Hi Charish, I want to first thank you for being transparent with us about a topic that is very important to adoptees. IAA: I really hope the judge grants your request and understands the power in an adoptees birth name.
IAA: Reading that warms my heart because I am willing to believe that your natural mom did care about you. Charish: I started writing my name as Francis when I found out my birth name, and for a few years refused to answer to anything else. Question: I have a question regarding Muslims changing their entire name after coming into the faith of Islam. Islam does not consider it an obligation for any new convert to Islam whose mother tongue is not Arabic to change it to an Arabic name or other language.
Assallamu Alaikum, I became Muslim in June 2011, and just wanted to know that even if it is not mandated to change your name, can you do this as a symbol of such a total life change? As a convert of 10+ years myself, I can tell you that part of the conversion process is the eventually recognition that you are the same person that you were before and that Islam is a natural part of life. When I converted to Islam, I did not embrace Arabism, neither did I reject my parents, close friends nor the teachers and other adults in the community who helped raise me and make me who I am. The Lamppost Education Initiative (LEI) offers expert analysis of current events which impact Muslims in the West as well as offerings in the classical Islamic disciplines in written, published, and audio-visual formats. My husband and I have been married for almost three years and it wasn’t until a month before our baby girl was born that I decided to re-marry my husband in order to change my last name. While we have to change our credit cards, our husbands have to take on the new role of managing the household. Even now, as my husband is not working, he made sure that he put away enough money to keep a roof over our heads. In this day and age, women are caught up in being independent but there is no way you can be in a relationship and be independent. Of course, it is important to have individual goals and aspirations but sharing them is a necessity. Joining our lives and long-term goals wasn’t hard because we are on the same page—we should have the same name right? Venturing into a marriage takes a lot out of you but it allows space for your significant other to pour into your spirit. Some of the most common questions I was asked as a newlywed were, "Does it feel any different to be married?" "Have you got used to calling him 'husband' yet?" and, of course, "So are you taking his last name?" When I answered in the negative (for all three questions, actually), the latter query was followed up with further questions.
I decided at the ripe old age of 15, almost 10 years before I met the man who would become my husband, that I would not change my name for marriage. As I grew older, learning more about gender politics and the inequalities that women still face in society cemented that teenage decision to keep my name.
To put it bluntly -- as I sometimes do when people really grill me about my decision -- it's not 1950 and I'm not cattle that needs to be branded with my owner's name.
If you are debating whether to change your surname for marriage, don't listen to the people who question your decision -- don't even listen to this article -- but take time to ponder for yourself your thoughts on name and identity, and what's important to you.


I have been contacted by adoptive mothers seeking advice on the effects of changing their adopted child's name. It is imperative that adoptive parents understand what it means to keep a piece of a child's birth mother with them after being adopted.
I believe once a child has been named by their natural family that it should never be changed for the exception of the last name, and that is it! Even those that are second, third generation Muslims when their parents became Muslim they changed their last names.
Rather, it is only highly recommended for one to do so when the meaning of one’s name is something offensive or overly presumptuous in sound, like one indicating that one is pure or the like.
Rather, their last names were connected to tribal affiliations or titles attaching them to certain tribal or regional sectors, like Qurashi, Khazraji, Makki, etc. I feel as though I want to share with everyone what for me is the most wonderful thing that happened to me.
But I do think that there is something to converts adopting new identities as a way of breaking with our past.
African-Americans, we have our own issues with names, but until we can be recognized as legitimate Muslims with names like Keith, Crystal and Michael, Islam is always going to be viewed as a foreign religion. So with all due respect, I generally advise new converts not to change their names unless they fall within the above clarifications Ustadh Abdullah gave in the original answer. Our commitment is to establishing an authoritative voice for American Muslim scholarship reflective of the historical tradition and contextualizes Islam in light of the challenges and cultural particularities of Western societies as was the case in all societies where Islam spread historically.
Once we separate from our parents and cling to our spouses, we should instead depend on them for the nurturing that we received from our parents.
Sharing does not have to mean wanting the same things but it does mean supporting each other.
The expectation that women should change their last name for marriage, swapping their own identity for their husband's, is -- inarguably -- sexist. I do think it's unequal that children automatically take their father's name, but other approaches are not yet as widely accepted as women keeping their surnames -- though I think this is will change with time.
Whether or not I have the same last name as my child won't stop me loving them or feeling attached to them.
However, that's the name I had for the first 29 years of my life before my wedding, and that's who I see myself as. A few decades ago it was common to assume any married woman you met was a housewife; that's not a good reason for women to stay out of the workplace. I love my husband dearly, and hope we are together until we die in each other's arms at the exact same moment at age 100, but it would be naive not to realize that something like a third of western marriages end in divorce. If you, however, are not as fond of your name or do not see it as part of your identity -- perhaps because it's from a parent you don't have a good relationship with, the name is something you got teased for, or you just feel it's not particularly you -- then I think marriage is a great opportunity to take a new name.
If you, too, do think "it's just nice", ask yourself what you find nice about it before committing to a decision.
I understood that to change your first name is okay, but to change your last name is not permissible.


During the Prophet Muhammad’s (saws) time, he changed the names of a number of women whose names were too pious sounding, like the name Barra (ultra-pious).
This, I think stems from a number of things, but something that I suspect is unique to the contemporary Western mindset. I’ve realized that a small thing like a name can cause distance between a husband and wife.
All of my decisions, my greatest moments and my saddest moments have been with him alongside me. And I say "inarguably" because no one could claim there is an expectation of the same name-change in men. Also, with this logic, would I no longer feel like I'm part of my parents' family if I take a different surname from theirs?
But I believe this should be the case for men as well, and that neither gender should feel obligated to switch names. I have two children whom now carry my last name now, and I am bothered that I may have made a mistake in giving them my last name. I believe that we assume that there is something anit-Islamic about our past, when that simply is not the case. Are there no boys in your family to carry on the name?" And then, in a conspiratorial whisper, "Do you not like your husband's last name? Several times I've introduced myself to someone on email and received a message back signed off with "P.S. In these days of blended families, the idea that everyone in a family would have the same last name is a touch old-fashioned. Reflective Groom' on meeting me for the first time -- just as people familiar with me greet him as. But the things that make weddings nice are that they bring together family and friends, celebrate your love, and are an excuse for an awesome party. My adoptive mom changed my middle name and gave me my natural mom's name when my adoption was finalized at 8 years old.
The Companions, as Ustadh Abullah said, only changed their names when they implied something pretentious or idolatrous. And if it is so nice to have the same last name as your spouse, perhaps it shouldn't only be women stepping up to make the change. This same trend can be detected in the European and other traditions (although I plan to exhaust more research on the matter) such that last names that are familiar today originate in some sort of occupation, tribal affiliation, or regional ascription.
So, in the end, you have not done anything inappropriate by giving your children your last name unless they are not biologically yours.



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