Salaam. I am hoping you may help me. I am getting married very soon and thinking about if I should change my surname to my husband's surname. My name is Jane Doe (Doe being my father's name). When I get married, my title will change from Miss to Mrs. If I decide not to change my surname I will be referred to as Mrs. Doe. My mother's title is Mrs. Doe and therefore I do not feel it correct taking my mother's identity when I get married into my husband's family. Additionally, I do not feel comfortable removing my father's name, I feel this is denouncing my family roots. On the other hand living in British society, for legal and administration purposes I can understand and recognise why it is beneficial for me to take on my husband's name. What is your advice on Muslim women taking on double-barrelled names, keeping their maiden name and adding their husbands' surname? For example- my husband to be is called John Baker; Is name Jane Doe Baker is permitted?
As-Salamu `alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
We commend your keenness on getting your self well-acquainted with Islam and its teachings, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.
Islam emphasizes that Muslims should have good names and give good names to their children. It is reported in a hadith that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "You will be called on the Day of Resurrection by your names and the names of your fathers, so have good names." (Reported by Abu Dawud)
One can only change one's own name, but one cannot change the family name or name of one's parents, unless they are alive and accept the change. So the new Muslims should change their first names, if they contain wrong or bad meanings. As far as their last names are concerned they should not be changed, because it is also forbidden in Islam to take the name of someone other than one's own biological father. Allah says in the Qur'an, "Proclaim their real parentage. That will be more equitable in the sight of Allah. And if you do not know their fathers, then they are your brothers in the faith…" (Al-Ahzab: 5)
As regards your question, the adoption by a woman of her husband's family name is a purely cultural practice that has nothing to do with Islam. It should be known that, "the adoption by a woman of her husband's family name when she marries him is a token of her being subordinate to him. Historically speaking, a woman was in a position of total subordination to her husband. In Islam, she suffers nothing of the sort. She retains her own family name because she is allowed to act independently of him. If divorce takes place, she returns to her own family. In Western countries, even after divorce, she continues to be known by her husband's family name.
However, as far as Islam is concerned there is nothing wrong if the wife uses or be referred to with the surname of her husband.
In this context, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states:
"There is no specific tradition of last name among Muslims. Sometimes the people take the last name of the family (Qurashi, Hashimi), sometimes they take their last name from their profession (Qassab, Najjar), sometimes they take their last name from the city in which they are born (Makki, Madani, Shami, Masri) and many other ways. The proper way in Islam is that the person should be known by his/her name and the name of his/her biological father. It is not required for a woman to take the name of her husband, but it is also not forbidden if she is recognized as the wife of so-and-so."
Dr. Siddiqi further adds:
"It is permissible for a woman to change her last name after marriage. A woman can introduce herself or others can introduce her as the wife of so and so. In the ahadith, we see that the Prophet's wives were sometimes referred to with the names of their fathers and sometimes as "wife of the Prophet". These things are more based on cultural practices and whatever is convenient can be done. What is forbidden in Islam is that a person refers to him/herself as the son or daughter of someone other than the real biological father. Allah says in the Qur'an, "Proclaim their parentage; that is more equitable in the sight of Allah." (al-Ahzab: 5) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Whosoever will claim the name of anyone other than his father will not even get the smell of Paradise." (Reported by Ibn Majah)"
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Wassalam and Allah Almighty knows best.