Sadly, it has been known to happen that every time a person wishes to convert to Islam, he/she is immediately bombarded by those who claim to be the custodians of the faith, with a barrage of ridiculous requirements that he/she has to go through in order to become a Muslim!
One of these non Quranic requirements that they insist on is the need to change one’s name and adopt a new ‘Islamic Name’ ! Not only is the concept of an ‘Islamic Name’ a false concept, but it is also an innovation that has no basis in the Quran. With a direct reference to the Quran, it can be demonstrated that there is no such thing as an ‘Islamic Name’. The Quran stresses the fact that submission is a state of the body, mind and soul and not a name tag over one’s head!
The requirements set by God for any person to adopt Islam are simple and there is no mention in the Quran whatsoever of the need to change one’s name so as to have an ‘Islamic Name’ …… so where did that innovation come from?
For that, it is necessary to look closely at the phrase ‘Islamic Name’.
If you are a man wishing to adopt Islam they will tell you choose a name like Muhammad, Ali, or Ahmad ….. etc…….
If you are a woman, they will tell you choose a name like Khadija, Fatma, or Zeinab …….
But are these really ‘Islamic Name’, or are they merely ARABIC NAMES? Moreover, is there such a thing as an ‘Islamic Name’?
Even more important, is there any notion in the Quran about any preferential status for those who have certain names?
The answer to the first question is that these names are in fact ARABIC NAMES. The evidence to this fact lies in the Quran.
In 22:78 we are told in the Quran that Abraham and his sons were the first Muslims.
In 2:133 we are also told that Abraham’s seed were Muslim.
In 5:111 we are told that all the believers after Abraham and his seed were Muslim, in the following verse we are told that Jesus and the disciples were also Muslims
In other words, we are told in the Quran that all the genuine believers from the time of Abraham onwards were Muslim. This includes prophets like Lot, Jacob and Isaac and also disciples like Peter, John, Mathew …..etc.
If we take a closer look at some of these names (Lot, Jacob, Isaac, Peter, Mathew …etc) and compare them to some of the current names in the world today, we find that some of these names are used by Jews (Jacob, Isaac … etc) and some others used by Christians (Peter, Mathew …etc) ….
None of these good Muslims, like Lot, Isaac, Jacob or Peter, had to go to any puppet establishment and change their names to a name like (Ali or Ahmad ) in order to become Muslims! did they ?
Thus to claim that only the names of the Arab Muslims are fit to be used by any new convert to Islam is in fact to show ignorance of the Quran.
In reality, the act of becoming a true Muslim makes it necessary for a person to abandon their idolatry and not their identity.
Furthermore, and since Islam is a universal faith that does not distinguish between any culture, race or colour, the act of insisting on a name change does not make the person a Muslim but in fact alienates the person from the universality of Islam.