Do Muslims HAVE to have “Islamic” names? The Quran says… NO!
Lesson of the day: The Truth about “Islamic Names”
Sadly, it has been known to happen that every time a person wishes to convert to Islam he/she is immediately bombarded by those who claim to be the custodians of the faith with a barrage of ridiculous requirements that he/she has to go through in order to become a Muslim (Submitter)!
One of these non Quranic requirements is the need to change one’s name and adopt a new “Islamic Name”! Not only is the concept of an “Islamic Name” a false concept, but it is also an innovation that has no basis in the Quran. With direct reference to the Quran, it can be demonstrated that there is no such thing as an “Islamic Name”. The Quran stresses the fact that Islam (submission to God) is a state of the body, mind and soul and not a name tag over one’s head!
The requirements set by God for any person to adopt Islam and become a submitter are simply for that person to proclaim submission to God alone, and consequently observe the rituals required for worshipping God alone. There is no mention in the Quran whatsoever of the need to change one’s name so as to have an “Islamic Name”
Even more important, is there any notion in the Quran about any preferential status for those who have certain names?
The answer to the first question is that these names are in fact Arabic Names. The evidence to this fact lies in the Quran.
We are told in the Quran that Abraham and his sons were the first Muslims:
“You shall strive for the cause of God as you should strive for His cause. He has chosen you and has placed no hardship on you in practising your religion-the religion of your father Abraham. He is the one who named you Muslim (Submitters) originally.” 22:78
“Abraham was neither Jewish, nor Christian; he was a monotheist Muslim (submitter). He never was an idol worshiper.” 3:67
We read that Abraham’s seed were Muslim:
“Had you witnessed Jacob on his death bed; he said to his children, “What will you worship after I die?” They said, “We will worship your god; the god of your fathers Abraham, Ismail, and Isaac; the one god. To Him we are Muslim (submitters).” 2:133
All the believers after Abraham and his seed were Muslim, in the following verse we read that Jesus and the disciples were also Muslims (submitters):
“Recall that I inspired the disciples: “You shall believe in Me and My messenger.” They said, `We have believed, and bear witness that we are Muslim (submitters).” 5:111
In other words, we learn from the Quran that all the genuine believers from the time of Abraham onwards were Muslim. This includes prophets like Lot, Jacob and Isaac and also disciples like Peter, John, Mathew …..etc.
If we take a closer look at some of these names (Lot, Jacob, Isaac, Peter, Mathew …etc) and compare them to some of the current names in the world today, we find that some of these names are in fact Jewish names (Jacob, Isaac … etc) and some others used by Christians (Peter, Mathew …etc) ….
None of these good Muslims (Submitters), like Lot, Isaac, Jacob or Peter, had to go to any puppet establishment and change their names to a name like (Ali or Ahmad ) in order to become Muslims! did they?
If that is so, then why do those uninformed Muslims insist that new converts must change their names to what they call an “Islamic Name”?
Sadly, so many have rejected the Quranic truth that it is Allah alone who is worthy of constant praise. They have also been blind to the fact that God never laid any importance on names, or appearance in the Quran. The Quran consistently confirms that those who will be saved in the Hereafter are those who arrive with a pure heart, and not the ones who have Arabic names!
“Paradise will be offered to the righteous, readily. This is what was promised to every repenter, steadfast. They reverenced the Most Gracious, in their privacy, and came with pure and faithful heart. Enter it in peace; this is the Day of Eternity.” 50:31-34
Thus to claim that only the names of the Arab Muslims are fit to be used by any new converts to Islam is in fact to show ignorance of the Quran. In reality, the act of becoming a true Muslim (Submitter) makes it necessary for a person to abandon their idolatry and not their identity.
Furthermore, since Islam is a universal faith that does not distinguish between any culture, race or colour, the act of insisting on a name change does not make the person a Muslim but in fact alienates the person from the universality of Islam.