Ebrahim Moosa – Cii Radio

Names are like garments. They are an adornment and emblematic of ones personality, and will serve as the means by which one will be called in this world and in the Hereafter.

They are indicative of the religion to which one belongs, and they afford one with a sense of belonging in the global fellowship of faith. “It gives an impression of him to other people, and in their view it is like a garment – if it is too long or too short, it does not look right.”

Just like clothes, names are a necessity of our existence, and the ongoing cycle of life dictates that names will forever be sought for the globe’s newest additions.

And also just like clothes, names tend to have their seasons. Naming nowadays is quite often dictated by the latest name fads, societal pressure or simply the mere carnal instinct to appear unique.

Names in Islam however are meant to be much more than a piece of cloth that goes with the wind.

Islamic law is comprehensive. It regulates all aspects of human life in order to establish a social system in which human welfare is looked after and the worship of Allah is enshrined.

Islam emphasizes that Muslims should have good names and endow good names to their children. It is reported in a hadith that the Prophet (SAW) 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)

This definition of good according to Islam is not one shaped by societal norms, aesthetic value or cultural preferences, but rather, is one influenced by what is pleasing to Allah SWT.

According to Islam, the most beloved of names to Allaah are ‘Abd-Allaah and ‘Abd al-Rahmaan. Following these, one is encouraged to keep any names which express enslavement and worship of Allaah, such as ‘Abd al-Azeez, ‘Abd al-Raheem, ‘Abd al-Malik, ‘Abd al-Ilaah, ‘Abd al-Salaam, etc. It is also highly meritorious to keep the names of the Ambiyaa, the companions of the Prophet SAW, and all other noble souls that succeeded them.

A stream of recent media reports attested to the miracle of the name Muhammad, and the popularity it continues to enjoy throughout the Muslim World.

A phenomenon that may be considered peculiar to outsiders is how so many Muslim families choose to name not one, but multiple of their male offspring using the name Muhammad, simply out of pure love for the Beloved SAW.

Ibn Asakir and Hussain Ibn Ahmad have narrated that Sayyiduna Rasoolullah Sallallaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam said, “If a son is born to you and out of love and respect for me and to obtain the blessings of my name, you keep the child’s name ‘Muhammad’, then the father and child will both enter Jannah.”

Notwithstanding this, Moulana Sayed Imraan Ziyaee of the Cape Town Islamic Educational Centre says it still remains critical to remind the community of the Barakah associated with the name Muhammad and other esteemed names of Ambiyaa, to avoid Muslims falling for the trap of adopting the most ear-catching names that may just happen to be in vogue.

“We need to ask ourselves, these Ambiyaa – were they chosen by Allah SWT or not?” he told Cii Radio’s Ulama In Focus recently. “Were they handpicked by man or Allah SWT? If they were handpicked by Allah, then were their names not handpicked by Him too? It is through these names that Allah SWT addressed these of His special servants. This renders these names ones that Allah SWT loves and wants to recognise His servants by.”

“People today want fancy names,” he continued. “I am not giving a Fatwa, but are we even looking at the meaning of the name? How many of us do in fact even know the meaning of our own names..Names should be given in accordance to the Sunnah of Nabi SAW, because it is these names that play an important role in the life of a person. When choosing a name, don’t just look through the books and choose what sounds fancy, and what is spelt with an X and what is spelt with a Z, look at the meaning for this will leave an indelible imprint on that child’s personality for life.”

Echoing a similar theme, Moulana Khabbaab Ahmed from the UK, recently told Cii Radio that naming ones offspring after the Sahabah RA represented  a serious attempt to mould future generations according to the Sahaba’s illustrious legacy.

“These were names that were given by and pronounced by Rasulullah SAW, and they narrate things from Rasulullah SAW – so the personalities and names of these Sahabah RA are both blessed. So, if we want to share from this blessedness and goodness in our lives, sharing these names makes for a good starting point.”

The scholar, who himself is named after an eminent companion, explained how the emulation of the name of Umar al Farooq RA was one of the factors that shaped the greatness of Umar bin Abdul Aziz RA and his just rulership so many years later.

“So exemplary was his rule, that even wolves and sheep co-existed peacefully,” he said.

In the writings of Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi, he labels it commendable to call children after the Prophets and righteous people, to keep them in memory, so as to take them as a guide and follow in their footsteps.

Naming after the pious, the Sahabah, martyrs and Ulama – both the male and female thereof – in the hope that the child will grow up to love and respect them and follow their way and adopt their manners in righteousness, knowledge and seeking martyrdom, was also the way of the Sahabah RA themselves.

The noble companion az-Zubayr ibn al-Awam (RA) chose the names of some of the martyrs from the Sahabah RA for his ten sons, hoping that they would become just like them. So he named one ‘Abdullah after ‘Abdullah ibn Jahsh the martyr of Uhud, and ‘Urwah after ‘Urwah ibn Mas’ood, and Hamzah after Hamzah ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib – the noblest of the martyrs, and Ja’far after Ja’far ibn Abee Talib – the martyr of Mutah, and Mus’ab after Mus’ab ibn ‘Umayr – the martyr of Uhud (RU).

Heroic feats are in no short supply amongst the females of the eminent generations of Muslims, so choosing female names along the same lines should not prove difficult.

A positive spinoff of this approach would be the enhancement of the public profile of the names of such Sahabah RA in an era where the beloved companions are ridiculed and slandered, often brazenly, by deviant groupings.

Even more noteworthy would be that one who be able to adopt the spiritual icon one is named after as a role model.

Explains Sheikh Khabbaab, “every Sahabi is a gem that Allah SWT is pleased with. So even the example of just one Sahabi could serve as an ocean of guidance for us – his social life, business dealings, personal characteristics – just that would be highly instructive. Only one Sahabi’s example can make a huge difference in the life of one person, and in turn impact on the lives of the entire community”.

Such is the beauty that lies in simplicity. By purely adhering to the beautiful simplicity of choosing names Islamically, one can harvest magnificent results.

“If we do want good qualities, let us start off by giving good names”.