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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


A.M. Journal

Muhammad Speaks

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


QUESTION: In selecting one of the 99 attributes of Allah as a name, is it proper to retain the article "Al" to prefix the attribute? If so, does it apply also to all the attributes?

WDM: My advice is that if you don't know whether the name you wish to use is proper and already established as a Muslim name, then seek someone who has an understanding of the Arabic language, or a good book. If there's a good book on Muslim names, seek the book. But many times the book still leaves us in need of some help from a person who understands the Arabic language.

When you start selecting the attributes, as this person is asking, you may erroneously arrange them so that the meaning is not clear or the meaning does not apply to the gender - the female or the male. So it is best to seek someone who has understanding, unless you know these names are well established as being male names or female names and in the proper arrangement.

FOR EXAMPLE, most Muslims take the names of the companions of the Prophet (PBUH), the leading men and women in the history of Al-Islam. Muslims also take names from the attributes of God.

When we take names from the attributes of God, we should not use them as first names, but as last names. If you choose an attribute as a name, then be careful. Because, if you give your name as Al-Shaheed -- now Al-Shaheed is okay, but Al-Shaheed is Allah, that's God. But if you say Abdul-Shaheed, or Abdush-Shaheed, it is proper.

FIRST, CONSULT a good book by a worthwhile publisher, somebody you know you can trust. We prefer that you get the book from a Muslim book seller. Then go and seek help from someone who understands Arabic so that you don't make a mistake in selecting a name, as sometimes happens in the case of "Allah." If you say, "My name is Allah," there is a real problem. Your last name could be Abdullah.

Karim Allah is a good name, but when you tell someone your name, be sure that you say "Karimallah." It means the "generous one of Allah (God)," but if you say your name is "Allah," you confuse the Muslims. Your whole name is Karimallah, and you may want another name as most people have more than one name.