Manners of naming your Muslim child
(A) When to Name the Child
(B) Who Names the Child
(C) Naming a Miscarried Fetus
(D) Praisworthy Names
(E) Prohibited Names
(F) Disliked Names
(G) Combining the Name and the Kunyah of the Messenger
(H) Giving Kunyah to a Small Child
(I) Manner and Regulations Relating to Giving a Kunyah
(A) When to Name the Child:
The ahaadeeth about when the child is to be named fall into two classes:
(1) Those which mention naming the child on the seventh day after the birth. Like the hadeeth of Samurah - radiyallaahu 'anhu - who said: Allah's Messenger said: <Every child is held in pledge for his' Aqeeqah which is sacrificed for him on his seventh day, and he is named on it and his head is shaved>1
And the hadeeth that the Messenger ordered that the child be named on the seventh day, that the harm be removed from him and the sacrifice (the 'Aqeeqah) be performed.2
(2) And those which indicate naming the child on the day of its birth. From these is the hadeeth of Anas-radiyallaahu 'anhu who said: Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: <A boy was born to me this night and I have given him the name of my forefather Ibraaheem.>3 Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) also named 'Abdullaah ibn Abee Taihah4, another baby was brought to him after birth and he called it al-Mundhir5 and there are many examples like this.
So from the previous ahaadeeth we can see that the time for giving the name is something flexible - and all praise and thanks are for Allah - so it may be named on the day of the birth, or delayed until the seventh day after birth - just as it is allowed between the two and later on. However, the time when it is recommended to name the child is the seventh day after the birth since that occurs in the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and so it is taken to be a recommendation, and the ahadeeth mentioning the day of its birth report the Prophet's action - and are, therefore, taken to show & what is permissible.
(B) Who Names the Child?
The father and mother are the ones who are to choose a good name for their child, but if they disagree about the name, then the father has the right to choose the name. If he wishes, he may name it himself and if he wishes, he may give the choice to his wife, and if he wishes he may draw lots with her.
The fact that naming the child is the right of the father is shown by the fact that the child in this world is ascribed and attributed to his father. Allah - the Most High - says:
"Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers, that is more just in the Sight of Allah." [Sooratul - Ahzaab, Aayah:5]
They will likewise be ascribed to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he (peace be upon him) said: <For every treacherous one a banner will be raised saying: This is the treachery of so and so, son of so and so.6
And the hadeeth: <On the Day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and your fathers names, so make your names good.>7
It is also allowed for the parents to allow someone else to choose the name his grandfather, or grandmother, or someone else, i.e. that they should say: 'Call him so and so', or 'Your name is so and so', or 'His name is so and so' etc., since our Messenger and teacher Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to name some of the children of his Companions - for example he named 'Abdullah ibn Abee Talhah as has preceded and he said to a man: <Call your son 'Abdur-Rahman>8
(C) The Ruling for Naming the Miscarried Fetus and the One who Dies before being named.
If it happens that the new-born child dies before it is named, then it is prescribed to give the child a name in this case9 - just as other children are named, and Funeral Prayer is said upon him, and the rulings for the deceased apply to him. As regards the fetus that is miscarried before the completion of six months - and that is the earliest that life would have been possible for it10 - then the scholars of the Shaafi'ees11 and the Hanbalees12 hold that it is recommended to name him, and they add that if the sex of the fetus is unclear then it should be given a name suitable for either such as: Talhah, Rajaa, Hind and Tarafah. Their support for the first and second questions is that the child will be called on the Day of Resurrection by his name, and this is a good and reasonable argument - if Allah wills.
It should also be noted that there are some ahadeeth reported concerning the encouragement to name the miscarried fetus, however, nothing from them is authentic - and Allah knows best.13
(D) Praiseworthy Names
When the parents intend to name their beloved child - whether male or female, then they may choose his or her name from one of the following four classes of names:
FIRST: That the child is given a name indicating servitude to Allah by calling him 'Abd (slave of...) followed by one of Allah - the Most High's names, those which are confirmed for Him and the most beloved of such names to Allah - the One free of all imperfections - are 'Abdullaah (the slave of Allah) and 'Abdur-Rahmaan (the slave of the Most Merciful) as shown by the hadeeth:
<The most beloved of your names to Allah - the Mighty and Magnificent - are 'Abdullaah and 'Abdur-Rahmaan>.14
SECOND: That the Child is Named after one of the Prophets or Messengers of Allah - ('Alaihimus - Salaatu Was-Salaam)
It is said that he. said: <Call yourselves by the names of the Prophets.>15
And he said: <You may name with my name.>16 And we find that following this principle, he called his own son Ibraaheem - after the name of his forefather Ibraaheem - 'Alaihimus - Salaatu Was-Salaam -, he said: <A son was born to me this night and I called him after my forefather Ibraaheem.>17
THIRD: Naming after the Pious People - The Companions, The Martyrs and the Scholars - both the Men and Women of Them.
Hoping that the child will grow up to love and respect them and follow their way and adopt their manners in righteousness, knowledge and seeking martyrdom. For this reason the noble companion az-Zubayr ibn al-Awaam radiyallaahu 'anhu chose the names of some of the martyrs from the Companions for his ten sons, hoping that they would become like them. So he named one 'Abdullaah after 'Abdullaah ibn Jahsh the martyr of Uhud, and 'Urwah after 'Urwah ibn Mas'ood, and Hamzah after Hamzah ibn 'Abdul-Muttalib - the noblest of the martyrs, and Ja'far after Ja'far ibn Abee Taalib - the martyr of Mutah, and Mus'ab after Mus'ab ibn 'Umayr - the martyr of Uhud radiyallaahu 'anhum ajma'een18 and what we have just mentioned is not specific to the males - rather it is for both the males and the females. So it is indeed praiseworthy and beneficial for the correct upbringing of daughters that they be called after the names of the pious women and those who participated in Jihaad from the female companions and those after them, hoping that they will follow them in piety, chastity and manners, and from these names are: Faatimah, Maryam, Asmaa, Sumayyah, Nusaybah, Khawlah and others from the pious and believing women.
FOURTH: GOOD NAMES WHICH DO NOT FALL INTO THE PREVIOUS THREE CATEGORIES
Names that are good in their wordings and meanings carrying meanings of bravery, chastity or piety and easily pronounced, harmonious, and suitable and befitting the person who carries the name. They should be far from that which has been forbidden in the Sharer'ah (which will follow) and from the examples of this type are: Hamzah, Khaalid, Anas, Usaamah, Thaamir, Haarith, & Hammaam the last two being the most true of names as occurs in the hadeeth19, and names like them in wording and meaning and from the examples of these for daughters are: Saarah, Hassaanah, Su'aad, 'Affaaf and other such names beautiful in wording and meaning.20
(E) Prohibited Names
The prohibited names are of two categories: those which are forbidden in the Sharee'ah and those which are either disapproved of due to the Sharee'ah, or due to manners and good taste.
FIRSTLY: FORBIDDEN NAMES21
(1) Names indicating servitude to other than Allah - the Most High such as: 'Abdun-Nabee (slave of the Prophet), 'Abdur-Rasool (slave of the Messenger)22 and 'Abdul - Muttalib - and whatever is like these names.
(2) Using these names which are particular names of Allah - the One far removed from all deficiencies - like: al-Ahad23.
(3) From the names which should also be avoided are the names of tyrants and despots like: Fir'awn (Pharaoh), Qaaroon, Aboo Jahl and their like, also the names of the leaders of Kufr and the heads of atheism such as Marx, Lenin and so on.
(F) Disliked Names
SECONDLY: NAMES DISAPPROVED OF IN THE SHAREE'AH OR DISLIKED DUE TO GOOD MANNERS OR GOOD TASTE.24
(1) Giving names which are meant to show servitude to Allah but using names not known to be from Allah's perfect names - like 'Abdul-Mawjood, 'Abdul-Maqsood and 'Abdus-Sattaar. This is because nothing can be affirmed as one of Allah's names without an authentic text.
(2) From these names are those which carry meanings of pessimism, or blameworthy characteristics which will be disliked or cause aversion or cause the possessor of the name to feel degraded, humiliated and such as will kill his personality - like Harb (war), Himaar (donkey), and Kalb (dog).
(3) From good manners is to avoid naming children with names which are suggestive or offend one's meaning of shame - such as: Huyaam (one passionately in love), Nuhaad (A young woman with full and raised breasts), Sahaam (summer heat)!, Wisaal (sexual union), Ghaadah (delicate young woman), Faatin (temptress), Fitnah (temptation), Shaadiyah (female singer) and names with similar meanings.
(4) It is also disliked to give names which amount to a declaration of a person's being pious like: Barrah (pious / piety) and the like - due to this meaning the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) changed the name of one of his wives from Barrah to Zaynab, as he used to hate that it be said: "He left/went out from 'Barrah' (piety)."25 & 26
(5) From these names which it is disliked to use for naming are the names of the Angels27- Particularly if they are used for females - such as Malaak since it is to be feared that this involves imitation of the pagans who gave feminine names to the angels.
(6) Just as it is disliked to name with the names of soorahs of the Qur'an such as: TaaHaa, Yaaseen and other names of soorahs. This is the saying of Imaam Maalik- rahimahullaah- Ibnul- Qayyim also said: "The saying of the common people that Yaaseen and TaaHaa are from the names of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is not correct, there is no 'saheeh' hadeeth about it or any 'hasan' hadeeth, nor anything 'mursal'28, nor any narration from any Companion, but rather they are letters like 'Alif Laam Meem', 'HaaMeem', 'Alif Laam Raa' and the like". 29
(7) It is disliked to give names 'Yasaar' (Ease), 'Rabaah' (Profit), 'Najeeh' (Successful), 'Aflah' (Prosperous), 'Ya'laa' (Elevated)' and Barakah' (Blessing) since the Messenger (peace be upon him) forbade that30 with his saying: <Do not call your boy Yasaar, nor Rabaah, nor Najeeh, nor Aflah, since you will say: Is he there,' So it will be said: 'No'. Indeed they are four, so do not attribute more to me>31And the forbiddence of Ya'aa and Barakah occurs in another hadith.32
(G) Combining the Name and the Kunyah of the Messenger.
Many scholars hold that there is no harm in giving the child the name of our Prophet: Muhammad and for him to take his Kunyah along with it, i.e. Abul-Qaasim. This is because they say that the forbiddence mentioned in the hadeeth: <Name with my name but do not give my Kunyah>33 was particular to his lifetime - this is the view of Imaam Maalik and the majority of the Salaf.34
Others hold that it is prohibited to join between the name of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Kunyah in ones name - based upon the previous hadeeth.
However, an evidence of the preferability of the first saying may be seen in
the hadeeth of 'Alee-radiyallaahu' anhu - who said: "O Messenger of Allah, if a son is born to me after your death, may I give him your name and your Kunya?" He said <Yes>35 So this clearly shows that the prohibition was particular to his lifetime and those who say that the allowance was only for 'Alee do not have any evidence for this.
(H) Giving Kunyah to a Small Child.
From the Sunnahs established from the beloved Messenger (peace be upon him) is the giving of a Kunyah to small children - calling them 'father of so and so' or 'mother of so and so' - and this strengthens the personality of the child and enables him and causes him to realize his worth and his importance. Together with the expression of hope which it contains, the feeling of familiarity it produces and the protection it gives from unbefitting nicknames. So he spoke in a good and affectionate manner with one of the small children and called him Aboo'Umayr. Anas said: "The Prophet (peace be upon him) was the best of people in manners, and I used to have a brother who was addressed as Aboo'Umayr - (the narrator said: I think he was one who had recently been weaned) and the Messenger (peace be upon him) when he came to him would say: <O Aboo 'Umayr what has happened to the Nughayr (Little Finch)>36 The finch was a small bird which the child used to play with. So this hadeeth shows the manners of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in treating this boy in an honorable and comforting way. Just as the poet said: "I call him by his Kunyah when I call him to show him due respect, and I do not call him by a nickname for that is unbefitting."
(I) Manner and Regulations Relating to Giving a Kunyah.
(1) It is permissible to give a Kunyah to a person before they have any children as is seen from the hadeeth of Aboo'Umayr.
(2) And someone who has children takes Kunyah after the eldest of his sons. This is what our Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) did when he asked a man about his sons, so the man said: "I have Shuraih, Maslamah and 'Abdullaah. So he said to him: <So who is the eldest of them!> He said: "Shurayh." So he said: <Then you are Aboo Shurayh.>"37
There is, however, no harm in taking ones Kunyah after the youngest or middle son - but it is better and more fitting that one should take ones Kunyah after the eldest.
(3) It is also allowed for one who has children to take a Kunyah not connected with his children - as was the case with Aboo Bakr, Aboo Dharr, Aboo Sulaymaan, since Aboo Bakr did not have a son called Bakr, Aboo Dharr did not have a son called Dharr, Aboo Sulaymaan did not have a son called Sulaymaan.
(4) It is also permissible for a man or a woman to take their kunyah after the name of a daughter - like Abuz-Zahraa, Aboo'Aa.ishah, Aboo Raihaanah, Aboo Ruqayyah, Aboo Arwaa, Abud-Dardaa, Ummud-Dardaa and others from the Companions of Allah's Messenger.
(5) It is also not a condition that Kunyahs have to be with names - they may involve attributes such as Abul-Fadl (father of excellence), Abul-Majd (father of honor), or involve nouns - such as Aboo Hurairah (father of the kitten), Aboo Hafs (father of a lion-cub) and Aboo Turaab (father of dust).38
(6) It may be that the Kunyah is actually the person's name which he is known by, i.e. that his/her name begins Aboo.... or Umm....., and this is rare.