Children are a trust in the hands of parents. Parents, therefore, have a duty to receive this divine gift with a true sense of gratitude and do everything at their disposal to provide the best nurturing. It is one of the duties of parents towards their children that they choose good names for them. Parents should be keen to choose good names for their children that comply with the guidelines set by Shari`ah and avoid differences on this issue. They should consult each other and reach an agreement rather than each one of them insists on his own choice. However, if they disagree then they should choose the best of the two names which is nearer to the Shari`ah rulings regarding choosing names. If the two names are equal in this regard, then the father is the one who has the right to give the name.
In his book, Tarbiyat al-Awlad fi al-Islam [trans. Child Education in Islam] Dr. `Abdullah Nasih `Ulwan, professor of the Qur’anic exegesis at King Abdul Aziz University, states:
“In case the parents have different opinions regarding the naming of the child, then the right to name the child is given to the father. The Qur’an stated that the child carries the name of the father not that of the mother. Almighty says: “Call them after their fathers that is more equitable in the reckoning of Allah.”(Al-Ahzab: 5)
The Prophet’s hadiths in this regard show that the right to name the child is given to the father, such as the hadith related by Muslim in which the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) says: “I was blessed with a son tonight and I named him after my great ancestor Ibrahim.”
But it must be stressed here that in using this right, the father or any other person is not entitled to give the child an ugly name, as ‘A`war’ (one-eyed) or ‘A`raj’ (lame) or similar names. It is permissible, even recommendable, to nickname the child.”