In the West and many other cultures, women changing their surname to their husband’s surname is a common occurrence after marriage. What many people do not know, is that changing your last name to your husbands is not permissible in Islam. This is because it is an imitation of the kuffar but it also detaches you from the family of your father and attaches you to someone else instead.
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever calls himself by other than his father’s name (or attributes himself to someone other than his father), will be cursed by Allah, the angels and all the people.” (Reported by Ibn Maajah, Book of punishments, 2707)
Imitating the kuffar by taking the last name of your husband and ignoring the words of the Prophet (pbuh) is haram and an insult to the woman’s family. It is also important to remember some people can unfortunately experience divorce and remarrying which can lead to changing a name back and forth
A man takes the name of his father and a woman takes the name of hers, there is no explanation for why she should take her husband’s fathers name. In a marriage of equality, both names are important to the individuals so should be preserved.
During the time of our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), both men and women were commonly identified using the first names of their fathers, which is why many famous people had “ibn” (son of) or “bint” (daughter of) in their names. This allowed for easy identification as it linked people of the same clans together, making it simple to discover someone’s lineage.
Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd said: “This is one of the beauties of Sharee’ah, because calling a person by his father’s name is more appropriate for knowing who is who and telling people apart.” (Tasmiyat al-Mawlood, 30, 310
Are there exceptions?
In the case where the laws of the land or dominant social customs dictate that a woman must change her surname to her husbands in order to prevent legal problems, it is permitted to occur.
There are some exceptions to this rule that can even be found among the companions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who took names that were not their biological fathers. An example is Ibn Umm Maktoon, a blind companion of the Prophet (pbuh) who took his mothers name, and the scholar Ibn Taimiyyah.
The actual process of changing your name is by no means an easy one. To change your surname to your husbands on your passport or driving licence you need to fill in the relevant forms requesting the change and show your marriage certificate. Banks and building societies may not always accept your marriage certificate as proof you have taken your husband’s surname and you may need other proof. Also don’t forget you would need to get in touch with all the companies you deal with, like mobile phone providers and utility companies.
But if you have changed your maiden name to your husbands, here is your chance and reason to reclaim your family’s name and preserve it! If you didn’t know then don’t feel under pressure to change it back. Allah is all merciful and you didn’t know at the time.
Have you always assumed you would take your husband’s name when you get married? Are you married and the thought of changing your name never crossed your mind at all? Let us know how you feel?
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