Islamic marriage advice and family advice

How do I convince my in-laws that it is not mandatory to change my name to revert to Islam?

Muslim converts issues

Muslim converts often face challenges from family and friends.


I am an Indian, and a recent revert to Islam. I have been learning about Islam and Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) since the past 4 months now.

I was introduced to Islam by my best friend, who is a muslim. When we decided to marry, I started to learn about the prophet and his teachings, and I found it so fascinating and peaceful that I decided to revert to Islam.

My soon to be in-laws have been providing me with books and articles to help me learn more about the religion since the past few months now.

However, a few weeks ago they told me that I have to change my name for the Nikah. Through my research, I had found that one has to change his/her name only if the name has non-islamic religious meanings or means evil/bad. My name is "Navneeta", which means 'like butter' in Sanskrit. It does not have any religious roots, nor does it mean anything evil or bad. I want to keep my name, as it is an extension of my father's name.

But my in-laws now say that unless I change my name, I cannot be a true muslimah. The reasons they have given me are:

  1. The name has to be or arabic origin. Mine is of sanskrit origin, so not acceptable. The Nikahnama cannot have a non-arabic/non-muslim name.
  2. The name has to be from one of the recognized holy books, e.g. Quran. Bible, Torah etc. Since my name has Indian-Sanskrit roots, it does not meet the above needs.
  3. Without a muslim name, I will be denied the visa to visit Mecca, and so I will not be able to do Hajj, a mandatory pillar of Islam.
  4. It is Sunnah for parents to give their children good and meaningful names. After marriage, I will be their daughter, and if I do not change my name I am taking away this Sunnah from them.
  5. Their families will disown them, when they come to know that their son married a non-muslim since without a muslim name I am not a complete muslimah.

I do not want to disrespect my elders or be the cause of any pain or sadness to them. But my name is very important to me; it is my identity and an extension of my father's identity too. I am not able to part wit it.

I believe in Allah and I know that Islam is not just for arabs, but for the entire humanity. My name is not offensive to Allah, the prophet or Islam, so why can't I keep it?

I have tried all means to convince them, but my marriage is at stake now. My fiance is stuck in the middle. He cannot leave his parents for me, neither does he want to marry anyone else.

Please guide me on how to convince his family to accept my name.

Thank you.



Tagged as: , , , , ,

8 Responses »

  1. Sister,

    Some say that it is preferable to change ones name to an Islamic name as it will distinguish him/her from the non Muslims is not mandatory.

    I am a revert to Islam myself and my birth name simply means "brave". I kept my birth name and it has never been an issue.

    If your original name does not comprise or imply something forbidden in Islam., then you are permitted to retain it.


  2. Assalaamualaikam

    So long as your name does not mean something un-Islamic, there's not a requirement to change it. Some people may feel drawn to choosing a new name, or decide to include an Arabic name in their full name, while keeping the rest of their name the same. Others may keep their name as it is.

    Keeping your name as it is doesn't mean you can't be a Muslimah. And of course you can go on Hajj. Islam is for everyone, not just people with particular names.

    If you wish to keep your first name as it is, one option you could consider is to include an Arabic name as a middle name - that would reflect your identity as your father's daughter and your identity as a Muslimah, and might satisfy the demands of your fiance's family.

    If they are unreasonably pushy about this matter, you may find that the key issue isn't actually what you're called, but that they have other concerns about things, such as whether you are converting solely for marriage or because you believe. While you can do your best to explain to them that you truly accept Islam, if they close their minds to this, that reflects badly on them rather than on you.

    Maybe try to talk to them about how important your name is, and the reasons why you don't want to change your whole name. You could raise the idea of an Islamic name being incorporated into your name, but only if you are comfortable with this. If they remain stuck in their way of thinking, you could ask a local imam to discuss the matter with them, and show them some of the posts found on this website, in which people have asked about whether they need to change their names.

    I pray that Allah helps you find your footing on the straight path, and that His guidance brings you peace and comfort, sister.

    Midnightmoon editor

  3. Although the name factor is a bit controversial within the contemporary Muslim Society, too much emphasis on raking it up is unnecessary. The roots of origin, ethnic identity, traditional cultures, linguistic bonds etc are things which link people to their heritage. This is the reason Allah the most High envisages on understanding the Diversity (Quran - 49:13). Indonesians pride in having their own name which have no roots in Arabic and nobody stops them from visiting Holy Places of Makkah and Madina. Same is the case with the population of Western African-origin. Even back home in Tamil Nadu & Kerala, names exists like Rajakumaran, Muthu Muhammad, Gnanasekar Aliyar, Abdullah Kannan, Thangal, Musaliar etc Though the Editor - Midnightmoon has summed up succinctly, my best suggestion for you would be to select and add an alias name preferably of Ummahat-ul-Momineen (Mothers of the Believers/Prophet's Family) in order to satisfy the community whereas you can still keep the original name as exist in legal documents. For eg. Navneeta (alias) Khadeeja.

  4. Salaams,

    India is a Hindu country currently ruled by a right wing Hindu party (BJP) with its Prime Minister as Modi who is responsible for the murder of 5000 Muslims in the state of Gujarat in 2002 while he was a Chief Minister there. BJP and all its sister org s like RSS,VHP,Bajrang dal are basically anti-Muslim.

    There were responsible for the demolition of Babri mosque in 1992 and almost all anti-muslim riots since 1947.

    Love-Jihad( Conspiracy by Indian Muslims boys lure Hindu girls to marry & convert to Islam on a massive scale), which is absolutely a lie, is their latest propaganda tool to divide Hindus & Muslims. before elections to polarize votes..

    The boys family might be insisting on name change for your's & their own safety.. Think over the matter you don't want to jeopardize the marriage,your fiancé as well as his families security,just for a name, do you.?

  5. Asalamu alaikum,

    Welcome sistet to Islam. All i have to say is keep the name which your father gave you. As long the meaning is not bad as you said no one has the right to take that away. Dont change your name to your future husbands name or watever name your future in-laws may say.

    ma salama...

  6. Assalam alaikum,

    Dr. Zakir Naik has addressed this issue in several of his videos--if you search for it on youtube, you can show that your in-laws.

    In the case where changing your name isn't necessary because it doesn't have an unIslamic meaning, is it possible to change your first name, but make your current name your second or middle name? Perhaps the both of you could compromise so that you don't have to give up the name given by your father. If you do decide to change your name, maybe you could choose something that sounds similar to your current name or has the same meaning.

    As for the reasons they have provided, you may want to look into if there are challenges for getting a Hajj visa with your name by doing some more research. If there is, and you want to perform Hajj, that reason alone may influence your decision. None of the reasons they have provided would prevent you from being a true Muslimah.

    Whatever you decide, try not to take it as a chore, but try to think of the benefits and how you can come to some common grounds. If they become pushy and possessive over the name to choose, you may want to rethink if this is the family you want to marry into. Their behaviour around this matter may tell you a lot.

    May Allah ease your difficulties, Ameen.

  7. If they give you a hard time getting a visa to Hajj then you can get an official certificate signed by the local Imam saying that he witnessed your Shahada and that you are an official Muslimah.

    And your current name is beautiful, just slip a little Arabic something in to make a middle name and you are set..except you have to decide what you want people to verbally call you.

    Salam sister,

  8. Sister,
    Assalamo Alaikum

    I read and reread your post and couldnt hold from replying to your post as I have been in a similar situation before, just that I was in the shoes of your Fiance.
    I understand that faith and Names(which are not Islamically offensive) are two different things and not to be corelated as name isnt a proof of faith.

    And I also know, that had it been any other country, your in laws maybe would not have made name change a mandate.
    Sister, first you carefully and deeply need to think, why have you accepted Islam. If its for the sake of Allah only, then you should not feel sad about it, instead just keep praying Istekhara prayers and Inshallah , you will find a way ahead in your decision.
    If its for the sake of getting married to him, let me tell you that it will be a futile effort and marriage might fall apart.

    Now, regarding your future in-laws, as sister Recovering mentioned above, India is no more a safe haven for interfaith marriages. It will be difficult, unsafe, even more in the coming years. So, they might be asking for a name change so that they can trust you with your decision and they might not fall into any sort of traps laid by extremeists groups here. Atleast that was the case with my parents, but unfortunately the guy was not even open for discussion over this. I believe that a person with faith will atleast be open to any sort of discussion over name change, in the end its personal choice indeed and all about one's priorities in life after accepting Islam.

    Sister, we all fall weak in life for something or the other and that weakness leads to us being fooled. Some sisters on this forum got fooled by guys for being naive, for being tempted, for trusting them. I was fooled over my faith as he knew I had history of rejecting one proposal purely based on faith. So, he fooled me with this thing and I fell into the trap and lost my very precious 2 years of life. But again, that was a test of Allah swt and its only due to HIM that I am able to live my life in a peaceful way today.

    What I can suggest here is that you are free not to change your name legally, but as many here advised, adding a middle name or alias wont hurt. It will just give you more sense of belonging specially in a country like us where you very well know how Muslims are thought about.
    Also,in my opinion, adding alias or middle name for the sake of one relationship doesnt do any damage, instead it can only simplify the life ahead with kids.

    Please do lot of Istekhara prayers, you can keep crying in front of HIM, talk to HIM, keep praying, asking Allah whats best for you, and Inshallah he will show you the path. HE does; in the end its only HIM who loves us unconditionally, not his creations.

Leave a Response