside of wedlock.

Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه narrated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

الولد لصاحب الفراش وللعاهر الحجر

A child belongs to (the owner of) the mattress, and to the adulterer is the stones. [Bukhaari and Muslim]

 8. Surnames from an Islamic perspective.
  • The scholars have said that surnames are family names. They are not considered or meant to be the father’s name.
  • A Muslim should make every effort to carry the father’s name. 

For example, by making the middle name of the child the father’s name. Maryam the daughter of Ahmad from the family of Sudais would be called Maryam Ahmad Sudais.

 9. Nicknames from an Islamic perspective
  • The scholars have agreed that it is allowed once it is out of love, kindness, or friendliness. But not if it is out of something negative or if the bearer dislikes it.
  • The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم is reported to have done it many times:
    • Aaisha رضي الله عنها said the the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم once said to her:

يا عائش، هذا جبريل يقرا عليك السلام

Oh Aish, this is Jibreel greeting you with salaams. [Bukhaari and Muslim]

  • Anas رضي الله عنه said that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم played with his sister, Umm Salamah’s رضي الله عنها daughter, saying:
    يا زوينب، يا زوينب
    Oh Zuwaynab, oh Zuwaynab.
    [al-Albaani: saheeh]