There are some people who say that it is not permissible to take the surname

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Date: Saturday, May 21, 2011




There are some people who say that it is not permissible to take the surname


There are some people who say that it is not permissible to take the surname of the husband after marriage. These are backed with various hadeeth eg “Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers, that is more just with Allaah…” [al-Ahzaab 33:5].

As it is in this world, so it will also be in the Hereafter, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

“On the Day of Resurrection, each betrayer will have a banner raised beside him, and it will be said, this is the betrayer of So and so the son of So and so.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5709, and Muslim, 3265).


Muhtaram / Muhtaramah

In the Name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāh wa-barakātuh.


It is permissible for a woman to change her surname to her husband’s surname. The verse of the Qur’an as well as the hadith provided to prove “impermissibility” are incorrectly understood.


It was a practice of the people of the past to regard an adopted child equal to a blood related child and the adoptive parents would link the adopted child’s lineage with their own lineage. Rasulullah (Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam) had adopted Zaid bin Haritha as a son before prophethood.  People called him Zaid, the son of Muhammad (Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam). Allah Ta’ala reprimanding this act revealed the following verses:


مَا جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِرَجُلٍ مِنْ قَلْبَيْنِ فِي جَوْفِهِ وَمَا جَعَلَ أَزْوَاجَكُمُ اللَّائِي تُظَاهِرُونَ مِنْهُنَّ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ أَدْعِيَاءَكُمْ أَبْنَاءَكُمْ ذَلِكُمْ قَوْلُكُمْ بِأَفْوَاهِكُمْ وَاللَّهُ يَقُولُ الْحَقَّ وَهُوَ يَهْدِي السَّبِيلَ ( ) ادْعُوهُمْ لِآَبَائِهِمْ هُوَ أَقْسَطُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ فَإِنْ لَمْ تَعْلَمُوا آَبَاءَهُمْ فَإِخْوَانُكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَمَوَالِيكُمْ وَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ فِيمَا أَخْطَأْتُمْ بِهِ وَلَكِنْ مَا تَعَمَّدَتْ قُلُوبُكُمْ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا ( )

Allah has not made for any man two hearts in his chest cavity, nor did he make your wives whom you subjected to Zihar, your mothers, nor did he make your adopted sons your (real) sons. That is (merely) a word uttered by your mouths. And Allah says the truth and He shows the (right) way. [33:5] Call them by (the name of) their (real) fathers; It is more equitable in the sight of Allah. And if you do not know their fathers, then they are your brothers in faith and your friends. There is no sin on you in the mistake you make, but in that which you do with intention of your heart; and Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.


In the above verses, Muslims are commanded not to call an adopted child by his adoptive parents.  Instead, he should be called by his real father’s name if the real father is known.  If not, then he is your brother in deen, but he is not your son.  (Ibn Kathir)

One can clearly see that the verse does not discuss the issue of changing surnames. It discusses the changing of a person’s lineage in which he is no longer attributed towards his real father but towards someone else.


As for the narration:

ابن عمر أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال إن الغادر ينصب له لواء يوم القيامة فيقال هذه غدرة فلان بن فلان – البخارى

Ibn ‘Umar narrates Rasulullah (Sallalahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam) said, “Verily a betrayer will have a banner raised for himself on the Day of Judgment and it will be said this is for the betrayal of so and so son of so and so. (Al-Bukhari)


The abovementioned narration also does not provide any proof for the impermissibility of changing one’s surname. It merely states that a person will be called by his or her father’s name on the Day of Judgment. It does not state that a person will be called by his surname on the Day of Qiyamah. The questioner had erred in his reasoning for deducing impermissibly of changing surnames from the verse as well as the narration, as the two are concerning a person’s lineage and not regarding surnames.


When a woman accepts the surname of her husband, no one has the slightest thought that she is attributing her lineage to someone other than her father. In today’s time, the purpose of surnames is not to represent the lineage of a person. Surnames are for associating oneself to a particular clan or family. When a woman gets married, she comes into her husband’s family and is considered part of the family. It does not imply that she is now linked by lineage with her husband’s family.


In fact, one will find in the books of hadith that many narrators were known through there mother’s name and not fathers. We will mention a few names as a way of example.


Zuhayr – a narrator of Sahih al-Bukhari. His name was Mansur ibn Safiyya. Safiyya was his mother and he was more known by this name. The father’s name was Abdur Rahman al-Hajabi. Safiyya was a Sahabiya for the lower level. (Fath al-Bari)


Thabit al-Bunani – a narrator of Sunan Abi Dawud. Bunana was the mother of Sa’d and the progeny of Sa’d were known Bunana. (‘Awn al-Ma’bud)


Bashir ibn al-Khasasiya – a narrator of Sunan Abi Dawud. His name father’s name was Ma’bad or Yazid, however he was more famously known as ibn Khasasiya, who was his mother. (‘Awn al-Ma’bud)


Sahl ibn al-Hanzaliya – a narrator of Sunan Abi Dawud. Hanzaliya was the name of his mother and some say his grandmother. His father’s name was Rabi’. (‘Awn al-Ma’bud)


Abu Bishr – a narrator of Sahih Bukhari. He name was Isma’il, but was more famously known as Ibn ‘Aliya, which was the name of his mother. (‘Umdat al-Qari)


Nevertheless, Shari’a does not make it compulsory upon a woman to change her surname nor does it deem it impermissible. She is at liberty to keep her maiden name or to adopt the husband’s surname.


And Allah knows best
Darul Iftaa

Madrasah Inaa’miyyah



· The Sharée ruling herein given is specifically based on the question posed and should be read in conjunction with the question.

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