This is actually my son's question but I could not find a satisfactory quick answer. The meaning from the derived Arabic root H-M-D (to praise) is praiseworthy, commendable, laudable. src

I am assuming his parents gave him this name, but his birth was 40 years before his call to prophet hood. How did his parents know he would be praiseworthy? But the 'praiseworthy' meaning would not be correct since all praise belongs to Allah. The first aya of the first sura says 'Al Hamdu Lilahi Rabil Alameen' 'Praise be Allah, the Lord of the Worlds'

By the age of 6, he was orphaned after both his parents died. Did he have a different name at birth, and changed after adoption into his uncle Abu Talib's family? This could be a possibility since he might have shown uniquely praiseworthy behaviors even in his first six years.

If we look it previous prophets, some had unique names but others had common names.

For example, Musa (hebrew: Moshe) means 'come out of water' in reference to his being found in a floating cradle in the Nile. It is a unique name.

In contrast Isa (ibn Meryem) commonly known as 'Jesus' original Aramaic name is 'Yeshua' (Joshua in English) was a common name among the bani Israel at that time.

According to my understanding the name 'Muhammad' was not common among the Arab tribes at that time. The seera says the name Muhammad was assigned by Allah. But this is vague since all things come from Allah. How was this name assigned to him?

I am sorry if I am asking a question with a simple and obvious answer.

  • His father died during the pregnancy of his mother. And it is Allah who gave him this name according syra books.
    – Medi1Saif
    May 24, 2018 at 6:52
  • Why do you think But the 'praiseworthy' meaning would not be correct since all praise belongs to Allah., there is a difference here we all praise to Allah being a creator/sustainer/god, but praising prophet is being a prophet/the guider to the whole ummah.
    – smali
    May 24, 2018 at 7:29

1 Answer 1


The name Muhammad (ﷺ) was given to the Prophet by his mother and grandfather.

The following are two traditions from the seerah by Ibn Kathir, about the reason behind the name:

وقال محمد بن إسحاق : فكانت آمنة بنت وهب أم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم تحدث أنها أتيت حين حملت برسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقيل لها : إنك قد حملت بسيد هذه الأمة فإذا وقع إلى الأرض فقولي : أعيذه بالواحد من شر كل حاسد في كل بر عامد ، وكل عبد رائد ، نزول غير ذائد ، فإنه عبد الحميد الماجد حتى أراه قد أتى المشاهد . وآية ذلك أنه يخرج معه نور يملأ قصور بصرى من أرض الشام فإذا وقع فسميه محمدا فإن اسمه في التوراة أحمد يحمده أهل السماء وأهل الأرض ، واسمه في الإنجيل أحمد يحمده أهل السماء وأهل الأرض ، واسمه في القرآن محمد

Muhammad b. Ishaq stated that Amina, daughter of Wahb and mother of the Messenger of God (SAAS), used to say that when she became pregnant with the Messenger of God (SAAS), a voice told her:

"You are pregnant with the lord of this nation; when he drops to the ground (in birth) say the words, 'I invoke for him the protection of the One God, from the evil of all who envy, from everyone committed to his oath and every prowling slave; may a champion protect me, for he is with the All-praised and All-glorious One, until I see him come into view.

And the proof of that is a light accompanying him that will fill the castles of Busa in Syria. And at his birth, then call him Muhammad, for in the Torah his name is "Ahmad" and the hosts of earth and heaven give him hamd, praise. In the Gospels his name is "Ahmad", the hosts of heaven and earth giving him hamd, praise. And his name in the Qur'an is "Muhammad", "The praised one."

The Beginning and the End ( البداية والنهاية ) by Ibn Kathir [English translation]

فلما كان اليوم السابع ذبح عنه ، ودعا له قريشا فلما أكلوا قالوا : يا عبد المطلب أرأيت ابنك هذا الذي أكرمتنا على وجهه ما سميته ؟ قال : سميته محمدا . قالوا : فلم رغبت به عن أسماء أهل بيته ؟ قال : أردت أن يحمده الله في السماء ، وخلقه في الأرض . قال أهل اللغة : كل جامع لصفات الخير يسمى محمدا كما قال بعضهم

إليك - أبيت اللعن - أعملت ناقتي إلى الماجد القرم الكريم المحمد

وقال بعض العلماء : ألهمهم الله عز وجل أن سموه محمدا لما فيه من الصفات الحميدة ليلتقي الاسم والفعل ، ويتطابق الاسم والمسمى في الصورة والمعنى

On the seventh day he made sacrifice for him and invited Quraysh to see him. When they had feasted, they asked, "O Abd al-Mutalib, what have you thought of naming this son of yours you have honoured?" "I have named him Muhammad," he replied. "Why", they asked, "have you preferred him not to have one of the names of his kinsfolk?" "Because I wanted God to praise him in heaven and His creatures to praise him on earth," he replied.

Language scholars say, "All that invites the qualities of good is named 'Muhammad'." As the poet said: To you, blameless as you are, I have urged on my mount, to him who is the glorious and noble master, the one 'Muhammad' (i.e. "the laudable one").

Some scholars say that God, the Almighty and Glorious, encouraged them to name him Muhammad for the praiseworthy qualities he possessed; so that word and deed be joined and that the name and the one named be appropriately congruent in form and concept.

The Beginning and the End ( البداية والنهاية ) by Ibn Kathir [English translation]

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