The Prophets (ﷺ) Sunnah Regarding Names

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The Prophet (ﷺ) emphasized the importance of good names that truly reflected an individuals personality, their relationships or their actions. If an individual had a name or kunya that reflected something harmful or did not fit who they were he (ﷺ) would give them something more appropriate, but the modern practice in which someone accepts Islam and changes the name given to them by their parents was not something he (ﷺ) did nor encouraged unless the meaning was questionable or clearly did not fit ones character.

When choosing a name he (ﷺ) taught that it is ok to use the given name of an individual if it has a good meaning, but one should not take anothers kunya and use it as a given name when he made the statement, "Call yourselves by my name, but do not call yourselves by my Kunyah."

Names Prohibited By the Prophet (ﷺ)

  • Barrah (Piety)
  • Asiyah (Disobedient, Rebellious)
  • Harb (war)
  • Al-Munba'ith (one who lies)
  • Asram (Cut Off)

Names Changed By the Prophet (ﷺ)

  • Hazn (rugged) to Sahl (smooth)
  • Harb (war) to Silm (peace)
  • Al-Munba'ith (one who lies) to al-Mudtaji' (one who stands up).
  • The land of Afrah (barren) to Khadrah (green).
  • The name of a mountain path Shi'b ad-Dalalah (the mountain path of astray) to Shi'b al-Huda (mountain path of guidance).
  • Banu az-Zinyah (children of fornication) to Banu ar-Rushdah (children of those who are on the right path)
  • Banu Mughwiyah (children of a woman who allures and goes astray) to Banu Rushdah (children of a woman who is on the right path).
  • Al-'As, Aziz, Atalah, Shaytan, al-Hakam, Ghurab, Hubab, and Shihab to Hisham
  • Al-Asi to Muti (Obedient)
  • Asram (Cut Off) to Zur’ah (Sown Seed)

Names Changed By the Prophet (ﷺ): Weak and Fabricated

  • As-Surm (Separation) to Sa'id (Happy)

Narrations

Chapter: To Change a Name to a Better Name

باب تَحْوِيلِ الاِسْمِ إِلَى اسْمٍ أَحْسَنَ مِنْهُ

Narrated Abu Huraira: Zainab's original name was "Barrah (piety)," but it was said' "By that she is giving herself the prestige of piety." So the Prophet (ﷺ) changed her name to Zainab.[1]

حَدَّثَنَا صَدَقَةُ بْنُ الْفَضْلِ، أَخْبَرَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ جَعْفَرٍ، عَنْ شُعْبَةَ، عَنْ عَطَاءِ بْنِ أَبِي مَيْمُونَةَ، عَنْ أَبِي رَافِعٍ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ زَيْنَبَ، كَانَ اسْمُهَا بَرَّةَ، فَقِيلَ تُزَكِّي نَفْسَهَا‏.‏ فَسَمَّاهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم زَيْنَبَ‏.

Chapter: Manners

كتاب الأدب

Narrated Ibn 'Umar: that the Prophet (ﷺ) changed the name of 'Asiyah (Disobedient), he said: "You are Jamilah (Beautiful and Good)."[2]

حَدَّثَنَا يَعْقُوبُ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الدَّوْرَقِيُّ، وَأَبُو بَكْرٍ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ بَشَّارٍ وَغَيْرُ وَاحِدٍ قَالُوا حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ سَعِيدٍ الْقَطَّانُ، عَنْ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ، عَنْ نَافِعٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم غَيَّرَ اسْمَ عَاصِيَةَ وَقَالَ ‏ "‏ أَنْتِ جَمِيلَةُ ‏"‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ غَرِيبٌ ‏.‏ وَإِنَّمَا أَسْنَدَهُ يَحْيَى بْنُ سَعِيدٍ الْقَطَّانُ عَنْ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ عَنْ نَافِعٍ عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ وَرَوَى بَعْضُهُمْ هَذَا عَنْ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ عَنْ نَافِعٍ أَنَّ عُمَرَ ‏.‏ وَفِي الْبَابِ عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ عَوْفٍ وَعَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ سَلاَمٍ وَعَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ مُطِيعٍ وَعَائِشَةَ وَالْحَكَمِ بْنِ سَعْدٍ وَمُسْلِمٍ وَأُسَامَةَ بْنِ أَخْدَرِيٍّ وَشُرَيْحِ بْنِ هَانِئٍ عَنْ أَبِيهِ وَخَيْثَمَةَ بْنِ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ عَنْ أَبِيهِ ‏.‏


Chapter: Changing Bad Names

باب فِي تَغْيِيرِ الاِسْمِ الْقَبِيحِ

Ibn ‘Umar said : The Messenger of Allah (May peace be upon him) changed the name of ‘Asiyah and called her Jamilah.[3]

حَدَّثَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ حَنْبَلٍ، وَمُسَدَّدٌ، قَالاَ حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى، عَنْ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ، عَنْ نَافِعٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم غَيَّرَ اسْمَ عَاصِيَةَ وَقَالَ ‏ "‏ أَنْتِ جَمِيلَةُ ‏"‏ ‏.‏



Narrated Usamah ibn Akhdari: A man called Asram was among those who came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: What is your name? He replied: Asram. He said: No, you are Zur'ah.[4]

حَدَّثَنَا مُسَدَّدٌ، حَدَّثَنَا بِشْرٌ، - يَعْنِي ابْنَ الْمُفَضَّلِ - قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي بَشِيرُ بْنُ مَيْمُونٍ، عَنْ عَمِّهِ، أُسَامَةَ بْنِ أَخْدَرِيٍّ أَنَّ رَجُلاً، يُقَالُ لَهُ أَصْرَمُ كَانَ فِي النَّفَرِ الَّذِينَ أَتَوْا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏"‏ مَا اسْمُكَ ‏"‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَنَا أَصْرَمُ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏"‏ بَلْ أَنْتَ زُرْعَةُ ‏"‏ ‏.‏



Sa'id b. Musayyab told that his father said on the authority of his grandfather (Hazn): The Prophet (ﷺ) asked: What is your name? He replied: Hazn (rugged). He said: You are Sahl (smooth). He said: No, smooth is trodden upon and disgraced. Sa'id said: I then thought that ruggedness would remain among us after it.

AbuDawud said: The Prophet (ﷺ) changed the names al-'As, Aziz, Atalah, Shaytan, al-Hakam, Ghurab, Hubab, and Shihab and called him Hisham. He changed the name Harb (war) and called him Silm (peace). He changed the name al-Munba'ith (one who lies) and called him al-Mudtaji' (one who stands up). He changed the name of a land Afrah (barren) and called it Khadrah (green). He changed the name Shi'b ad-Dalalah (the mountain path of a stray), the name of a mountain path and called it Shi'b al-Huda (mountain path of guidance). He changed the name Banu az-Zinyah (children of fornication) and called them Banu ar-Rushdah (children of those who are on the right path), and changed the name Banu Mughwiyah (children of a woman who allures and goes astray), and called them Banu Rushdah (children of a woman who is on the right path). AbuDawud said: I omitted the chains of these for the sake of brevity.[5]

حَدَّثَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ صَالِحٍ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الرَّزَّاقِ، عَنْ مَعْمَرٍ، عَنِ الزُّهْرِيِّ، عَنْ سَعِيدِ بْنِ الْمُسَيَّبِ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ جَدِّهِ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ لَهُ ‏"‏ مَا اسْمُكَ ‏"‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ حَزْنٌ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏"‏ أَنْتَ سَهْلٌ ‏"‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ لاَ السَّهْلُ يُوطَأُ وَيُمْتَهَنُ ‏.‏ قَالَ سَعِيدٌ فَظَنَنْتُ أَنَّهُ سَيُصِيبُنَا بَعْدَهُ حُزُونَةٌ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو دَاوُدَ وَغَيَّرَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم اسْمَ الْعَاصِ وَعَزِيزٍ وَعَتَلَةَ وَشَيْطَانٍ وَالْحَكَمِ وَغُرَابٍ وَحُبَابٍ وَشِهَابٍ فَسَمَّاهُ هِشَامًا وَسَمَّى حَرْبًا سَلْمًا وَسَمَّى الْمُضْطَجِعَ الْمُنْبَعِثَ وَأَرْضًا تُسَمَّى عَفِرَةَ سَمَّاهَا خَضِرَةَ وَشِعْبَ الضَّلاَلَةِ سَمَّاهُ شِعْبَ الْهُدَى وَبَنُو الزِّنْيَةِ سَمَّاهُمْ بَنِي الرِّشْدَةِ وَسَمَّى بَنِي مُغْوِيَةَ بَنِي رِشْدَةَ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو دَاوُدَ تَرَكْتُ أَسَانِيدَهَا لِلاِخْتِصَارِ ‏.


Chapter: No man of Quraish is to be captured then killed, after the conquest

باب لاَ يُقْتَلُ قُرَشِيٌّ صَبْرًا بَعْدَ الْفَتْحِ

‏The same tradition has been narrated on the authority of Zakriyya through the same chain of transmitters with the following addition: " No rebellious Quraishite with al-Asi as his name embraced Islam that day except Muti. His name-was al-Asi, but the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) changed his name to Muti.[6]

حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ نُمَيْرٍ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبِي، حَدَّثَنَا زَكَرِيَّاءُ، بِهَذَا الإِسْنَادِ ‏.‏ وَزَادَ قَالَ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ أَسْلَمَ أَحَدٌ مِنْ عُصَاةِ قُرَيْشٍ غَيْرَ مُطِيعٍ كَانَ اسْمُهُ الْعَاصِي فَسَمَّاهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم مُطِيعًا ‏.


Weak Narrations

Chapter: Surm (meaning "separation")

بَابُ الصَّرْمِ

Ibn 'Abdu'r-Rahman ibn Sa'id al-Makhzumi, whose name was as-Surm, reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) named him Sa'id (happy). He related that he had seen 'Uthman reclining in the mosque.[7]

حَدَّثَنَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ بْنُ الْمُنْذِرِ، قَالَ‏:‏ حَدَّثَنَا زَيْدُ بْنُ حُبَابٍ قَالَ‏:‏ حَدَّثَنِي عُمَرُ بْنُ عُثْمَانَ بْنِ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ سَعِيدٍ الْمَخْزُومِيُّ، حَدَّثَنِي جَدِّي، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، وَكَانَ اسْمُهُ الصَّرْمَ، فَسَمَّاهُ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم سَعِيدًا، قَالَ‏:‏ رَأَيْتُ عُثْمَانَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ مُتَّكِئًا فِي الْمَسْجِدِ‏.‏

Notes

  1. Sahih al-Bukhari 6192, Book 78, Hadith 216: Book of Good Manners and Form (Al-Adab) كتاب الأدب
  2. Sahih (Darussalam) Jami 'at-Tirmidhi Vol. 5, Book 41, Hadith 2838: Book of Good Manners and Form (Al-Adab) كتاب الأدب - Arabic reference: Book 43, Hadith 3072
  3. Sahih (Al-Albani) Sunan Abi Dawud 4952: Book 43, Hadith 180: Book of General Behavior (Kitab Al-Adab) كتاب الأدب
  4. Sahih (Al-Albani) Sunan Abi Dawud 4954: Book 43, Hadith 182: Book of General Behavior (Kitab Al-Adab) كتاب الأدب
  5. Sahih (Al-Albani) Sunan Abi Dawud 4956: Book 43, Hadith 184: Book of General Behavior (Kitab Al-Adab) كتاب الأدب
  6. Sahih Muslim 1728 b: Book 32, Hadith 110: The Book of Jihad and Expeditions - كتاب الجهاد والسير
  7. Da'if (Al-Albani) Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 822: Book 34, Hadith 12: The Book of Names - كتاب الأسْمَاءِ