People name their children to distinguish them from others and to call them by their names. Islam is a complete faith. It recognized this habit and its importance. Therefore, it gave a set of instructions on naming the child.
When must a child be named?
According to a hadith, a child is pledged with its aqeeqah; it is sacrificed on behalf of the child on the seventh day when it is given a name and the hair is shaved off its head. (Ashab-us-Sunan) Thus, the child must be named on the seventh day. According to some Ahadith, the child must be named promptly on birth. When Munzir bin abu Usaid was born his father took him to the Noble Prophet, (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) who took the child in his laps and asked the father its name. On being told his name, he said, “No, call him Munzir”. (Bukhari and Muslim) it is reported in a tradition that the Noble Prophet said, ” Last night a son was born to me, and I have named him Ibrahim after my grandfather, Ibrahim, (Alayhis -salam) (Muslim)
"Do not give your sons the names of Yasar, Najeeh or Aflah. You will ask for them. If they are not there, the person replying would say ‘not here’. These are four names; do not refer to me after adding to these names" (abu Dawood, Tirmizi)
Names that are preferred, and that are undesirable.
The name given to the child must be meaningful, lovely and good. On the Day of Resurrection, a person will be called by his name and the names of his parents. Therefore, a good name must be selected. (Abu Dawood) Allah, the Exalted, likes best the names Abdullah and Abdur Rahman. (Muslim)
Those names must not be given to the child, that affect his personality or become a cause of ridicule. The Messenger of Allah, (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) always changed names that were derogatory (Tirmizi) The name of one of the daughters of Sayyidna Umar was Asiyah (meaning, disobedient), the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) changed it to Jamilah. (Tirmizi and ibn Majah) Besides, the Noble Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) changed such names as Aziz, Utlah (hardness, thickness), Satan, Hukm, Ghurab (crow), Habab (snake, Satan). (abu Dawood) He also changed the names, Harb (war) into Silm (peace), Muztaja’ (one who lies down) into Mumbais (one who is prepared, ready), Banu az-Zania (the product of adultery) into Banu ar-Rushdah (good people) Banu al-Maghwiyah (one who misleads) into Banu ar-Rushdah.
We must not give names that intimate to ill omen or bad character. The grandfather of Sayyidna Sa’id bin al Musayyab presented himself before the Noble Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) asked him his name “Hizn” was the reply (meaning, hard ground, surliness). He said, “Your name is Sahl (easy) . He replied, “How can I change the name given to me by my father?” Sayyidna Sa’id says that from then on hardness of character is found among us. (Bukhari) Sayyidna Yahya bin Sa’ id says that Sayyidna Umar asked a person his name. He replied, ” Jamrah” (live coals “And the name of your father?” ‘ Shihab (meteor). “With whom are you connected? He replied, “Harqah” (burning). Sayyidna Umar asked him, “Where do you live?” “Harrat un-Nar” (heat of fire). “Where is it?” “Zat Lazza” (flames of fire). Sayyidna Umar e (Radhiallaho Anho) said to him, “Go home, quickly! The people of your house have perished from burning”. It turned out so truly (Malik in Muwatta)
The name selected for the child must be other than a name of Allah; thus, it should not be Ahad, Khaliq or Razzaq. It is permissible, however, to name the child Abdul Ahad, Abdus Samad or any other name of Allah compounded with Abdul.
When Sayyidna Hani came to Madinah with his people, they called him Abu Hakm. The Messenger of Allah, (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam), said, “Only Allah, the Exalted, is Hakm. He alone is the One Who decides. Why do they call you Abu Hakm?” He replied, “If a dispute arises among my community, they ask me to decide between them. Both the parties are happy with my decision”. He said, “This is commendable. We must settle the disputes of our folk. Say, do you have any son?” “I have three sons, Sharih, Muslim and Abdullah.” “Who is the eldest?” “Sharih is the eldest.” The Prophet said, “Your kuniyah (title) is Abu Sharih.( abu Dawood)
According to a hadith, on the Day of Resurrection, the worst of all persons in the eyes of Allah – and liable to punishment – will be he whom people will call Shahinshah.(King) Only Allah, the Exalted, is Shahinshah (meaning, King of the monarchs) and kingdom belongs to Him alone. (Muslim)
We must not give names to our children that indicate good fortune. Suppose the names to be Aflah (successful) Nafe’ (profitable), Ribah (beneficial), Yasr (easy). if in a gathering, someone calls out a person by such a name and he is not there, the answer “not here” might imply that this characteristic is lacking in that assembly. Ahadith says: Allah, the Exalted, likes most four phrases subhaan Allah, wal. hamd u lillah, wa la ilaha ill Allah and Allah u akbar.
Do not give your sons the names of Yasar, Najeeh or Aflah. You will ask for them. If they are not there, the person replying would say ‘not here’. These are four names; do not refer to me after adding to these names (abu Dawood, Tirmizi)
While naming their children, parents must ensure that the names they select signify servitude to Allah alone and to no false deity. They may not associate or bondage even to the name Nabi. Certain forbidden names include Abdul Uzza, Abdul Ka’bah, and Abdun Nabi. Similarly, parents must not give names to their children that emphasize love and romance. Some of these names are: Hiyam, Beef’a, Nihau, Sosan, Miyadah, Gadah, Ahlam. These mean ‘violent love’, ‘slim waist’, ‘large bosomed’, ‘fragrant flower’, ‘walks swinging to and fro’, ‘soft and delicate woman’, ‘dream’. Islam envisages Muslims as a people of remarkable attributes. When parents select vulgar and romantic names, they risk tainting the character of the child.
The Messenger of Allah,(Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) has encouraged his follower (Ummah) to call their children with meaningful names. He has suggested names of the Noble Prophets, (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) Abdullah or Abdur Rahman. This, because they may stay the best of Ummah and fulfil their duty diligently in guiding humanity to Islam and truth. The words of a hadith are: Keep the names of the Noble Prophets,(Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) Allah, the Exalted, loves most the names Abdullah and Abdur Rahman. The most truthful names are Harith and Humam. The most disliked names, and vulgar too, are Harb and Murrah (respectively, war and bitters
It is sunnah to use kuniyah (honorary title) for the child
The use of a kuniyah (honorary title) for the child creates in him feeling of self-reliance and nobility. Call him Abu so and so. He cultivates a sense of confidence in the society. When the designation is lovely and fitting and used in a light-hearted vein, he feels happy about it. This also teaches him how he may address his elders and those younger than him. It was the habit of the Noble Prophet, (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) , to give kuniyah to children. He called the brother of Sayyidna Anas (Radhiallaho Anho)
Abu Umair when he lost his bird the Noble Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) asked him, “What happened to Abu Umair Nugair (Bukhari and Muslim) The kuniyah may not necessarily refer to one’s own children; it may refer to anyone. For instance, Sayyidna Abu Bakr (Radhiallaho Anho) had no son by the name Bakr but his designation was Abu Bakr. The kunnyah of Sayyidna Umar (Radhiallaho Anho) was Abu Hafs. The kuniyah given to Sayyidah Aishah (Radhiallaho Anha) was umme Abdullah- Sayyidna Anas (Radhiallaho Anho) had as kuniyah Abu Hamzah and Sayyidna Khalid bin Waleed had Abu Sulaiman. Kuniyah may be given to all, young or old.
Some considerations upon naming the child.
If father and mother do not agree on a name, then it is the privilege of the father to name the child. The child is known by his father. This is the command given in the Noble Quran. (al-Ahzab, 33:5 ) The Noble Prophet, (Sallallaho alahe Wasallam) had named of his son, Ibrahim.(Muslim)
It is not permitted to give the child a contemptuous or a disliked name. It is not proper to select such names as which refer to child’s shortcoming as far as his body and appearance concern, such as Thagnay, Bhingay, Gungay, Kabray,. Kuloo, and the like. The Noble Qur’an has disallowed the use of names with the intention to tease (alHujurat, 49:11) lest children develop bad habits.
What about the designation Abul Qasim The Islamic scholars (Ulama) are agreed that the name of the Noble Prophet,(Sallallaho alaihe Wasallam) may be chosen for the child. An individual named his son Muhammad. People objected to it. He went to the Prophet and narrated his predicament. The Noble Prophet asserted, “Give your children my name. However, do not use my kuniyah because I am the one to divide. I divide among you (Muslim)
How is it to use the kuniyah (title) of the Noble Prophet Abul-Qasim? There are different opinions on this. Some Ulama have disallowed its use altogether. (Bukhar and Muslim) Others have concluded that it is correct to use it as reflected in some Traditions. yet others have opined that it is inadmissible to use both the name and the designation for the same child. (abu D awood) Some others have contended that the inadmissibility was during the lifetime of the Noble Prophet but now that he is passed-away it is permissible to use both the name and the kuniyah. (abu Dawood ) This last conclusion is superior.