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|al-Jumuah article: Call them by their father's name|
|10/25/01 at 15:36:56|
|Call them by their father's name|
Sheikh Wajdi al-Ghazzaawi
From al-Jumuah Magazine volume 12 issue 5/6
"Call them after their fathers. That is most just in the sight of Allah. If you know not their fathers, then call them your brothers in faith and your patrons. There is no blame on you if you make a mistake but you are accountable for what is done intentionally. Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful" [33:5]
What's in a name? More than you think. If you're thinking about changing your name to something more "Islamic," read this article first to avoid mistakes. Our ancestry are to us like roots are to a tree, one cannot truly cut them off.
One of these faults, which are widespread among Muslims, especially those who are serious about their religion, is the changing of the family name to a Muslim name. This is forbidden by Allah, hence He says, "Call them after their fathers. That is most just in the sight of Allah. If you know not their fathers, then call them your brothers in faith and your patrons. There is no blame on you if you make a mistake but you are accountable for what is done intentionally. Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful" [33:5]
In his famous tafseer, Imam ibn Katheer said that this verse abrogated a ruling of something that was allowed at the beginning of Islam. Abdullah ibn Umar said, "We used to call Zayd ibn Harithah, the patron of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, Zayd ibn Mohammed until the Qur'an stated, "Call them after their fathers. That is most just in the sight of Allah." (Bukhari) Ibn Katheer said, "Allah ordered us to call them by their real fathers' names. That is only just and fair."
This common mistake among new Muslims in the West, namely changing their family name, typically can lead them to fall into the following prohibitions:
First, Neglect of Allah's Orders:
It makes them subject to the grave warning and the definite threat that came in several ahadeeth. One of these ahadeeth, narrated by Imam Ahmad and Ibn Majah from Ibn Abbaas say, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said that, "Whomever is not named after his father, or take as a benefactor and protector other than his supporter, is cursed by Allah, His Angels and all the people." This is a severe and definite warning to those who are not named after their real fathers.
Just because the father's name is a Christian name or a non-Muslim name is not reason enough, in Islam, to change it. And so if one's father name is George, he should not change it to Muhammad or Ali for example. One must be named after his real father's name, even if they are non-believers (kuffar), or the worst enemies to Allah and His Messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa sal-lam.
To help illustrate this point, examine the following:
• Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl: This companion of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam became a Muslim in the year of al-Fatih or the concurring of Makkah, and was one of the best Muslims, one who fought for the sake of Allah until he was killed. He was the son of one of the worst of Allah's enemies, Abu Jahl, the man who fought the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, with his hands, tongue and money. Nevertheless, Ikremah never changed his father's name after becoming a Muslim. He kept his real father's name although it was not an honorable one.
• Ramlah bint Abi Sufyan: The Mother of the believers, the wife of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, married the Prophet before her father himself became a Muslim. Yet, she did not change her name and the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, did not order her to change it, although he was one of the Prophet's strongest enemies at the time.
• Safiyyah bint Huyay: Her father Huyay ibn Akhtab was a Jew. When she became a Muslim, the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam married her, and she did not change her father's or her grandfather's name even though everyone knew that they were non believers, and that they were the enemies of Allah and his Messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam. More than that, Safiyyah used to visit her family, and when Umar ibnul Khattab heard that she liked the Jews, he asked her about it. She replied that they were her family, and that as a Muslim she was supposed to keep her kin ties strong and, that that was the reason for her visits with them. Look at this example! Safiyyah did not forsake her family ties and never abandoned her family's name. She did this because she knew that her name would not hurt her or weaken her faith and belief in Allah.
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