Can a Child Take His Stepfather’s Name?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel


Is it permissible for a child whose mother recently remarried to change his surname and adopt a new father’s name? The child, only seven years old, claims his birth father was mean and bad and thus refuses to take his name. What does Shari’a have to say about this?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

I pray you are in good faith and health.

Adopting Stepfather’s Name after Child’s Name

It would be permissible to change one’s father’s name to the stepfather’s name for social purposes without denying lineage if asked or concealing it entirely.

One has to remember not to deny any fatherly lineage. The shari’a has come to preserve and protect five fundamental values: religion (deen), life (nafs), lineage (nasl), intellect (‘aql), and property (maal). [Adam al-Atyubi, al-Bahr al-Muhit al-Thajjaj Fi Sharh Sahih al-Muslim]

Allah Most High says, “let your adopted children keep their family names. That is more just in the sight of Allah. But if you do not know their fathers, then they are (simply) your fellow believers and close associates. There is no blame on you for what you do by mistake, but ˹only˺ for what you do intentionally. And Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Quran, 33:5]

It has been reported by Ali (Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “whoever attributes his lineage to other than his father or links his freedom other than his master, then the curse of Allah, His angels, and people will be upon him, neither his obligatory nor his optional acts will be accepted. [Bukhari; Muslim] [Alusi, Ruh al-Ma’ani]

Adopting Surnames

One can change the surname, as it is not an indicator of one’s lineage. Many a time, it is an old family name or the name of a distant ancestor. Giving an adopted child your surname is not equivalent to changing his lineage – especially if you make it clear to him. See the links below:

Can Children Have the Surname of Their Mother?
Can a Woman Take Her Husband’s Surname?

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I pray this helps with your question.
[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied in the UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. He started his early education in the UK. He went on to complete the hifz of the Quran in India, then enrolled in an Islamic seminary in the UK, where he studied the secular and ‘Aalimiyya sciences. He then traveled to Karachi, Pakistan. He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for several years. He has taught hifz of the Quran, Tajwid, Fiqh, and many other Islamic sciences to children and adults onsite and online extensively in the UK and Ireland. He taught at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK, where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences. He currently resides in the UK with his wife. His interest is a love of books and gardening.