The ism (), is the given name, first name, or personal name; e.g. "Ahmad" or "Fatimah". Most Arabic names have meaning as ordinary adjectives and nouns, and are often aspirational of character. For example, Muhammad means 'Praiseworthy' and Ali means 'Exalted' or 'High'.
The syntactic context will generally differentiate the name from the noun/adjective. However Arabic newspapers will occasionally place names in brackets, or quotation marks, to avoid confusion.
Indeed such is the popularity of the name Muhammad throughout parts of Africa, Arabia, the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia, it is often represented by the abbreviation "Md.", "Mohd.", "Muhd.", or just "M.". In India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, due to its almost ubiquitous use as a first name, a person will often be referred to by their second name:
In ancient Arab societies, use of a laqab was common, but today is restricted to the surname, or family name, of birth.
The nasab () is a patronymic or series of patronymics. It indicates the person's heritage by the word ibn ( "son", colloquially bin) or ibnat ( "daughter", also bint, abbreviated bte.).
Ibn Khaldun ( ) means "son of Khaldun". Khaldun is the father's personal name or, in this particular case, the name of a remote ancestor.
Several nasab names can follow in a chain to trace a person's ancestry backwards in time, as was important in the tribally based society of the ancient Arabs, both for purposes of identification and for socio-political interactions. Today, however, ibn or bint is no longer used (unless it is the official naming style in a country, region, etc.: Adnen bin Abdallah). The plural is 'Abn? for males and Ban?t for females. However, Banu or Bani is tribal and encompasses both sexes.
The nisbah (?) surname could be an everyday name, but is mostly the name of the ancestral tribe, city, country, or any other term used to show relevance. It follows a family through several generations. It most often appears as a demonym (ex. "Al-Baghdadi", meaning that the person is of Baghdad or descendant of people from Baghdad).
The laqab and nisbah are similar in use, thus, a name rarely contains both.
A kunya (Arabic: ?, kunyah) is a teknonym in Arabic names. It is a component of an Arabic name, a type of epithet, in theory referring to the bearer's first-born son or daughter. By extension, it may also have hypothetical or metaphorical references, e.g. in a nom de guerre or a nickname, without literally referring to a son or a daughter. For example, Sabri Khalil al-Banna was known as Abu Nidal, "father of struggle".
Use of a kunya implies a familiar but respectful setting.
A kunya is expressed by the use of ab? (father) or umm (mother) in a genitive construction, i.e. "father of" or "mother of" as an honorific in place of or alongside given names in the Arab world and the Islamic world more generally.
A kunya may also be a nickname expressing the attachment of an individual to a certain thing, as in Abu Bakr, "father of the camel foal", given because of this person's kindness towards camels.
As a mark of deference, ?Abd is usually not conjoined with the prophets' names. Nonetheless such names are accepted in some areas. Its use is not exclusive to Muslims and in Lebanon and Egypt, the name Abdel-Massih, "Servant of Christ", is a common Christian last name.
During the Persian Ghurid dynasty, Amir Suri and his son Muhammad ibn Suri adopted Muslim names despite being non-Muslims. Other non-Muslim peoples, such as the Kalash, also take names such as Muhammad.
Converts to Islam may often continue using the native non-Arabic non-Islamic names that are without any polytheistic connotation, or association.
To an extent Arab Christians have names indistinguishable from Muslims, excepting some explicitly Islamic names, e.g. Muhammad. Some common Christian names are:
Some people, especially in the Arabian Peninsula, when descendant of a famous ancestor, start their last name with ?l "family, clan" (), like the House of Saud ? ?l ?ad or Al ash-Sheikh ("family of the sheikh"). ?l is distinct from the definite article (). If a reliably-sourced version of the Arabic spelling includes (as a separate graphic word), then this is not a case of the definite article, so Al (capitalised and followed by a space, not a hyphen) should be used. Ahl, which has a similar meaning, is sometimes used and should be used if the Arabic spelling is .
Dynasty membership alone does not necessarily imply that the dynastic is used - e.g. Bashar al-Assad.
|||'family'/'clan of'||Al||Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud|
|||'tribe'/'people of'||Ahl||Ahl al-Bayt|
? ? ?
Mu?ammad ibn Salm?n ibn Am?n al-Fars?
"Mu?ammad, son of Salm?n, son of Am?n, the Persian"
This person would simply be referred to as "Mu?ammad" or by his kunya, which relates him to his first-born son, e.g. Ab? Kar?m "father of Kar?m". To signify respect or to specify which Mu?ammad one is speaking about, the name could be lengthened to the extent necessary or desired.
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Non-Arabic speakers often make these mistakes:
In Arabic culture, as in many parts of the world, a person's ancestry and family name are very important. An example is explained below.
Assume a man is called Saleh ibn Tariq ibn Khalid al-Fulan.
Hence, Saleh ibn Tariq ibn Khalid al-Fulan translates as "Saleh, son of Tariq, son of Khalid; of the family al-Fulan."
The Arabic for "daughter of" is bint. A woman with the name Fatimah bint Tariq ibn Khalid al-Goswami translates as "Fatimah, daughter of Tariq, son of Khalid; of the family al-Goswami."
In this case, ibn and bint are included in the official naming. Most Arab countries today, however, do not use 'ibn' and 'bint' in their naming system. If Saleh were an Egyptian, he would be called Saleh Tariq Khalid al-Fulan and Fatimah would be Fatimah Tariq Khalid al-Goswami.
If Saleh marries a wife (who would keep her own maiden, family, and surnames), their children will take Saleh's family name. Therefore, their son Mohammed would be called Mohammed ibn Saleh ibn Tariq al-Fulan.
However, not all Arab countries use the name in its full length, but conventionally use two- and three-word names, and sometimes four-word names in official or legal matters. Thus the first name is the personal name, the middle name is the father's name and the last name is the family name.
The Arabic names listed below are used in the Arab world, as well as some other Muslim regions, with correspondent Hebrew, English, Syriac and Greek equivalents in many cases. They are not necessarily of Arabic origin, although some are. Most are derived from Syriac transliterations of the Hebrew Bible. For more information, see also Iranian, Malay, Pakistani, and Turkish names.
|Arabic name||Hebrew name||English name||Syriac name||Greek name|
|bir /bir ? / ?||Éver
|?Ayy?b||Iyov / Iov
Iyyov / Iyyô? ?
?zar / Tara? / ?
|Téra? / Tharakh /||Terah||Thara||?|
|D?wud / D?w?d / Dd ? / /||David
|F?l?b/F?l?bus / ?||Philip||-|
|?aww ?||Chava / Hava
|Idrees / Akhnookh
Idr?s / Akhn?kh /
|H?anokh ?||Enoch / Idris||?|
|Eliahu / Eliyahu
|?Imr?n /||Amr?m ?||Amram|
s? / Yas ? / ?
||Yitzhak / Yitzchak
Yi?ma?el / Yi?mêl
||Israel / Yisrael
Yisra?el / Yi?rl
|?ibr?l / ?ibra'?l ? /||Gavriel
|d / J?d||Gad ?||Gad|
|l?t / J?l?t / July?t /||Goly||Goliath|
|?a?am / ?m /
|r? / ?ir?is / ?ur? / ?uray?||George (given name)|
|Kil?b / Kalb ?/||Kalev||Caleb|
|Mady?n ?||Midian ?||Midian|
|M?liki-diq ? ?||malki-?édeq||Melchizedek||?|
|Maryam / Miriam
|Miriam / Miryam
|Matt? / Matatiy? /||Matatiahu / Matatyahu
| / Mikh?'?l ?
||Michael / Mikhael
|N ?||Noach / Noah
|Qar?n / Q?ra? / ?||Kórakh
|?afn?y?||Tzfanya / p?any?
||Tzipora / Tsippora
?amu'?l / ?amaw?l /
|Shmu'el / mû'?l
|S?rah ?||Sara / Sarah
|Sarah / Sara||?|
|Shamsh?n||Shimshon / ?im?ôn
l?t / wul / ?
|m?s/T?m? / ?
?Ubaydall?h / ?Ubaydiyy? ? ? / ?
?Ovádyah / ?Ovádyah
|Ya?y? / / Yann? ** ? /||Yochanan / Yohanan
Yathrun / Shu'ayb / ?
|Younos / Younes
/ Y?nus ?
|Yona / Yonah
|Youssof / Youssef
Y?suf / ?
Y?sha? / Yash ? / ?
Zakariyy? / Zakar?y? ?
|Zachary or Zechariah|
According to the Chicago Manual of Style, Arabic names are indexed by their surnames. Names may be alphabetized under Abu Abd and ibn, while names are not alphabetized under al- and el- and are instead alphabetized under the following element.
One must avoid names whose ambiguity suggests something unlawful. It is for this reason that the scholars forbid having names like 'Abd al-Nabi (Slave of the Prophet).