Arabic name

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Arabic language names have historically been based on a long naming system. Many people from the Arabic-speaking and also non-Arab Muslim countries have not had

family names but rather a chain of names. This system remains in use throughout the Arabic and Muslim

Name structure


The ism (اسم) is the given name, first name, or personal name; e.g. "

nouns, and are often aspirational of character. For example, Muhammad means 'Praiseworthy' and Ali
means 'Exalted' or 'High'.

The syntactic context will generally differentiate the name from the noun/adjective. However Arabic newspapers will occasionally place names in brackets, or quotation marks, to avoid confusion.

Indeed, such is the popularity of the name Muhammad throughout parts of

, due to its almost ubiquitous use as a first name, a person will often be referred to by their second name:

  • Md. Dinar Ibn Raihan
  • Mohd. Umair Tanvir
  • Md. Osman


The nasab (

Arabic: نسب, lit.'lineage') is a patronymic or matronymic
, or a series thereof. It indicates the person's heritage by the word ibn (ابن "son of", colloquially bin) or ibnat ("daughter of", also بنت bint, abbreviated bte.).

Ibn Khaldun (ابن خلدون) means "son of Khaldun". Khaldun is the father's personal name or, in this particular case, the name of a remote male ancestor.

Sumayya". Sumayya is the personal name of ʿAmmār's mother, the same person can also be identified by his father's personal name "ʿAmmār ibn Yasir". In later Islamic periods the nasab was an important tool in determining a child's father by means of describing paternity in a social (i.e. to whom was the mother legally married during the conception of the child), not a biological sense, because the father's biological identity can be grounds for speculation. In early Islamic contexts this function is not yet well established. This stems from a legal principle introduced by Islam regarding the legal status of children (they can only arise from marriage) and changes to waiting periods relating to divorce to establish an undisputed legal father for any child. This function only developing with Islam means that one can find many Companions of the Prophet bearing a maternal nasab, as the naming conventions reflected in their names still stem from pre-Islamic attitudes and beliefs.[1]

Several nasab names can follow in a chain to trace a person's ancestry backwards in time, as was important in the tribal society of medieval Arabs, both for purposes of identification and for socio-political interactions. Today, however, ibn or bint is no longer used (unless it is the official naming style in a country, region, etc.: Adnen bin Abdallah). The plural is 'Abnā for males and Banāt for females. However, Banu or Bani is tribal and encompasses both sexes.


The laqab (لقب), pl. alqāb (ألقاب), can be translated to English as agnomen; cognomen; nickname; title, honorific; last name, surname, family name.[2] The laqab is typically descriptive of the person.

An example is the name of the

al-. Harun is the Arabic version of the name Aaron
and al-Rasheed means "the Rightly-Guided".

Another common form of laqab is that of compounds ending with al-Dīn (lit.'of the faith' or 'of the religion'), al-Dawla ('of the State'), al-Mulk ('of the Kingdom'), or al-Islām ('of Islam').


In ancient Arab societies, use of a laqab was common, but today is restricted to the surname, or family name, of birth.


The nisbah (نسبة) surname could be an everyday name, but is mostly the name of the ancestral tribe, clan, family, profession, town, city, country, or any other term used to show relevance. It follows a family through several generations. A demonym example is الحلبي al-Halabi, meaning that the person from a family of Aleppo or descendant of people from Aleppo. For a profession example, الخياط al-khayyat meaning "the tailor".

The laqab and nisbah are similar in use, but they could be used simultaneously. For example: Sayf Al-Dīn Al-Halabi.



nom de guerre or a nickname, without literally referring to a son or a daughter.[5] For example, Sabri Khalil al-Banna was known as Abu Nidal
, "father of struggle".

Use of a kunya implies a familiar but respectful setting.

A kunya is expressed by the use of

genitive construction, i.e. "father of" or "mother of" as an honorific in place of or alongside given names in the Arab world

A kunya may also be a nickname expressing the attachment of an individual to a certain thing, as in Abu Bakr, "father of the camel foal", given because of this person's kindness towards camels.

Common naming practices

Arab Muslim

A common name-form among Arab Muslims is the prefix ʿAbd ("Worshipper", fem. Amah) combined with the word for God (Allah), Abdullah (عبد الله "Worshipper of God"), or with one of the epithets of God.

As a mark of deference, ʿAbd is usually not conjoined with the prophet's names.[6] Nonetheless, such names are accepted in some areas. Its use is not exclusive to Muslims and throughout all Arab countries, the name Abdel-Massih, "Servant of Christ", is a common Christian last name.

Converts to Islam may often continue using the native non-Arabic non-Islamic names that are without any polytheistic connotation, or association.

Arab Christian

To an extent Arab Christians have names indistinguishable from Muslims, except some explicitly Islamic names, e.g. Muhammad. Some common Christian names are:

ʿAbd al-Yasuʿ (masc. ) / Amat al-Yasuʿ (fem.) ("Servant of Jesus")
ʿAbd al-Masiḥ (masc.) / Amat al-Masiḥ (fem.) ("Servant of the Messiah")
Derivations of Maseeḥ ("Messiah"): Masūḥun ("Most Anointed"), Amsāḥ ("More Anointed"), Mamsūḥ "Anointed" and Musayḥ "Infant Christ". The root, M-S-Ḥ, means "to anoint" (as in masah) and is cognate to the Hebrew Mashiah.

Dynastic or family name

Some people, especially in the Arabian Peninsula, when descendant of a famous ancestor, start their last name with Āl "family, clan" (آل), like the

definite article
(ال). If a reliably-sourced version of the Arabic spelling includes آل (as a separate graphic word), then this is not a case of the definite article, so Al (capitalised and followed by a space, not a hyphen) should be used. Ahl, which has a similar meaning, is sometimes used and should be used if the Arabic spelling is أهل.

Dynasty membership alone does not necessarily imply that the dynastic آل is used – e.g. Bashar al-Assad.

Arabic Meaning Transliteration Example
ال 'the' al- Maytham al-Tammar
آل 'family'/'clan of' Al Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
أهل 'tribe'/'people of' Ahl Ahl al-Bayt


محمد بن سلمان بن أمین الفارسي
Muḥammad ibn Salmān ibn Amīn al-Fārisī

Ism – Muḥammad (proper name, lit. "praised")
Nasab – Salmān (father's name, lit. "secure")
Nasab – Amīn (grandfather's name, "trustworthy")
Nisbah – al-Fārisī ("the Persian").

"Muḥammad, son of Salmān, son of Amīn, the Persian"

This person would simply be referred to as "Muḥammad" or by his kunya, which relates him to his first-born son, e.g. Abū Karīm "father of Karīm". To signify respect or to specify which Muḥammad one is speaking about, the name could be lengthened to the extent necessary or desired.

Common mistakes

Non-Arabic speakers often make these mistakes:

Arab family naming convention

Conventionally, in Arab culture, as in many parts of the world, a person's ancestry and family name are very important. An example is explained below.

Assume a man is called Saleh ibn Tariq ibn Khalid al-Fulan.

  • Saleh is his personal name, and the one that his family and friends would call him by.
  • ibn and bin translates as "son of", so Tariq is Saleh's father's name.
  • ibn Khalid means that Tariq is the son of Khalid, making Khalid the grandfather of Saleh.
  • al-Fulan would be Saleh's family name.

Hence, Saleh ibn Tariq ibn Khalid al-Fulan translates as "Saleh, son of Tariq, son of Khalid; who is of the family of al-Fulan."

The Arabic for "daughter of" is bint. A woman with the name Fatimah bint Tariq ibn Khalid al-Rashid translates as "Fatimah, daughter of Tariq, son of Khalid; who is of the family al-Rashid."

In this case, ibn and bint are included in the official naming. Most Arab countries today, however, do not use 'ibn' and 'bint' in their naming system. If Saleh were an Egyptian, he would be called Saleh Tariq Khalid al-Fulan and Fatimah would be Fatimah Tariq Khalid al-Rashid.

If Saleh marries a wife (who would keep her own

, family, and surnames), their children will take Saleh's family name. Therefore, their son Mohammed would be called Mohammed ibn Saleh ibn Tariq al-Fulan.

However, not all Arab countries use the name in its full length, but conventionally use two- and three-word names, and sometimes four-word names in official or legal matters. Thus the first name is the personal name, the middle name is the father's name and the last name is the father's family name.

Biblical names and their Arabic equivalent

The Arabic names listed below are used in the Arab world with correspondent Hebrew, English, Syriac and Greek equivalents in many cases. Most are derived from Syriac transliterations of the Hebrew Bible.

Arabic name Hebrew name English name Syriac name Greek name
ʿĀbir /ʾĪbir عابر / إيبر Éver
ʻĒḇer עֵבֶר
Eber ܥܵܒ݂ܵܪ ʿĀḇār
Alyasaʿ اليسع
Elišaʿ אֱלִישָׁע
Elisha ܐܹܠܝܼܫܲܥ Ēlīšaʿ Ἐλισσαῖος
ʿĀmūs عاموس Amos
ʿĀmōs עָמוֹס
Amos ܥܵܡܘܿܣ ʿĀmōs Ἀμώς
Andrāwus أندراوس Andrew ܐܲܢܕܪܹܐܘܿܣ Andrēōs Ἀνδρέας
ʾĀsif آصف Asaph
ʾĀsaf אָסָף
Asaph ܐܵܣܵܦ ʾĀsāp
ʾAyyūb أيّوب Iyov / Iov
Iyyov / Iyyôḇ איוב
ܐܝܼܘܿܒ݂ Īyōḇ Ἰώβ
Āzar / Taraḥ آزر / تارح
Téraḥ / Tharakh תֶּרַח / תָּרַח Terah ܬܲܪܚ Tar(ə)ḥ Θάρα
Azarīyā أزريا Azaryah עֲזַרְיָהוּ
ܥܲܙܲܪܝܵܐ Azar(ə)yā
Barthulmāwus بَرثُولَماوُس
bar-Tôlmay בר-תולמי
ܒܲܪ ܬܘܼܠܡܲܝ Bar-Tūlmay Βαρθολομαῖος
Bārak بارك
Bārûḵ בָּרוּךְ
Baruch ܒܵܪܘܿܟ݂ Bārōḵ Βαρούχ
Binyāmīn بنيامين Binyamin
Binyāmîn בִּנְיָמִין
Benjamin ܒܸܢܝܵܡܹܝܢ Benyāmēn Βενιαμίν
Būlus بولس Paul ܦܲܘܠܘܿܣ Pawlōs Παῦλος
Butrus بطرس Peter ܦܸܛܪܘܿܣ Peṭrōs Πέτρος
Dabūrāh دبوراه Dvora
Dəḇôrā דְּבוֹרָה
Deborah ܕܒ݂ܘܿܪܵܐ D(ə)ḇōrā Δεββώρα
Dānyāl دانيال Daniel
Dāniyyêl דָּנִיֵּאל
Daniel ܕܵܢܝܼܐܹܝܠ Dānīyyēl Δανιήλ
Dāwud / Dāwūd / Dāʾūd داود / داوُود / داؤود David
Davīd  דָּוִד
David ܕܵܘܝܼܕ݂ Dāwīḏ Δαυίδ, Δαβίδ
Fīlīb/Fīlībus فيليب / فيليبوس
ܦܝܼܠܝܼܦܘܿܣ Pīlīpōs Φίλιππος
Fāris فارص Péreẓ
Pāreẓ פֶּרֶץ / פָּרֶץ
Perez ܦܲܪܨ Parṣ
ʾIfrāym إفرايم Efraim
Efráyim אֶפְרַיִם/אֶפְרָיִם
Ephraim ܐܲܦܪܹܝܡ Ap̄rēm Ἐφραίμ
Ḥūbāb حُوبَابَ Chobab
Ḥovav חֹבָב
Ḥabaqūq حبقوق Ḥavaqquq חֲבַקּוּק Habakkuk Ἀββακούμ
Ḥajjai حجاي Ḥaggay חַגַּי Haggai Ἁγγαῖος
Ānnāh آنّاه
Ḥannāh חַנָּה
Anna (Bible)
Hārūn هارون Aharon אהרן Aaron Ἀαρών
Ḥawwāʾ حواء Chava / Hava
Ḥavvah חַוָּה
Eve ܚܘܐ Εὔα
Hūshaʾ هوشع Hoshea
Hôšēăʻ הושע
Hosea Ὡσηέ
Ḥassan حسن Choshen
ẖošen חֹשֶׁן
Ḥazqiyāl حزقيال
Y'ḥez'qel יְחֶזְקֵאל
Ezekiel Ἰεζεκιήλ
ʾIbrāhīm إبراهيم Avraham אַבְרָהָם Abraham Ἀβραάμ
Idrees / Akhnookh
Idrīs / Akhnūkh أخنوخ / إدريس
H̱anokh חֲנוֹךְ Enoch / Idris Ἑνώχ
ʾIlyās / ʾIlyāsīn / Īliyā إلياس / إل ياسين / إيليا
Eliahu / Eliyahu
Eliyahu אֱלִיָּהוּ
Elijah 'Eliya Ἠλίας
ʾImrān عمرام / عمران Amrām עַמְרָם Amram Ἀμράμ
ʾIrmiyā إرميا Yirməyāhū יִרְמְיָהוּ Jeremiah Ἱερεμίας

ʿĪsā / Yasūʿ عيسى / يسوع
Yešuaʿ   יֵשׁוּעַ / יֵשׁוּ
Jesus Eeshoʿ Ἰησοῦς
DIN جوشيا
Yôšiyyāhû יֹאשִׁיָּהוּ Josiah Ιωσιας
ʾIsḥāq إسحاق
Yitzhak / Yitzchak
Yitsḥaq יִצְחָק
Isaac Ἰσαάκ
ʾIshʻiyāʾ إشعيا Yeshayahu
Yəšạʻyā́hû יְשַׁעְיָהוּ
Isaiah Ἠσαΐας
ʾIsmāʿīl إسماعيل
Yišmaʿel / Yišmāʿêl יִשְׁמָעֵאל
Ishmael Ἰσμαήλ
ʾIsrāʾīl إِسرائيل
Israel / Yisrael
Yisraʾel / Yiśrāʾēl ישראל
Israel Ἰσραήλ
Ǧibrīl / Gibril / Ǧibra'īl جِبْريل / جَبْرائيل Gavriel
Gavriʾel גַבְרִיאֵל
Gabriel Γαβριήλ
Ǧād / Jād جاد Gad גָּד Gad Γάδ
Ǧālūt / Jālūt / Julyāt جالوت / جليات Golyāṯ גָּלְיָת Goliath Γολιάθ
Ǧašam / Ǧūšām جشم / جوشام
Geshem גֶשֶׁם
Geshem (Bible)
Ǧūrğ / Ǧirğis / Ǧurğ / Ǧurayğ جيرجس George (given name) Γεώργιος
Kilāb / Kalb كلاب/ كلب Kalev כָּלֵב Caleb
Lāwī لاوي Lēvî לֵּוִי Levi Λευΐ
Layā'ليا Leah לֵאָה Leah Λεία
Madyān مدين Midian מִדְיָן Midian Μαδιάμ
Majdalā مجدلية Migdal Magdalene Magdala Μαγδαληνή
Māliki-Ṣādiq ملكي صادق malki-ṣédeq מַלְכִּי־צֶדֶֿק Melchizedek Μελχισεδέκ
Malākhī ملاخي Mal'akhi מַלְאָכִי Malachi Μαλαχίας
Maryam / Miriam
Maryam   مريم
Miriam / Miryam
Miryam מרים
ܡܪܝܡ Μαρία
Mattūshalakh مَتُّوشَلَخَ Mətušélaḥ
Mətušálaḥ מְתֿוּשָלַח
Methuselah Μαθουσάλας
Mattā Amittai אֲמִתַּי Amittai
Mattā / Matatiyā متى / متتيا Matitiahu / Matityahu
Matityahu מַתִּתְיָהוּ
Mattai Ματθαῖος
  Mikāʼīl / Mikaal / Mikhāʼīl ميكائيل / ميكال / ميخائيل
Michael / Mikhael
Miḵaʾel מִיכָאֵל
Michael Μιχαήλ
Mūsā موسى Moshe
Mošé מֹשֶׁה
Moses Μωυσῆς
Nahamiyyā نحميا Neḥemyah נְחֶמְיָה Nehemiah Νεεμίας
Nūḥ نُوح Noach / Noah
Nóaḥ נוֹחַ
Noah Νῶε
Qarūn / Qūraḥ قارون / قورح Kórakh
Qōraḥ קֹרַח
Rāḥīl راحيل Rakhél
Raḥel רָחֵל
Rachel Ραχήλ
Ṣafnīyā صفنيا Tzfanya  / Ṣəp̄anyā
Tsfanya צְפַנְיָה
Zephaniah Σωφονίας
Ṣaffūrah صفورة
Tzipora  / Tsippora
Ṣippôrā צִפוֹרָה
Zipporah Σεπφώρα
Sām سام
Shem שֵם Shem Σήμ
Sāmirī سامري Zimri זִמְרִי Zimri Zamri
Ṣamu’īl / Ṣamawāl صموئيل / صموال
Shmu'el / Šəmûʼēl
Shmu'el שְׁמוּאֶל
Samuel Σαμουήλ
Sārah سارة Sara / Sarah
Sarā שָׂרָה
Sarah / Sara Σάρα
Shamshūn شمشون Shimshon / Šimšôn
Shimshon שִׁמְשׁוֹן
Samson Σαμψών
Sulaymān /  سليمان
Šlomo שְׁלֹמֹה
Solomon Σολομών
Ṭālūt / Šāwul طالوت / شاول
Šāʼûl שָׁאוּל
Saul Σαούλ
Ṭūmās/Tūmā طوماس / توما
Thomas (name) Te'oma Θωμᾶς

ʻUbaydallāh / ʻUbaydiyyā عبيد الله / عبيدييا
ʻOvádyah / ʻOvádyah עבדיה
Obadiah Ὁβαδίας, Ἀβδιού
ʻAmri عمري Omri
ʻOmri עמרי
ʻUzāir عُزَيْرٌ Ezra
Ezrá עזרא
Yaʿqūb يَعْقُوب Yaakov
Yaʿaqov יַעֲקֹב
Yaḥyā / Yūḥannā** يحيى / يوحنا Yochanan / Yohanan
Yôḥānnān יוחנן
Yahwah يهوه
Yahweh יְהֹוָה
Jehovah ܝܗܘܗ, ܝܗ, ܞ‎ YH, YHWH
Yashshā يَسَّى
Yishay יִשַׁי Jesse Ἰεσσαί
Yathrun (?)
Yathrun / Shu'ayb / شعيب
Yiṯrô יִתְרוֹ
Yūʾīl يوئيل
Yoel יואל) Joel Ἰωήλ
Younos / Younes
 / Yūnus/Yūnān يونس
Yona / Yonah
Yônā יוֹנָה
Jonah Yuna Ἰωνάς
Youssof / Youssef
Yūsuf /  يوسف
Yosef יוֹסֵף
ܝܲܘܣܸܦ Yawsep̄ Ἰωσήφ
Yūshaʿ / Yashūʿ يُوشَعُ / يَشُوعُ
Yôshúa יְהוֹשֻׁעַ
Joshua Ἰησοῦς
Zakariyyā / Zakarīyā زَكَرِيَّا
Zecharia /Zekharia
Zeḵaryah זְכַרְיָה
Zachary or Zechariah Ζαχαρίας
  • The popular romanization of the Arabized and Hebrew names are written first, then the standardized romanization are written in oblique. Arabized names may have variants.
  • If a literal Arabic translation of a name exists, it will be placed after the final standardized romanization.
  • If an Arabic correlation is ambiguous, (?) will be placed following the name in question.
    * Yasu' is the Arab Christian name, while
    . There is debate as to which is the better rendition of the Aramaic Ishuʿ, because both names are of late origin.
    ** Yuhanna is the Arab Christian name of John, while Yahya is the Muslim version of the name, as used in the Qur'an. They have completely different triconsonantal roots: Ḥ-N-N ("grace") vs Ḥ-Y-Y ("Life"). Specifically, Youhanna may be the Biblical John the Baptist or the apostle. Yahya refers specifically to John the Baptist.
  • El, the Hebrew word for strength/might or deity, is usually represented as īl in Arabic, although it carries no meaning in classical and modern Arabic. The only exception is its usage in the
    Iraqi Arabic


According to the

Chicago Manual of Style, Arabic names are indexed by their surnames. Names may be alphabetized under Abu, Abd and ibn, while names are not alphabetized under al- and el- and are instead alphabetized under the following element.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Mohammadi, Adeel (2016). "The Ambiguity of Maternal Filiation (nasab) in Early and Medieval Islam". The Graduate Journal of Harvard Divinity School (11): 52–68.
  2. ^
  3. .
  4. ^ Shahpurshah Hormasji Hodivala, Historical Studies in Mug̲h̲al Numismatics, Numismatic Society of India, 1976 (Reprint of the 1923 ed.)
  5. Zambezia
    XXVI (i), pp. 93–110, 1999
  6. . One must avoid names whose ambiguity suggests something unlawful. It is for this reason that the scholars forbid having names like 'Abd al-Nabi (Slave of the Prophet).
  7. Chicago Manual of Style
    . Retrieved on December 23, 2014. p. 25 (PDF document p. 27/56).

External links