He Gave My Children Christian Names


Question and Answer Details


He Gave My Children Christian Names


I am a Muslim lady that fears Allah. I am married to a non-Muslim man that does not practice any religion. Not long ago I was pregnant and I sought advice before the birth of my sons from an imam as to what I should name the children. The imam told me the children should be what the father is. Now I have let my husband register the children and he has given them Christian names. My family members have turned their back on me. Please, please tell me what I should do as I fear I have I done the wrong thing. I hope my question finds you and that you may have an answer for me.



Name of Counsellor

Abdullah Abdur Rahman, `Abdul-Lateef Abdullah


Bonding, Adoption & Fostering


In the name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. May He bestow His peace and blessings on His messenger, Muhammad, his family, Companions, and all of those who follow them sincerely.




This question is interesting because it highlights an important reality in relation to the world of inter-faith marriage. According to the shari’ah of Islam based on the Sunni schools of jurisprudence, it is agreed that a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man. It is very troubling and sad to me to hear that you married a non-Muslim man without any apparent objection by anyone in your family (as it is not permissible in Islam), and now, simply because of the non-issue of your children’s names, your family has decided to turn on you.


As for the impermissibility of a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim man, I refer to Ustadha Zaynab Ansari:


“Muslim women are not permitted to marry non-Muslim men, Jewish or otherwise.

The clear proofs of this prohibition are in the Qur'an and the Sunna of the Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace.

For example, the Qur'an says,


 {" And do not marry the idolatresses until they believe, and certainly a believing maid is better than an idolatress woman, even though she should please you; and do not give (believing women) in marriage to idolaters until they believe, and certainly a believing servant is better than an idolater, even though he should please you; these invite to the fire, and Allah invites to the garden and to forgiveness by His will, and makes clear His communications to men, that they may be mindful"}(Al-Baqarah, 2:221)


The only exception to this verse is the following, which permits Muslim men to marry Christian and Jewish women:


{ " This day are (all) good things made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And so are the virtuous women of the believers and the virtuous women of those who received the Scripture before you (lawful for you) when ye give them their marriage portions and live with them in honor, not in fornication, nor taking them as secret concubines. Whoso denieth the faith, his work is vain and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter" }  (Al-Maidah, 5:5)


The consensus of scholars from the Sunni tradition is that Muslim men are permitted to marry Christian and Jewish women under certain circumstances, even though it is better for them to seek Muslim wives. Muslim women, however, can only marry Muslim men.


Islamic law presupposes that the children will take the religion of their father. Therefore, if a Muslim woman were to marry a non-Muslim man, there is a legitimate concern that her children would not be raised as Muslims. Unlike a Muslim man, who is required by his religion to respect his Christian or Jewish wife's beliefs, a non-Muslim man is in no way required by his religion to respect his Muslim wife's beliefs. Therefore, the minimum requirement for a Muslim woman is that her husband share her faith.


Returning to the time of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, there is no evidence that he permitted Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men. To the contrary, there is strong evidence that Muslim women refused to marry non-Muslim men until they sincerely embraced Islam.”


Your current issue of your husband choosing Christian names for your children appears to be only the tip of the iceberg. How will the children be raised given that their father is not Muslim?


In terms of names, the Prophet encouraged the Muslims only to choose good names for children. There really is no such thing as a Muslim name, per se. There are Arabic names and there are names of Allah, names of the Prophet, etc. Otherwise, we should seek to choose good names for children that have a good meaning. Again, I refer to Ustadha Zaynab Ansari in responding to a European convert to Islam:


“You are perfectly entitled to keep your name. Ian is a fine name. As long as your name does not carry polytheistic connotations, and is a dignified, respectable name, then there is no problem with keeping your birth name. Don't let your fiancé’s parents pressure you’ve polite, but firm, and tell them that you would prefer to keep the name your parents gave you. It needs to be understood that Ian, or John, or Susan, can be every bit as Muslim as Ahmad, Omar, and A`isha. Having an Arabic name does not make you a better Muslim.


As to what the community thinks, they need to give you the benefit of the doubt, instead of jumping to conclusions because you have a European name.

It is praiseworthy (not obligatory) to adopt a Muslim name, but the choice of whether and when to do returns to the person themselves, and they should not feel pressured to do so simply because of what people say.”


As you can see, there is nothing in Islam that specifically says that a Muslim must have a certain name, as long as it does not have a negative connotation or meaning.


What’s ironic to me is that your family has turned their back on you for the names given to your children, but apparently did not care that you married a non-Muslim in the first place. The former is a non-issue while the latter is very serious indeed, as it refers to the very legitimacy of your marriage and family life as a whole in the eyes of Allah. My heart truly goes out to you sister for the lack of guidance that you have received on this very important matter. This issue highlights the absolute need we all have for knowledge and why we must be always in the business of upgrading our knowledge of Islam on an ongoing basis, particularly in regard to such important life matters.


Clearly, for you right now the greater issue is not the names of your children but the fact that your marriage itself is not permissible according the shari’ah. This issue must be dealt with right away for the legitimacy of your marriage and family life.I strongly urge you to seek out a local Muslim scholar in your area that can help you to address and proceed with this issue in an appropriate manner.


From counselor Abdullah abdur Rahman


Thank you for writing to us. We appreciate the challenges you are facing and offer the following thoughts for your consideration.

First, we are not sure how to say this to you except to say that your marriage to this non-Muslim man is invalid according to Islamic teachings. That has to be said at the outset, because the main question you are asking about, what to name the children, can then be placed in its proper context. What surprises us is that the imam you spoke to never brought to your attention the Islamic teaching forbidding Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men. We also bring your attention to the responses below from counselors and Islamic scholars who have elaborated on the prohibition of Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men.

Second, because you are a Muslim woman who fears Allah, we urge you to be even more vigilant in what steps you take regarding your marriage. Since your husband does not follow any religion, it is strongly recommended that you offer him the advice that he should become a Muslim. It is clear that if the husband becomes a Muslim, your marriage could be considered valid with the requisite repentance on your part. In addition, your children will be raised as Muslims if the father himself is Muslim. In general, the whole family will benefit greatly if your husband accepts Islam.

Finally, you are in a very precarious situation right now because until and unless your husband actually becomes a Muslim, you are living in a state of sin being married to a non-Muslim man. Please do not delay in resolving this situation and involving your family and other religious scholars in your area to help you through this rather complex and emotionally challenging situation. We wish you the best. Most of all, make lots of du`aa’ (supplication) to Allah to guide you to what is best for your faith, your family, and your future.


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