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I have a very common muslim name like Muhammad Öztürk. I live in western europe.

I think about adding a secular (non-christian) second given name like Louis/Loic (french version) or Ludwig (german version). My new name would be like "Muhammad Louis Öztürk" or maybe "Louis Muhammad Öztürk".

Is there any religious reason not to do this? I know it's unusual and doesn't fit the local traditions. But is there actually anything about this in The Quran, Hadiths, or the rest of Fiqh? If so, where exactly?

Some clarifications and explanations:

  • I do practice my religion overtly and I will continue to do it. I do not want to deny who I am. I talk and will talk about my religion. I also do want to keep my first given name.
  • I don't want to hide my given name (Muhammad) by abbreviating it. So I would never call myself "Louis M. Öztürk".
  • I want to do this to mitigate some discrimination. I just want to counter the power of stereotypes and the first impression. Upon just reading or hearing my name some non-muslim people who haven't met me yet have weird ideas of what I think or how I will behave or just have a strange feeling about me. I guess this is a disadvantage for me in applications, customer aquisitions, etc. I'm sure every muslim has experienced this. There's also a ton of scientific sociological and psychological literature about this topic, see e.g. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2010/11/22/fake-cvs-reveal-discrimination-against-muslims-in-french-job-market/ . With such an unusual name I guess I wouldn't fall in the usual categories which might help sometimes. Some people might want to talk about my name etc. Then I'm in personal contact. If people then dislike me I'm okay with it. Let's take the case of an application: Perhaps 50 people apply for the same position. Let's say I am among the top group of 10 equally well suited individuals. But the manager responsible for the recruiting is supposed to do just five job interviews. So she'll throw out some names. She'll probably think she does it randomly. But probably she is influenced by subtle clues from the peoples' photos looks, her surrounding, her mood etc. I'm afraid my minority name might be factor in this process.
  • My idea is based on a simple cost-benefit analysis. The process of thinking about changing my name and doing it just costs me a couple of hours and euros. My friends and family wouldn't suffer from it. So the cost is very low. The upside might be an additional job interview. The chance to get this soley through an additional first name is quite low. But the payout might be huge. So there is a notable expected value. and maybe I'll get a couple of additional customers during my lifetime. So it seems to me that the benefits outweigh the cost. The picture would change if my plan violated my faith. Then I surely wouldn't do it. As my knowledge in Islamic law is very limited I'm reaching out to you.
  • I'm talking about forms of discrimination which partly take place unconsciously. So antidiscrimination law does not help. So don't tell me to talk to lawyers, human right organizations etc.
  • Certainly it would be better if there were no wrong stereotypes among non-muslims. But until we get there I will probably be dead. So don't tell me to go into politics... I just want to see some improvements for me now.
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I'm also Muslim working in europe and I don't see 'that' much of a discrimination to feel the necessity to change my name. Make your work speak louder than your name. –  Hasan Khan Jul 22 '12 at 8:30
    
@HasanKhan. Europe is a big place, and it must be expected that the amount of overt and covert discrimination faced by religious and ethnic minorities will vary from place to place. –  TRiG Nov 15 '12 at 18:29

5 Answers 5

I am aware about the discrimination and preconceived notions & bias a person might have to face with a muslim name these days.

First to establish if a person can have multiple names... the prophet (pbuh) had multiple names/titles mustafa, ahmad, alamin etc....so yes you can have multiple

In your situation there are two things...

1) First Impressions

For the first impression I would recommend using muslims names like "Sad" or "Ayesha" etc.

2) Working equation

For the on going working equation, you should tell people you are muslim... This is becoz they might offer you alcohol or non halal food and then you have one of two options either tell them you are muslim or do haram things. Also, if they know you are muslim...this is also an opportunity to change their opinion about muslims without talking religion and that is by being at your best behavior. this is a kind of dawah too.

But here I also feel these are the best days to wear a hijab, grow a beard or to carry muslim names. Just imagine if someone doesn't give you a job because you say "Laa illaha ilalah, muhammadur rasool ilah" then it becomes Allah's responsibility to feed your family.

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As a Muslim (with a hard to pronounce name to boot!) living in the western world I've pondered this one a lot. I know only of two considerations from the Islamic point of view when it comes to names:

First, the name you choose must not be objectionable in anyway.

Narrated AbudDarda': The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: On the Day of Resurrection you will be called by your names and by your father's names, so give yourselves good names.

Sunan Abi Dawud

Second, you must not change the name of your father.

Sa'd bin Abu Waqqas (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet () said, "He who (falsely) attributes his fatherhood to anyone besides his real father, knowing that he is not his father, will be forbidden to enter Jannah."

Al-Bukhari and Muslim

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I've found this answer from this source.
According to the answer if the name you chose does not have a bad meaning and the meaning of the name doesn't contradict the Islamic belief then its fine. You chose name you like. Allah knows best.

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Welcome to the site! It's great that you provided a source; please use the "quote" button to outline which parts of your answer are sourced. Also, everything must be in English, or translated if originally from a non-English source. –  ashes999 Jul 22 '12 at 16:57
    
Thank you. Not sure! tried to improve it though.. –  Zizzo Jul 24 '12 at 8:53

I don't see an issue with taking Western names any more than a Muslim adopting a Chinese name, as long as it's neutral. I have lived in Australia and the US for a while, it's not always about "discrimination". Sometimes it's about fitting in and adopting the same culture, to indicate that you're not trying to turn the local culture into the Middle East. If you do it with the intention of dakwah, all the better.

A name should be fine as long as it doesn't suggest any worship of something other than Allah. Something like Mercury or Christine would not be acceptable.

I'd discourage from using names of Westernized Abrahamic figures, like Joseph (Yusuf), Mary (Maryam), because these are often associated with Biblical figures. Maybe some names like Sarah which happen in both contexts are fine.

But IMO, a neutral name is fine, like Louis or Ludwig. You might also want to consider Westernizing your own name, like the footballer Zinedine Zidane.

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Salam Alaikum, your answer contains no citations. Please provide citations to back up your answer, also what would be the Problem with calling your self Joseph if it is the same as calling your self Yusuf? I mean these biblical figures you mention are mentioned in the Quran. So would it be bad to call one self Abraham instead of Ibraheem? –  Mujahid مجاهد Feb 6 '13 at 2:50
    
@AlUmmat, Waalaikumsalam. It's more of a cultural question than a religious one, and a lot of citations from scholars would probably be culturally biased as well. If you want to call yourself Joseph, I personally don't see harm in it, but in my experience, you'll get discrimination from Muslims who are not used to the English translation. –  Muz Feb 6 '13 at 4:08
    
I understand, I was just trying to point something out in your answer. –  Mujahid مجاهد Feb 6 '13 at 4:17

My family is from Bangladesh - an Islamic country. Our tradition is to have both Bengali & muslim (Arabic) names.

Obviously this is no way directly answers your question, as the motivation is different. Here it was a question of how a people can assert both their own identity as well as a religious one. I can't quote any sources on this.

Your question is how to accommodate your immediate environment. I don't doubt that levels of Islamophobia vary greatly across Europe. It appears that you've put a great deal of thought into it.

Have you discussed it with your friends and family?

Personally I don't think it is an especially bad idea. Its not as though you are entirely letting go of your name, but only adding to it. It allows yourself to introduce yourself in different ways.

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