Which of these Muslim first names should I choose for myself: Adam, Ibrahim, Omar, Youssef, Zakaria?

Hello,

  • I’m an adult male living in Western Europe.
  • Since I’m a convert to (Sunni) Islam, I would like to adopt a Muslim first name.
  • I would have no middle name.

My surname (also called family name or last name) is Lambton.

After a lot of research, I have narrowed down my list to the following five first names.

  • Adam
  • Signification: man, red, human, humanity, earth.

Illustrious person: the prophet Adam mentioned 25 times in the Quran.

  • Ibrahim
  • Signification: father of many nations.

Illustrious person: the prophet Abraham mentioned 69 times in the Quran.

  • Omar
  • Signification: life, flourishing, eloquent, populous.

Illustrious people: Omar ibn al-Khattab (second Rightly Guided Caliph and one of the ten promised paradise), Omar ibn Abd al-Aziz (an Umayyad Caliph, often regarded as the fifth Rightly Guided Caliph).

  • Youssef
  • Signification: Yahweh will increase/add.

Illustrious person: the prophet Joseph mentioned 27 times in the Quran.

  • Zakaria
  • Signification: Yahweh remembers.

Illustrious people: the prophet Zechariah mentioned 7 times in the Quran and in the New Testament, another prophet mentioned in the Old Testament and who wrote the Book of Zechariah, various other minor characters in the Old Testament.

I would like that:

  • 1) my first name fit well with my surname (Lambton), considering that there wouldn’t be any middle name between the two.
  • 2) my first name look formal, adult, mature, serious and professional.

3) my first name be easy and intuitive to pronounce for the non-Muslims.

Please sort the five names in decreasing order of preference (from the one you like most to the one you like least).

Also, if you can, tell me the advantages and drawbacks that each name has.

Thanks in advance.

Replies

1
January 15, 2017 8:30 PM

#1 Omar: I like Omar best because I feel it meets all of your criteria while looking very stylish.

#2 Adam: I really like Adam as a name, and I think it is the most professional-looking and easy to pronounce name on your list. If it matters to you, Adam is a very prominent character in the Old Testament, known as the first man created by God. Is this the same person, or different?

#3: Youssef: It isn't as easy to pronounce as some of the others, but I like the way it sounds with your last name.

2
January 15, 2017 9:04 PM

All five of the names on your list are mature, handsome choices, and I find it hard to pick a personal favorite. That being said, I can definitely narrow that list down to three.

Zakaria is pronounced zuh-KAR-ee-uh, correct? But people unfamiliar with the name will likely confuse it with Zachariah (zack-uh-RYE-uh), or mistakenly assume it to be a feminine form of Zachary and pronounce it ZACK-uh-ree-uh.

Adam is a very common name in the English-speaking world, and you would never have anyone struggle to pronounce your name. But it's a poor choice if you're looking to change your name as a sign of your Islamic faith, because it's not a name anyone would associate with Islam. If someone told me he changed his name to Adam as part of a religious conversion, I would assume he had converted to Judaism or Christianity.

So with those two out of the way, the choice would come down to Omar, Ibrahim, and Youssef. All three are intuitive to pronounce and very professional. Omar Lambton and Youssef Lambton both flow nicely, but it really boils down to personal preference at this point. Youssef is my personal favorite, although Yusuf is the more familiar spelling in the West (thanks in no small part to fellow convert Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens).

3
January 16, 2017 11:00 AM

I agree: if you're changing your name due to conversion to Islam, then Adam and Zakaria are not good choices, because neither one looks or sounds in any way Islamic. They're simply part of the overlap between the Koran, Torah, and Bible.

4
January 16, 2017 3:16 PM

I agree with this narrowing down. I think how I'd pronounce Zakaria depends heavily on surname queues and with a surname like this one I'd definitely assume it was a respelling of Zachariah first. If you don't mind correcting pronunciation and clarifying spelling it's not a dealbreaker, though - it's a very stylish name and sound... so stylish that I think it would not obviously read as a Muslim choice to many non-Muslims, which may be a plus (less name-based discrimination). Here are the names that I think it would get grouped with, by frequency of use in the US births last year:

Zachariah,M,727
Zechariah,M,387
Zakaria,M,128
Zacharia,M,28
Zakariah,M,28
Zacariah,M,9
Zacharyah,M,5
Zecharia,M,5
Zecharya,M,5
Zekariah,M,5

I think Omar is my favorite as a very straightforward fitting-in option -- if you're looking for a straightforward, familiar name that blends in smoothly while still signalling a potential association with Islam (although in the US I wouldn't be surprised to find an Omar who is African American without being Muslim, either). There were 1831 little boys named Omar born in the US last year, for comparison... here it's just a much more commonly used name. I would not expect to have to spell or clarify this name very much at all.

Youssef is more strongly associated with Islam for me but poses more spelling issues. Filtering for Y_s_f names, I get the following, and I'm sure there are some other possibilities I'm inadvertently excluding:

Yusuf,M,465
Yosef,M,330
Yousef,M,296
Youssef,M,185
Yousif,M,110
Yousuf,M,81
Yusef,M,75
Yusif,M,17
Yussef,M,13
Yousaf,M,12
Yousof,M,9
Yussuf,M,8
Yosif,M,6
Yossef,M,6
Yosuf,M,6

Where you live the spelling distribution may be different, but I'd definitely consider using the name when ordering coffee or taking reservations at a restaurant and see what kinds of default spellings you get. You may not be bothered by the spelling correction or the diversity of assumed spellings, either, at which point I think it's an excellent choice as well that pretty strongly reads as a Muslim choice to non-Muslims.

Ibrahim is I think much less familiar and I'd be prepared to have it occasionally misheard (in low-sound-quality conditions) as Abraham, which is much more common in the area where I live:

Abraham,M,2423
Ibrahim,M,697
Ibraheem,M,76
Ibrahima,M,37
Ebrahim,M,23
Abrahim,M,18
Ibraham,M,6

However, the names really do sound distinct if you're speaking clearly and in a place without lots of conflicting noise, so once you've got that distinguished you actually have a dominant spelling, and I think it would also be pretty universally assumed to be a Muslim name.

Hope that helps; you've got many excellent choices here!

5
January 16, 2017 7:30 AM

I vote Omar.  All of these are nice names, and they sound mature and respectable.  Adam and Ibrahim are a little difficult to say with your last name, though--something about the repeating Ms makes me trip on the N at the end of Lambton.  Some people will mispronounce Zakaria and Youssef.  I agree with Quiara that the Yusuf spelling would be easier for non-Muslims.

Omar Lambton sounds great.

6
January 16, 2017 1:11 PM

I like Youssef the best, followed by Omar. Mostly because I like the sound of both with your surname and because they are both recognizable as muslim names and easy to pronounce. 

I agree with what others have said about Adam. If you are changing your name because you are converting to Islam, changing your name to Adam seems like a wasted opportunity. 

I like Zakaria but agree with other posters that it could be mispronounced and doesn't necessarily say "muslim" to me.

I don't really have an opinion on Ibrahim

7
By fyza
January 17, 2017 2:43 PM

My son's name is Yusuf and I love it. I also like Omar.

8
January 18, 2017 2:38 PM

As a person who belongs to a faith tradition where converts frequently choose a new name, I'll give you the exact same advice I give them.

1. If your current given name is acceptable in your new faith and not offensive to it, even if not particularly popular, don't change it. Really, don't. It's only going to set you up to crash and burn as you add another superficial layer to the conversion and by doing so neglect the interior life conversion requires. If your given name is not acceptable in your new faith (Mohammed on a convert from Islam to Christianity, Christopher on a convert from Christianity to Islam), it is understandable why you would want to change it.

2. You are presumably *running to* your new faith because you believe it is true, and not using it as a waypoint in *running from* your previous beliefs. If this is the case, your name choice should reflect that fact by showing respect to your history, not a rejection of it.

3. As such, your family and/or friends might be saddened by your conversion, but they should not see your name choice as salt in a would. An immature faith uses a name and other externals like dress, diet, prayer schedules, and calendars to form a sense of self and to use that as a barrier between his future and his previous life. A mature faith is grounded in the internal life of conversion to personal holiness and so can use these externals but does not wear them as a superficial identity as he is instead grounded in his identity in God.

4. What names would meet this criteria is highly personal. A young convert to Islam raised by Baptist ministers who are quite active in his life would have a very different list from a guy who has been living a Muslim life for decades after being raised by non-believing free spirits who are long deceased. We can comment on the externals, but we can't comment on this interior life that should be the priority. Far more weight should be given to the criticisms of those closest to you as it will show where you have room for humility and growth, which is hard but should be the focus during a conversion.

5. I would imagine based on your description that names like Adam, Joseph, and Zechariah would rise to the top of the list, Abraham and Omar would sit in the middle, and names like Ibrihim and Youssef would sift to the bottom. That's just a guess, though. If sought in charity, God will guide you in the choice.

9
January 25, 2017 4:00 PM

I would Vote for Youssef and Adam,

They both are religious but not pointing directly to specific religion or branches.

10
January 24, 2017 4:47 AM

In response to your three criteria:

1) I don't see a problem with any of the names with your surname, except that Adam Lambton reminds me a lot of Adam Lambert, which may or may not bother you.

2) All the names are formal, adult, mature, serious and professional.

3) The only one that I think will cause significant spelling and pronunciation issues for non-Muslims is Zakaria. Youssef is intuitive to pronounce, and I am familiar with this spelling, but as others have mentioned there are several popular spellings of this name so it might not be the best choice if you mind correcting and clarifying the spelling regularly. 

My order of preference:

1. Ibrahim - elegant, mature, subtly familiar but underused and with clear Muslim connections.

2. Youssef - very close second.

3. Omar - safe, solid, good choice.

4. Adam

5. Zakaria 

11
January 24, 2017 6:38 PM

1) Omar - I agree with others that it's a good solid name that sounds mature and professional. It's got the general association with Islam, if that's important to you as a convert, and most people would spell and pronounce it correctly.

2) Youssef - This is very similar to Omar, but loses points for spelling confusion. Yousef? Yosef? Yussuf?

3) Adam - I really like this name, and of course it would be very easy to spell and pronounce. The problem is the religious aspect--I'd definitely assume Christian or Jewish, and it's such a common name outside of religion as well. If that doesn't bother you, Adam definitely fits all of your criteria.

4) Zakaria - What is your intended pronunciation? I read it as za-KAR-ee-a, and until I saw your description I didn't even think of the connection to Zechariah. I also read it as a woman's name. This may be partially due to me knowing a (female) Dakari and a Zanobia, but overall I think you're quite likely to run into confusion. I didn't rank it last because I personally like it a lot, and Zachariah too. :)

5) Ibrahim - There's nothing necessarily wrong with this, I just have negative associations with it. It could be confused with Abraham, but other than that I think it fits your criteria pretty well.