Naming our daughter Emaan

We’re expecting our baby daughter to arrive this fall InshAllah, and had the name Emaan/ Imaan in mind. However, a relative told us that we aren’t allowed to keep the name Emaan on its own. It has to be followed by a middle name, which we were going to keep as her father’s name as we did for our son. She suggested Emaan Fatima and said that whenever we call our daughter, we will have to say both names and arent allowed to just say Emaan.

Wa alaykum as-Salaam

Thank you for writing to us.

Ibn Hajar, quoting the scholars, deducted from the hadith of the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) two essential rules or guidelines with regards to naming children [Fath al-Bari].  They are:

1. Avoid names with bad meanings.

The Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) changed the name of one of the daughters of Umar (Allah be pleased with him). Her name was ‘Asiya (with an ‘ayn) which means disobedient and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) changed it to Jamila, which means beautiful [Muslim].  The name change of ‘Asiya to Jamila was also attributed to one of the wives of Umar (Allah be pleased with him), and Allah knows best [Tabaqat ibn Sa’d].

2. Avoid names that glorify (tazkiya) the person receiving the name.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) changed the name of his wife, Zaynab bint Jahsh. Her previous name was Barra which means pious. The Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) changed her name for it contained self-glorification, and also, he did not want it to be said that when he left her home that he left barra or piety.

Emaan is undoubtedly not a bad name. I have seen certain scholars make the argument that the name entails self-glorification. However, their argument does not seem all that convincing. Emaan is a quality that makes us believers. Having this quality does not mean that we are angels or infallible. I may have Emaan in my heart and yet err. Accordingly, I do not see any excessive glorification in the name Emaan, and similarly, I do not see any problem with you giving your daughter that name.

And Allah knows best.
Abdurragmaan Khan

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.