Giving a Muslim Child a Non-Arabic Name
Islam does not oblige Muslim people to choose specific names, Arabic or non-Arabic, for their children, whether boys or girls. It is rather up to people to choose the names for their children. However, selecting names should be pursuant to some Islamic rules that will be stated below. Islam emphasizes that Muslims should have good names and give good names to their children. It is reported in a Hadith that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “You will be called on the Day of Resurrection by your names and the names of your fathers, so have good names.” (Reported by Abu Dawud)
Answering the question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
“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. There is nothing better they can do in this regard than by providing them a home filled with love and kindness, and thus contributing to their overall physical, intellectual, ethical and spiritual growth and development. Such a duty begins before the birth of the child and extends all through their lives. Having said this, I must say, that the first important duty when a child is born is to recite the adhan in the right ear in a gentle voice, and give him or her a good name.
As for the choice of names, we are given the following guidelines:
1. We must certainly avoid names that indicate any trace of shirk or association of partners with Allah. Theref
ore it is forbidden to call someone `Abd al-Ka`bah, or `Abd al-Nabi (servant of the Ka`bah or servant of the Prophet), since all of us are servants of Allah alone.
2. We must also avoid names that imply meanings that are offensive or unpleasant in connotations. The Prophet changed names such as Harb (War) with Salam (Peace), ‘Asiyah (Rebellious) with Jamilah (Beautiful), Sa`b (Difficult) with Sahl (Easy to deal with), etc.
3. We are encouraged to give names that have good or noble meanings or associations, for names may inadvertently inspire a person to do great things or stay away from vices. Choosing names of prophets or great persons who have been role models of virtue and piety is an excellent idea. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) named his son Ibrahim, and he said, “I have called him by my father’s name!”
Having said this, I must add: There is nothing in the Islamic sources to indicate that we are allowed only to give our children Arabic names. Since Islam is a universal religion, there is no such requirement. Any name is okay so long as we keep in mind the above points. But, at the same time, while choosing names, we must strive our best not to compromise our Islamic identity.”