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I am a Muslim revert. My mother is not Muslim.

I want to change my name. I already have it picked out, and I love it. I started using it with some of my friends and business associates.

But I wanted to tell my mother about it so I can change it on FB without shocking her, and then eventually I want to change it legally as well.

I know it is not required, but this is something I want to do for myself. I've always hated my birth name, and she knows this. I used to tell her when I was a child that I was going to change my name when I turned 18. I never went through with it, but she knows my feelings.

However, much to my surprise, she was totally against me changing my name. The name I want to take is Abdullah. She said she feels “very uncomfortable” with it.

She herself brought it up again after almost a week of the first conversation, and reiterated she felt “very uncomfortable” with it, and would always feel uncomfortable.

So what are my options? I'm 27 years old, married, and living far away from her. Is it disobeying her to change my name anyway? I don't care honestly what she herself calls me, or anyone else in my family. I just want to change it for myself, and for my interactions with other people.

  • Why do you want to change your name? It's not a requirement in Islam to change your name unless it means something polytheistic. – Sayyid Feb 17 '16 at 1:54
  • Because it means a lot to me, and I want my identity to reflect that. It's common among reverts, so I don't see why it should be surprising. – devbanana Feb 17 '16 at 2:16
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I will try to answer the 3 main questions you asked, before giving you my personal opinion/advice.

Can my mother prevent me changing my name?

Short answer is No, not Islamically or legally.

So what are my options?

At the end of the day, you have two options; change your name or not change your name. But bear with me until I'm done with the third question.

Is it disobeying her to change my name anyway?

i would not say it is considered "disobeying", but it's not "behave with them in this world kindly". Allah (SWT) says in Surat Luqman[14-15]

And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination[14]. But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do.[15]

Now here is what I wanted to say from the start (my personal opinion and advice):

Firstly, if you current name does not have any meaning that is related to Shirk or Kufr, then changing it is not needed, and it's not worth upsetting your mother. For instance, some non-Muslims use this name Abdul-Maseeh (Slave of Jesus), in that case you MUST change your name after embracing Islam.

Secondly, keeping your real name after embracing Islam is a very powerful message to stereotypical people who view Islam to be for Arabs only, or for those who make fun of Muslims because 60% of the males are Mohammad, and 70% of the females are Ayehsa and Fatimah. I'm not against those names AT ALL, they are beautiful names for people who are very close to our Hearts, but those stereotypical people need to know that Islam is for everyone, whether the name is Mohammad or Jackson, and whether the name is Fatimah or Amber, and regardless of the color and ethnicity.

Plus you never know, maybe when your mother knows that you are not changing your name because Islam tells you to obey your mother even if she is not Muslim, as long as she is not asking you to associate partners with Allah or she is not stopping you from worshiping Allah (SWT), her heart might melt towards Islam and its beautiful teachings.

Indeed Allah knows best!

  • So if I'm to summarize your answer for my own understanding, essentially you're saying that I am allowed to change my name either way, that it does not count as disobedience, but it might be better for dawah to her and to others if I didn't? – devbanana Feb 16 '16 at 17:46
  • Yes, that is correct.. But you can always take other things into consideration and disregard my opinion :) – Atata Feb 16 '16 at 18:15

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