Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher
In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.
I pray you are in good health and spirits. Thank you for your question.
Many new Muslims choose to adopt a new name when they embrace their Islamic identity.
Changing one's name is praiseworthy but not obligatory.
Unless your name has polytheistic connotations or a bad meaning, then it is perfectly acceptable for you to keep your name.
It is preferable to keep your family name, since Islam places great emphasis on preserving lineage and identifying children by their fathers' names.
Allah Most High says in the Qur'an,
"Proclaim their real parentage. That will be more equitable in the sight of Allah. And if ye know not their fathers, then (they are) your brethren in the faith, and your clients. And there is no sin for you in the mistakes that ye make unintentionally, but what your hearts purpose (that will be a sin for you). Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful."
There is some merit in changing your first name or adopting a Muslim name, particularly if it's a name of a prophet or has a good meaning, such as Slave of Allah (Abdullah) for example.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, made specific recommendations for names, such as Abdullah and Abdurrahman.
A boy was born for a man among us, and the man named him Al-Qasim. We said to him, "We will not call you Abu-l-Qasim, nor will we respect you for that." The Prophet was informed about that, and he said, "Name your son 'Abdur-Rahman."
[Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 205]
Whatever decision you make, it's important that it comes from your own conviction.
Please see this related article on SunniPath:
And Allah knows best.
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