Would Muslim parents be accountable before God if they give their child a non-Muslim name?
It is narrated from the Holy Prophet (s):
من حق الولد علی والده أن یحسّن اسمه و یعلّمه الکتابۀ و یزوّجه اذا بلغ) – مستدرک الوسائل ج15 ص 166)
“Of the rights of children over their fathers is to: give them a good name, to teach them literacy (education), and marry them when they reach the age of marriage.”
In general, our names are our identifications and hence it is very important to choose good and Islamic names for our children, especially for those living in a non-Islamic country.
With regards to naming our children, there are five different rules:
1. Some names are Haraam (forbidden) to choose; such as the names of idols, idol-worshippers, pharaoh, devil etc. In addition, naming our child ‘Zalim’ (oppressor), Kalb (dog), Khinzir (pig), or Khaliq (creator), and any such names that are contrary to monotheism and pure Islamic values are also forbidden.
2. Some names are Makrooh (better not to be used): such as Abdul-Husain (the slave of Husain), even if they mean servant of Husain, because it sounds contrary to ‘Abdullah’ (servant of Allah).
Also, it is Makrooh to give names which give the first impression that the person is not Muslim, such as ‘Simon’, ‘Michael’ etc. Such names don’t suit a Muslim or Muslimah. Based on the above-mentioned narration we can say we may also be accountable on the Day of Judgment, unless parents were forced to give such names to their children under Taqiyya circumstances for public or official use only.
Also, it is Makrooh to give two names to our children, one a good Islamic name like the names of the Imams, and the other a western name, but always call him with his western name. This is a kind of disrespect to the Islamic name. It is also Makrooh to give them a name that is too difficult to pronounce or sounds funny in that area.
3. Some names are Mobah (permissible): such as naming them after certain nice birds, flowers, stars etc.
4. Some names are Mustahab (recommended): such as the names of the Prophets, Imams, purified ladies, names with good and inspirational meaning, such as ‘Adel’ (just), ‘Saeed’ (prosperous), etc.
5. Some names are Wajib (obligatory): that is if parents for some reasons such as the illness of their child made a vow to name him for example ‘Ali’, then they are obliged to do so and must not change their mind after their predicament is over.
Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei