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Changing one’s name upon accepting Islam

Question: 122

Assalamu’alaikum. I am very in love with my girlfriend, a Chinese non-muslim.We’ve
been together for 5 years and planned to be wed soon. The problem is she is the eldest
in her family and by tradition has to look after her parents who are non-muslim.I have
tried to convert them to the islamic faith but they refused to submit to islam.As a muslim,
i respect their decision but will i be doing a sin if they continued to livewith my girlfriend
and I after we wed.I deeply love and respect them even though they rejected our religion
as they are my girlfriend’s parents. They however were understanding enough to not
keep idols and dieties in the house after we wed but they love to eat pork (just like any
other chinese) What am i supposed to do? My girlfriend doesn’t eat pork anymore and
she has submitted to islam willingly but she is concerned about changing her name as her
parents want her to keep her original name(ie Wong Wan Pei). Can this be allowed?

Praise be to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah and his family.

All praise is due to Allah.

First of all, we praise Allah the most glorified that He guided
this woman to Islam and that you are now allowed to marry her under Islamic
law (shari’ah). May Allah the Almighty help you to remain firm toward your faith.
Out of compassion and caring for your sake, please allow me to reproach a particular
aspect of your question, which is that you did not indicate any regret on your
part regarding the sinful and forbidden relationship of taking a girlfriend
and continuing with her in a friendship that angers and displeases Allah regardless
of the extent of that friendship.

Your question focused on a secondary issue regarding the ruling
on changing one’s name which is not as serious as what you have practiced for
the past five years. Allah the most glorified has forbidden such an indecent
relationship in the Qur’an (interpretation of the meaning, )

“not committing fornication, nor taking them as
lovers (i.e. girlfriends)” (Al-Maa’ida, 5:5)

So, it is obligatory upon you to repent to Allah and to regret
what has passed and to have the firm will not to return to the same action again,
and to do good deeds and perform acts of worship to expiate the evils of that
sin, and Allah is surely forgiving and merciful. (Please see also similar discussion
of this issue in question #61)

As for your statement: “I deeply love my girlfriend’s parents
even though they rejected our religion,” by Allah it is extremely astonishing
how a Muslim man that believes in Allah and the last day can love people who
are non-believers that don’t believe in Allah and the last day and don’t forbid
what Allah forbids and don’t practice the religion of truth and also refuse
the religion of Islam??! Is this not a clear violation of Allah’s statement
in the Qur’an in surat al-Mujadlilah 58:22 (interpretation of the meaning):

“You will not find any people who believe in Allah and
the Last Day, making friendship with and loving those who oppose Allah and His
Messenger (Muhammad-
Peace and Blessings of Allah be Upon Him), even if they are their fathers or
their sons or their kindred”

We are not saying to you curse them or pick up arms against them;
however, it is obligatory upon you to abhor them for their disbelief and their
denial of the Lord of the worlds and to hate the invalid and untruthful religion
that they are practicing. On the other hand, there is no objection for you to
treat them with kindnesswhile disliking them in your heartand to
be amicable towards them so that perhaps Allah will guide them through you.
You will find no conflict or contradiction between these two ideas if you consider
them carefully.

Furthermore, there is no objection to her parents living with
you after marriage if they do not perform forbidden acts in the home (e.g.,
eating pork, drinking alcohol, etc.)

As for the question raised at the end of your letter regarding
changing her name, the answer is: if the name of the person has a forbidden
meaning, like the name of an idol or one of their deities or a name that means
worshipping other than Allah, such as Abdul-Maseeh (worship per of Jesus the messiah) or Abdul-Hussain (worshipper of Hussain)
then it is mandatory to change it. However, if its meaning is permissable and
not objectionable, e.g. if it means one of the colors such as red or green or
a vocation like carpenter or baker, then it is OK and it is not obligatory to
change it. However, if changing the name in official documents would cause the
person much distress or harm, then it suffices to change it amongst his family
and acquaintances.

Finally, I ask Allah to give you and this woman a halaal (lawful
and good) and blissful life, full of imaan (faith) and taqwa (piety – God-fearing)
and enriched with righteous posterity. All success is from Allah.


Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

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