Sorry for the absence, guys. Veritable pile of schoolwork.

In my religion class, we’ve been discussing Islam. Besides getting a greater appreciation for the religion (I would say I’ve actually been particularly struck by it; it’s a beautiful religion), I’ve picked up on some of the naming conventions. People often name their children after some of the earliest converts to the religion, in addition to Muhammad himself. Remember, the name of the prophet is the most popular one in the world! I thought I’d do a list of name often given in the Muslim community, with some prophet names and early converts thrown in. I don’t profess any expertise, though, so if I’m wrong about something, please, correct me!


  • Muhammad -Probably the most common name given to Muslim baby boys, Muhammad is the name of the final prophet, whose life is to be held as an example for all Muslims. I like the sound, but this is very meh to me, as a name.
  • Ali – 4th caliph, and Muhammad’s son-in-law/nephew. I love this as a nickname on a boy, but then again I tend to love “girly” names on the gentlemen. I feel it can work as a full name, but it’s awfully short. As an out-of-culture use, maybe a distinctive nickname for Alexander?
  • Achmad -Perhaps a variant of Ahmad? That’s all I can find on google search. This is my professor’s first name, and I’ve heard it elsewhere, too. I think the sound is lovely and distinctive. I like Ahmad significantly less.
  • Khalil -I knew a kid named Khalil in high school, and I thought it was pretty awesome. The Kh combination and general sound make for a distinctive name, indeed. I can’t think of any nicknames, though. It means “good friend.”
  • Hussein -Hussein is actually the name of one of the grandsons of Muhammad, a son of Ali. A follower of his father, he didn’t think that Mu’awyah had a claim to the caliphate, which he (Mu’awyah) had turned into a more monarchic system. Eventually, he was killed by Mu’awyah’s people. I think the sound is really cool, the fact that it’s Obama’s middle name cooler, but the whole Saddam thing really puts a damper on usability.
  • Hasan -Hussein’s brother, Hasan was more laid back about Mu’awyah’s leadership. He was extremely pious, though. He was poisoned by one of his wives, and is considered a martyr by Shi’ite Muslims. As a name, I think Hasan’s awesome. It’s got the two syllable ends in -en fashion while still retaining originality. Two thumbs up.


  • Aisha -I’ll admit, I thought Aisha was a made up name when I first saw it. Pretty, but insubstantial. Eventually I figured out that it was a real name, and now I think it’s beautiful. Aisha was the third wife of Muhammad, and generally regarded as his favorite. She was an early scholar of Islam, contributing much to the hadiths, or accounts of Muhammad’s life, which in turn are part of Sharia, or Islamic law. Some scholars laud her for being a role model for women’s participation in the community. I think the sound is beautiful, the name familiar without being overly popular, and the woman a great role model. You can’t go wrong.
  • Khadija -Muhammad’s first wife, and the first convert to Islam. She was 15 years his senior, and a successful business woman. The sound is beautiful, and the woman another self-made role model. I would actually love to meet a Khadija.
  • Fatima -Muhammad’s daughter, and his only child to reach adulthood. The sound really is lovely, but I think having Fat right in someone’s name is not a good way to start life in this country.
  • Alya/Alia/Aaliyah -A beautiful name meaning high, lofty, or sublime. The spelling Aaliyah was popularized by the singer of the same name, but I prefer Alia. The pronunciation is intuitive, and it avoids fangirl accusations. Alya is likely to be mispronounced here. Thumbs up.
  • Noor -Means light. I’ve seen this thrown around as a nickname for Elinor, and I approve wholeheartedly of that, or as a full name. It’s just simple and beautiful.

I stuck to the better known names, I know, but I find Arabic names in general beautiful. I usually prefer “i” Anglicisations to “ee” ones (Khalil v. Khaleel, Karim v. Kareem , etc). What about you?

What are your favorite Arabic names?