Facts about Arabic Names
Arabic countries are mostly Muslim predominant countries and thus they are synonymously known as Muslim countries too. With the Arabic language finding the most important place in Islam, many Muslims prefer to use Arabic names or the Ism as it is called. Muslims are considered to be staunchly religious and strictly adhere to their faith in all possible ways and means. Even when it comes to naming the babies, Arabians prefer to use purely Arabic names that would represent the ninety eight attributes of Allah, their God. It is normally found that a baby’s name is quite long and consists of various parts.
They do not follow our familiar format of First Name, Middle Name and Last Name as we do in Christian and Jewish countries. The name would include:
Ism (Given Name) – These are the personal names of the person with which he or she is identified as. Most of these names are in Arabic with a beautiful meaning and in normal parlance and other languages they are used as nouns or adjectives.
Laqab (Nick Name) – This is the description and identification of the person.
Nasab (Parent Name) – Ibn (bint) is the word to represent this and it means son (daughter) and describes the heritage of a person. There are many who use this Nasab in a long chain process that would help trace the person’s ancestors. It finds a rare usage in modern times.
And finally Nisba (Family Name) – This represents the person’s ancestor’s tribe, country or city. The use of this too has reduced in modern times.
When we get into a deep analysis of the various names we would end up in a statistics about the Arabic names which would show that majority of the names comes with a prefix of Abd Al which means ‘Servant of the’. This is mostly represented in a more easy to spell form called ‘Abdul’. Similarly, Al or El is used to represent the person which means ‘The’ in English.
One interesting fact about the Arabic names is that with the addition of a single alphabet a masculine name can be converted into a feminine name. The two alphabets used for this purpose are A and H. For e.g. Khalid is a masculine name and Khalid(a) is a feminine name. So is Abdul a masculine name and its feminine version is Abdull(ah). Other such popular examples include Hashim – Hashima, Iyya – Iyyah etc.
One can find yet another common factor that a considerable number of the Arabic names start with Abd Al (Meaning ‘Servant of the’), Al or El (meaning ‘The’ and in some cases can even represent the tribe, clan or origin), Abu (meaning ‘Father of’), Ibn (Meaning Song of). Examples for the above are: if a person’s name is Al – Amir it means ‘The Prince’, Al – Fakhir means ‘The Proud’, Abu Fakir means Father of Fakir’, Similarly Abd – Al – Jabbar means “Servant of the Mighty’ and Abd – Al – Sami means ‘Servant of all hearing’.
With changing times, though the Muslims have stuck to their tradition and culture, but to be more practical and to avoid wrongly spelling out their names, they have shortened it in such a way that it doesn’t divert away from their traditional norms.
Filed under: Learn Arabic
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