Fatwa: # 18455
Category: Misc. Fiqh
Country: South Africa
Date: 28th January 2010


Imam, i need to find out what Islam, says about naming a girl Isabella.


Imam, i need to find out what Islam, says about naming a girl Isabella.



In the name of Allāh, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Assalāmu ῾alaykum wa Rahmatullāhi Wabarakātuh


Naming one’s child with an appropriate name is the right of a child upon their parent.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) has said in a hadīth:

إِنَّكُمْ تُدْعَوْنَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِأَسْمَائِكُمْ وَأَسْمَاءِ آبَائِكُمْ فَأَحْسِنُوا أَسْمَاءَكُمْ

“Indeed, on the Day of Judgment you will be called by your names and the names of your fathers.  Therefore, give yourselves good names.” –Abu Dawūd


For this reason, our complete way of life has also advised us on what we should name our children.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) has mentioned in a hadīth narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar (r.a.):

أَحَبُّ الأَسْمَاءِ إِلَى اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ وَعَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ رواه الترمذي

“The most beloved of names to Allah is Abdullah and Abdur Rahman.” –narrated by Imam Tirmidhī


These particular names are so beloved to Allah because they denote servitude to Allah.  For this reason, other names denoting servitude to Allah are also included under the broader meaning of this narration such as Muhammad or Ahmad.  In a summary of what the great scholar Imam Ibn ‘Ābidīn has mentioned in his book Radd al-Muhtār , the most virtuous of names are Muhammad and Ahmad because these were the names of the greatest servant to Allah.  Additionally, these were the names that Allah Himself willed for His most beloved creation. 


The importance of a good name can also be observed in the fact that, on more than one occasion, the Prophet (s.a.w.) changed the name of a few Companions after learning that they had a distasteful name. 


Based on these few points, the general principle regarding names is that we should be particular in selecting a good name for our children, rendering a good meaning and/or being used by the righteous servants of Allah in the past.  As long as they do not have a negative meaning or a meaning that is contrary to the teachings of Islam then they will be permissible, be it an Arabic name or a non Arabic name.


However, Imam Ibn Ābidīn (r.a.) has also mentioned that in regards to names that Allah has not mentioned, the Prophet (s.a.w.) has not mentioned, or is not commonly used by Muslims, there is some debate.  It will be preferable to avoid these types of names. 


As for the name Isabella, it has both Hebraic and Italian roots.  The Hebraic meaning is God’s vow while no meaning has been mentioned with the Italian roots.  However, it is not a name commonly found to be used by the Muslims.  Rather, historically you find that Isabella was a name found to be used by people with great enmity towards Islam, particularly Queen Isabella of in the 16th century C.E.  She was known as the “Catholic Queen” due to her strong faith.  She either forced the Muslims and Jews of Spain to be baptized or they were expelled in what is referred to as the Spanish Inquisition.  She and her husband were named as Catholic Monarchs by Pope Alexander VI for their works.  Based on these facts, it would be preferable to avoid using the name Isabella. 




And Allāh Ta῾āla Knows Best

Wassalāmu ῾alaykum 

Ml. Musa Sugapong,
Student Dārul Iftā

Checked and Approved by:

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Dārul Iftā

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