In Europe or the USA we have a first name (given name), maybe a middle name, and a surname (family name). How is it in the Arab world?
The system is entirely different compared to Western names.
In Europe or the USA we have a first name (given name), maybe a middle name, and a surname (family name). How is it in the Arab world? Let us examine, for example, this name:
Al-Farūq ’Abū Karīm Muhammad ’Ibn Khālid al-Baghdādīy
الْفارُوقُ أَبُو كَرِيمٍ مُحَمَّدُ اِبْنُ خالِدٍ الْبَغْدَادِيُّ
In general, Arabic names consist of five parts which don’t necessarily have to follow a particular order. However, you will often find the following order:
(Ibn.. Ibn… Ibn…)
|The لَقَب is defined most simply as an epithet, usually a religious, honorific, or descriptive title. The لَقَب can precede the اِسْم and sometimes comes to replace it. There are mainly three possibilities:|
|Honorific name (street name) – to identify a person by his first-born child.|
|Name under which people call somebody on the street; mostly named after the first child: father of; mother of.|
The كُنْية is a honorific name. It is not part of a person’s formal name and is usually not printed in documents. The كُنْية is very important in Arabic culture – even a person who has no child might have a كُنْية which makes him (or her) symbolically the parent of a special quality, such as father of good deeds.
|This could be a traditional Arab name that is found in the Qur’an, a (nice) attribute, a foreign name, or a compound with the most famous prefix: عَبْد – which means servant of and is followed by one of the 99 names (attributes) of Allah.|
|Genealogy (family origin):|
son of… son of… son of…
|The نَسَب is the patronymic. It is more or less a list of ancestors, each introduced with son of (اِبْن) or daughter of (بِنْت).|
It often relates back to two or three generations. That’s why Arabic names can be very long: أُبَىُّ بْنُ عَبَّاسِ بْنِ سَهْلِ بْنِ سَعْدٍ
In this example, ‘Abbās is the father and Sahl the grandfather and Sa‘d the grand-grandfather.
|Indication of origin. The Nisba is usually preceded by the definite article الْ.|
|The نِسْبة is similar to what people in the West may call the surname. It is rarely used in Egypt and in Lebanon where the لَقَب incorporates its meaning. A person may have several نِسْبة|
It is usually an adjective (نِسْبة) derived from
Watch out: In the Arab world women don’t take their husband’s surname when they get married. They keep their names they were given at birth.
Children, however, do take their father’s name – which is expressed in the نَسَب: daughter of (name of the father).