Arabic Names: Why?

Name of Questioner: John

Date: 29-12-2015 01:54:06 PM

Consultant: Ask About Islam Editorial Team


Why are so many Muslims called Abdul, Bin, Al or Hajji?

Thank you dear questioner for your interesting question.

It only seems like this because people do not understand Arabic – even many Muslims, who weren’t born Arabs. Let us take the simplest first.

Bin simply means ‘son of ’, and Al simply means ‘the’. Many football fans may have noticed this during the World Cup, when commentators kept referring to the many players called Bin this-or-that, or Al this-or-that. The prefix Bin is always followed by the name of the person’s father.

The prefix Al is always followed by a name that either tells you where the person’s family came from, or what their family occupation is. So, for example, Al-Jabali is the exact equivalent of the surname Hillman; or Al-Afghani means he comes from Afghanistan.

Hajji applied to a man simply means that he has made the pilgrimage to Makkah, the hajj. If it is a woman, she is entitled to call herself Hajjah. Abdul is really a conglomerate of two words – `abd and al, which mean ‘servant/slave’ and ‘the’. Put together, Abdul means ‘servant of the...’.

The name is meaningless unless followed by another name. For a Muslim, this other name has to be one of the many names/attributes of Allah, since a Muslim will not acknowledge servitude to anyone or anything other than Allah. Therefore, it is good for a Muslim to be called Abdul Karim or Abdul Rauf, (‘servant of the Beloved One’ or ‘servant of the Merciful One’). To be called Abdul Muhammad is forbidden, since even though a Muslim may respect Muhammad more than any other human being that ever lived, he cannot be worshipped.


Source: Taken from a book entitled “What Every Christian Should Know about Islam”