Before you ask, yes I did change my last name when I married (because it’s a hella-cool name and half the reason I married that guy who is now my husband).
What I’m talking about is changing my name after reverting to Islam.
Some (many? A few? I don’t even know) western Muslim reverts/converts change their names to a more Muslim sounding name after their life change. Like Ayşe instead of Annie, Elif instead of Erin, etc. But, as my friends know, I didn’t. I stuck with the name my mother gave me.
If this sounds familiar, you can skip this post. Ive posted over 200 things on this blog here, and I think I’ve covered this topic before (loosely), but it came up again in my life so I want to address it again.
When I introduced myself to someone new recently, they were surprised I was Muslim (after seeing my name only and meeting me for the first time). They asked if I go by another name informally, and I said no. They were surprised, since converts change their names (apparently a lot?).
Did I mention before that the imam that performed our Nikah ceremony (religious marriage) required I pick a “Muslim name” for the purpose of the religious stuff? Hubby got pissed, but it was too late to find another imam so… Yeah, I was Mariam for five minutes. My husbands name isn’t Muslim, it’s Turkish… So… What about him? Meh, anyway…
Nowhere in the Quran, hadiths, or sunnah (to my knowledge) does it say to change your name. I personally think that changing your name after converting does a huge disservice to Islam. It’s as if you are forcing yourself to fit in a little box that Islam never wanted for you. “Middle eastern” clothes, names, etc are a culture. Islam is a religion. Just because you converted doesn’t mean you have to wear a black Abaya and change your name to Khadija (although she was an amazing woman and should inspire us all!). I mean, if you want to you can… But it seems very sad. Islam is supposed to elevate you to your best level, not change who you are.
So while I did change my lifestyle (I. E. No more drinking, no hanging out with guys outside of work requirements, now wearing hijab), I didn’t change myself. My clothing style is the same, if not less revealing. My name is the same. My hobbies are the same. I am still me. But I’m more than me now, I’m me 2.0.
And me 2.0 doesn’t require a name change.