Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch
I am a new revert, and I took my Shahada on 03/10/2020. I have two questions relating to naming in Islam. First of all, my name is Jorge, which means earth-worker, or farmer, depending on the translation. I have gotten a lot of people urging me to pick a Muslim name, but I like my given name, and I’ve been told you should only change your name if the meaning is negative, which it isn’t. I’ve tried to look this up and come across so many different opinions I don’t know what to do.
The second question is about my last name. I read an article, and I forget where but it was on an Islamic website talking about the case of attributing your last name when you are born outside of wedlock. In my case, I was born outside of wedlock, but neither my father nor my mother was married at the time. Do I need to drop my father’s last name and switch to my mother’s maiden name to comply with Shar’ia?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
I am pleased to hear of your conversion and pray that Allah Most High blesses you and your loved ones with strong faith and the best of this life and the next.
Adopting an Arabic Name
You do not need to change your name, and there is no specific merit in doing so. Some have chosen to do so for various reasons, such as leaving behind one’s old life or adopting a new Islamic identity.
You are correct that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) only changed the names of a handful of Companions due to the bad meaning of their original names.
Companions such as Salman al-Farisi and Suhaib al-Rumi were non-arab converts to Islam, and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) never changed their names.
The lineage of a child born outside of wedlock is attributed to the mother. That only applies when the so-and-so son of so-and-so calls a person. For example, Zaid bin ‘Amr. The word bin is the son of in Arabic. Thus it is Zaid, son of ‘Amr.
However, the shared last name or family name is not the same. The last name is given to every family member and does not relate to lineage. Thus your last name, if it is not your father’s name, is permissible to keep.
Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.