Hadeeth About Not Naming Children Ya’laa, Barakah, Aflah, Yasaar, and Naafi’

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Merciful, the Ever Merciful…

I was asked about the following hadeeth:

Jaabir ibn ‘Abdullaah reported that the Prophet (S) decided to forbid names like Ya’laa (elevated), Barakah (blessing), Aflah (successful), Yasaar (wealth) and Naafi’ (beneficial) (Reported by Muslim)

[1] Firstly, as an obligation, we say ( صلى الله عليه وسلم “sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam” when mentioning our beloved Prophet, which may be expressed in English with the phrase: May Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace.  It is not permissible to change legislated phrases of thikr into abbreviations, like (S), (SAW), (PBUH), or the likes. Review the detailed verdicts of the scholars and further explanations here.

[2] Secondly, this prohibition has been collected by Imaam Muslim and others from two of the Companions, Samurah ibn Jundub and Jaabir ibn ‘Abdillaah, may Allaah be pleased with both of them. There are some slight differences in the wordings of their reports, and the wording mentioned in the question above seems to mix some of them together.

[A] Samurah’s wording is explicit, that he forbade four names: Aflah, Rabaah, Yasaar, and Naafi’. This is Imaam Muslim’s first narration (#2136).  In another narration of the same report (#2137), Najeeh is mentioned in place of Naafi’, along with a reason for the prohibition, that a person might ask for someone by these names that linguistically refer to concepts of goodness, and it would be said, “So-and-So (a name referring to goodness) is not here.” (an unintended form of bad speech)

[B] Jaabir’s wording in Saheeh Muslim (#2138) is slightly different.  He says that the Prophet (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) wanted to forbid these names, but later remained silent about them, and then he passed away (without forbidding them). He mentioned five names: Ya’laa, Barakah, Aflah, Yasaar, and Naafi’, and added, “And others like them.”  Some manuscripts of Saheeh Muslim mention Muqbil instead of Ya’laa (very similar in Arabic script). Jaabir also adds that ‘Umar (ibn al-Khattaab) wanted to forbid the names as well, but he left the idea. In al-Bukhaaree’s al-Adab al-Mufrad (#833) and Aboo Daawood’s Sunan (#4960), Jaabir adds the phrase (that means), “If I live (long enough), I shall forbid – in shaa’ Allaah – (the names),” adding the same reason mentioned in Samurah’s version.

[3] Regarding its authenticity, the hadeeth was collected in some of the famous compilations of saheeh (authentic) narrations, like Saheeh Muslim, Saheeh Ibn Hibbaan, and al-Haakim’s Mustadrak. The hadeeth is clearly authentic, and I do not know any of the scholars who ever doubted its authenticity. However, a Muslim TV personality recently published the following verdict, “This hadeeth doesn’t seem to be authentic as I couldn’t find it.”

In light of the above discussion, I would earnestly advise that we turn to the scholars of Islam, reliable students of knowledge, or at least capable researchers with our questions about hadeeth (and Islam in general). Quite honestly, TV personalities tend to have exaggerated reputations with little knowledge to offer.

[4] The scholars differed over the intended meaning of this hadeeth and the resulting ruling on the usage of the mentioned names.

[A] The early scholar and specialist at explaining what seem to be problematic narrations, Imaam Aboo Ja’far at-Tahaawee [d.321], may Allaah have Mercy on him, understood that the prohibition in Jaabir’s narration was not absolute, meaning that the resulting ruling on using these names could not be haraam (impermissible). Had it been haraam, he would have forbidden it, without delaying it for another time. Before he discussed the issue from other angles, his initial verdict was that the usage of these names remains openly permissible, since no prohibition was actually implemented (according to Jaabir’s reports alone). (Sharh Mushkil al-Aathaar, 4/441)

[B] However the wording of Samurah’s report seems to be more conclusive: “Do not name your boy… (the names)” This led at-Tahaawee to offer an alternative explanation, focusing on the rationale offered by the Messenger (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) in some of the reports, that it could be asked if Barakah (for example) is there, and the response would be, “There is no Barakah (literally: blessing) here.” This disliked wording, although unintended, could be taken as a bad omen by people of weak faith. At-Tahaawee concluded that tiyarah (giving consideration to bad omens) was then absolutely forbidden, which led the Muslims to pay no attention to these kinds of bad omens. He further strengthened this line of argument by mentioning historical uses of some of these names, like Rabaah, the Prophet’s servant, and al-‘Alaa’, his appointed governor in Bahrain. Thus, he concluded that prohibited names of this type need to be proven to have occurred after the prohibition of omens, otherwise they should be considered openly permissible. (Sharh Mushkil al-Aathaar, 4/441-447)

[C] In his explanation of Saheeh Muslim (14/118), An-Nawawee [d.676] concludes that it is disliked to use these names and similar ones, but not impermissible.  He brings harmony between Samurah’s and Jaabir’s narrations quite effectively, saying that Samurah’s affirmation of a prohibition was a suggestive prohibition, not an absolute one, which would mean that using the names is makrooh (disliked), while Jaabir’s mention of refraining from prohibiting them referred to an absolute prohibition that would have made them haraam. So he did forbid the names suggestively, but not absolutely, according to this opinion, and Allaah knows best.

[D] Some scholars, like Ibn al-Qayyim in I’laam al-Muwaq-qi’een, considered the disliked names to be restricted to only those identified specifically in the text of the hadeeth, allowing no qiyaas (analogies) to be made. This is based on what seems to be Samurah’s statement forbidding anyone from narrating other than the four names in the report he relayed. See: Zaad al-Ma’aad (2/303) of Ibn al-Qayyim. In light of the different narrations and the names found in them, it is more likely that Samurah was demanding that his students be precise in how they narrated his report.

Other scholars, like al-Baghawee [d.516], mentioned some additional names that were considered by some scholars to be intended by the generality of the hadeeth, like: ‘Abdul-___ (with any name of Allaah), Haamid, Muslim, Mubaarak, Maymoon, Salaamah, ‘Aafiyah, and Maymoonah. While this might now seem very restrictive, excessive, and even contradictory to narrations encouraging some of these names (like ‘Abdullaah and ‘Abdur-Rahmaan), al-Baghawee identified the problem to be connected to the manners of talking about the absent person, and not his actual name.  He offered the following solution: When people are requested and we need to reply that the person (‘Abdullaah, for example) is not present, then all we need to say is: “We are all ‘Abdullaahs (servants of Allaah, or the name being asked about, like Haamids, those who praise Allaah, or Mubaaraks, blessed by Allaah), but your friend (named ‘Abdullaah) has left!” (Sharh as-Sunnah, 12/339)

This is an excellent way to understand the issue – If the people are careful about how they would respond to requests for people with such names, by using responses like the ones suggested by al-Baghawee, then in such cases the names would not include the potential danger mentioned by the Prophet (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace). Otherwise, they should be considered disliked.  This approach to understanding the issue gives priority to the key piece of information found in the narrations – the reason for the prohibition mentioned by the Prophet (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) himself.

I hope that these points are found to be helpful, and Allaah knows best. May Allaah raise the rank of our Messenger and grant him peace.

Written by: Moosaa Richardson

35 thoughts on “Hadeeth About Not Naming Children Ya’laa, Barakah, Aflah, Yasaar, and Naafi’

  1. SubhaanAllaah, it’s really amazing the amount of work the Scholars & the people of knowledge have done for this Ummah – deeply analyzing and explaining to it the Speech of Allaah and the Speech of His Messenger – sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam. Alhamdulillaah for this great blessing.

    May Allaah have mercy upon those who have passed, and preserve those still alive.

    • Just to be absolutely clear, our brother Saadiq (may Allaah bless him) is amazed at the works of the scholars that have been referred to and quoted from here, as we all are, and rightly so. May Allaah have Mercy on the scholars and increase our benefit from their heritage.

    • Yes, if his father’s name is Rasool or Raheem, then this is clearly permissible. It would be better to say Mohammad ibn Rasool, or Mohammad ibn Raheem. If you mean that you would like to give him two names, then this is very confusing, since many people might assume that Mohammad Raheem is the son of Raheem, yet you intend that his name is murakkab (made up of more than one name), “Mohammad Raheem.” I would encourage you to use one name for your son, and his second name should be the name of his father, as Allaah says; what means: “Call them by their fathers’ names…” (Ahzaab:5) And Allaah knows best.

        • Obviously, if there is an intention to claim risaalah (messengership), then it is clearly not permissible. However, there are rasools in the Arabic language that are not claimed to be messengers of Allaah. So if he’s not expressly “Rasoolullaah” or having that meaning implied, then Allaah knows best.

  2. Salaam ‘alaykum
    Is it permissible to name a female child ‘Ubaydah, Mushinah or Haneefah?

    Jazaaka Allaah khairah

    • wa ‘alaykas-salaam. ‘Ubaydah, just like ‘Abeedah, is originally a female name, even though it seems to be used more widely as a male name. Ibn ‘Asaakir had a shaykhah (female teacher) named Umm al-Bahaa’ Muhsinah. (I think you meant Muhsinah but you put “sh” instead of “hs”.) These names have all been used in the early years of Islaam for females. The only possible problem – if you’ve understood the article above, specifically point #4D – would be if someone said “Is Muhsinah there?” and someone replied, “There is no Muhsinah (literally: someone who does good deeds) here.” (unintentional bad speech) Otherwise, these names are generally permissible, and Allaah knows best.

  3. Assalamu Alaikum,

    Jazakum’Allahu khayr for this beneficial article.
    I have a question regarding this article , what does the names Rabaah and al-’Alaa’, mean?

    baraka’Allahu feekum

    • wa ‘alaykis-salaamu wa rahmatullaah.

      Rabbaah: continuously profiting (usually with regards to trade)

      al-‘Alaa’: highness, loftiness (usually in status)

  4. Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullaah

    in relation to naming a person is it permisslbe to name your female child bismillah or a male child ghulam rasool. Jazakallah khairan

  5. assalamu alikum… my name is yasser. i was unware of such a hadeeth. My parents had decided to name me such, from the name of prophets companion Ammar bin yasir. Please advise what can i do now? i am 21 years of age.

    • Wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. The name mentioned in the hadeeth is يسار pronounced “Yasaar”

      Your name is probably ياسر pronounced “Yaasir”

  6. Assalaam Alaikum, i have noticed that you have written Mohammad ibn Raheem in reply to a question. I would like to clarify if we can use bin instead of ibn and name Mohammad bin Raheem. Jazakallah Khairaa

    • wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaah.
      In Arabic, the modern way of writing the “IBN” is like this “ابن” with an alif in the beginning if it is the beginning of a name like Ibn Taymiyyah (ابن تيمية). It is written like this “بن” without the alif when it is between two names like Ahmad bin Hanbal (أحمد بن حنبل). English writers have not agreed upon an established way of representing it in English. We’ve seen “ibn” and “bin” for both occasions mentioned, as well as just a simple “b.” I don’t think it is a matter of much importance, and Allaah knows best.

  7. would the name taysir fall into this category? taysir from my understanding means facilitation, Makes easier. also if said child/adult that has been named with these names do we change their/our names?

  8. assalamu alaikum , i given name mohammed Aflaf for my son.
    he is now 3 year old. can you help what can i do? there is any barkkath add mohammed with any name? barakallahu feeekum.

    • wa ‘alaykas-salaam wa rahmatullaah. The name “Mohammed” is the name of the most noble of Allaah’s creation, what an honorable name to take. I honestly don’t know what “Aflaf” means, sorry. Naming people with compound names like “Muhammad Ameen” should be avoided, as this would commonly be understood in many Muslim lands that he is “Muhammad, the son of Ameen”. And if his father’s name or nickname is not Ameen, then this is impermissible. May Allaah reward the Saudi government who prevent people from registering newborns’ names with compound names, and they require one clear name followed by the one clear name of the father.

      I’d invite you to think about something carefully. The culture of naming children “Muhammad This” and “Muhammad That” – has it actually taken from the value of the name “Muhammad”? I mean, when people in this culture hear that someone’s name is “Muhammad” – don’t they say “Muhammad what?” As if the name “Muhammad” is not sufficient as a name! Think about what this culture has led to, along with the point of not knowing if the second name is part of the person’s compound (first) name or his father’s name, and how it interferes with the clarity of a person’s lineage. The preservation of lineage is one of the five essential human rights that Islaam safeguards. [What are the five essential human rights?]

      And Allaah knows best.

  9. Assalaamu’alaykum. What about in the west a Muslim naming their son ‘Noah’ and spelling it in the common English way rather than ‘Nooh’. Is it allowed?

  10. Assalamu alaikum wa rahmathullahi wa barakaathuhu
    My duaghter was named ahsanah.What I learned now is female should be named husna.But I have seen other women with same name.So is it correct to name as such and write in Arabic with a tha marbootha as احسنة

    Baarakallahu Feek
    Abu Ahsanah

  11. assalaamu aleikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh.

    I also heard it is not allowed to use the names of Quranic Chapters (like Ta-Haa and Yaa-seen) as names. But I honestly do not know whether this is correct of not, because I saw it on FaceBook.

    This is what I read:

    “Ibn al-Qayyim: It is prohibited to give [children] the name of Quran or any chapter name such as Taha or Yasin. [Tuhfat al-Muwdud p.184]”

    Can you please tell me whether this is correct or not.

    Jazaakumallaahou khayran.

  12. Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullaahi Wa Barakatuh..
    Is it permissible to name a female child ‘Iman’ or ‘Imaan’?
    Jazak’Allahu Khayrun

  13. asalaam alaikhum.

    Jazzak’Allah khair for this.
    what is the ruling in naming a girl Rahma? meaning mercy. would it still apply with regards to what you said about like asking “where is rahma” and one answers rahma is not here right now?
    also are middle names allowed in Islam i.e first name Sarah Middle name Noor last name fathers last name?
    lastly do we have to add ibn or bint or does it suffice only to have first name and then put last name as fathers last name and not include fathers first name in the child’s name? i.e first name Noor last name Zalzouli (fathers last name)- so you see there is no bint or the fathers first name included but just their last name. is that ok?

    Jazzak’Allah khair

    • Sure, if his father’s name is Taha. Muhammad ibn Taha. Otherwise, I would advise that you choose a single name for him – Muhammad or Taha. And Allaah knows best.

      • Didn’t the scholars such as ibn al-Qayyim forbid naming children after suwar of the Quran such as Taha and Yasin?

        • The angle by which these names are forbidden or disliked is that we do not know the meanings of those words, not that they are names of Soorahs. Remember there is a Soorah named “Maryam” and its perfectly fine to name someone Maryam, so its not about being a name of a soorah. And Allaah knows best.

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