Question: I have a question regarding Muslims changing their entire name after coming into the faith of Islam.
Islam does not consider it an obligation for any new convert to Islam whose mother tongue is not Arabic to change it to an Arabic name or other language. Assallamu Alaikum, I became Muslim in June 2011, and just wanted to know that even if it is not mandated to change your name, can you do this as a symbol of such a total life change? As a convert of 10+ years myself, I can tell you that part of the conversion process is the eventually recognition that you are the same person that you were before and that Islam is a natural part of life. When I converted to Islam, I did not embrace Arabism, neither did I reject my parents, close friends nor the teachers and other adults in the community who helped raise me and make me who I am. The Lamppost Education Initiative (LEI) offers expert analysis of current events which impact Muslims in the West as well as offerings in the classical Islamic disciplines in written, published, and audio-visual formats.
Although my driver's liscense is from Florida and my car is registered in Florida, I am registered to vote in Vermont and have lived in Vermont for the past three years.
To begin, I looked up Vermont State Courts online to find out which one handles name changes. Then, I emailed my dad to ask him for a certified copy of my birth certificate (as that's #2 on the required documentation list), and about a week later I received it in the mail (thanks Dad!). When I got there, I found out that I was supposed to call the number first to make an appointment to then sign the form in front of the Register of the Court (who apparently is the reception lady at the Probate Court office). When she was ready, I signed the form in front of her (with my birth name) and gave it to her to be typed up.
She told me the Judge would sign it, and I would receive two certified copies of the offical name change by mail in 10-15 days.


Then I set out to change everything else in my life (bank accounts, drivers license, birth certificate, car registration, insurance, etc). To change my name on my social security card, I went to Social Security Online and printed out the Application for Social Security Card form. Once I received my new social security card, I was be able to change my name with my school. While I was in Florida in March 2003, I got my drivers license and car registration changed.
I have not changed my name on my Florida birth certificate because of legal complications encountered when I was trying to change the sex designation on it.
Even those that are second, third generation Muslims when their parents became Muslim they changed their last names. Rather, it is only highly recommended for one to do so when the meaning of one’s name is something offensive or overly presumptuous in sound, like one indicating that one is pure or the like. Rather, their last names were connected to tribal affiliations or titles attaching them to certain tribal or regional sectors, like Qurashi, Khazraji, Makki, etc.
I feel as though I want to share with everyone what for me is the most wonderful thing that happened to me.
But I do think that there is something to converts adopting new identities as a way of breaking with our past. African-Americans, we have our own issues with names, but until we can be recognized as legitimate Muslims with names like Keith, Crystal and Michael, Islam is always going to be viewed as a foreign religion.
So with all due respect, I generally advise new converts not to change their names unless they fall within the above clarifications Ustadh Abdullah gave in the original answer.


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F______, the bank teller simply filled out a bunch of forms for me, both for changing my name on my accounts and to get new ATM cards.
I understood that to change your first name is okay, but to change your last name is not permissible. During the Prophet Muhammad’s (saws) time, he changed the names of a number of women whose names were too pious sounding, like the name Barra (ultra-pious). This, I think stems from a number of things, but something that I suspect is unique to the contemporary Western mindset. I have two children whom now carry my last name now, and I am bothered that I may have made a mistake in giving them my last name. I believe that we assume that there is something anit-Islamic about our past, when that simply is not the case. The Companions, as Ustadh Abullah said, only changed their names when they implied something pretentious or idolatrous. This same trend can be detected in the European and other traditions (although I plan to exhaust more research on the matter) such that last names that are familiar today originate in some sort of occupation, tribal affiliation, or regional ascription. So, in the end, you have not done anything inappropriate by giving your children your last name unless they are not biologically yours.



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