Period Arabic Names and Naming Practices (2nd edition)
Articles > Names

PERIOD ARABIC NAMES AND NAMING PRACTICES

by Da'ud ibn Auda (David B. Appleton) © 2003

Please note: This article is a significant update to an earlier article by Da'ud ibn Auda with the same name. That article has been superceeded by this article and has been removed from the main Laurel site.

INTRODUCTION

The following is my "new, improved" Arabic naming practices and names lists, an update of an article with the same name which was published some years ago. The research in this list has been a little more rigorous: some names which appeared on the earlier list do not appear on this one; on the plus side, this list consists of more names in all categories of name elements than the earlier list. Careful track was kept of what specific name elements came from where in what specific sources, so that answering inquiries and double-checking the work to verify spellings, etc. will be much easier. Also expanded are the descriptions of the various name elements, and illustrations of common names forms with actual period examples of each. As a result, this updated article should be even more useful than the earlier version, in addition to being more accurate.

The following names lists consist of period (pre-1600 A.D.) Arabic names and name elements, having been selected from names of people who lived during that time. These lists are not designed to be exhaustive, only to be large enough to give a reasonably wide selection of provably period Arabic names. I have tried to avoid, as much as possible, names with other than Arabic origins, such as Persian, Mongol and Turkish (e.g., 'Umar al-Khayyami [Arabic] rather than Omar Khayyam [Persian]).

The list of feminine given names is shorter than the list of men’s given names. As is the case with many medieval societies, not many women were specifically named in period sources and references. However, many of the masculine given names can be feminized by the addition of "a" or "ah" to the end (for example, the masculine Khalid can be found feminized as Khalida(h)). Masculine cognomens ending in "i" may generally be feminized by changing the finial "i" to "iyya" or "iyyah". (Cognomens, as such term is used herein, consist primarily of laqabs and nisbas; for more on which, see below.) There are a few names which were "unisex": ‘Ulayyah bint al-Mahdi was a half-sister of Harun al-Rashid, and Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Isma’il ibn Ibrahim ibn ‘Ulayyah was an Egyptian authority for hadith. As can be seen from this example, it is not always possible to tell the gender of a name from the presence of an "a" or "ah" ending. In the names lists below, where I have found both a masculine and a feminine form of a given name, such names are marked with an asterisk [*], and the respective forms are found in the masculine and feminine lists of isms (given names).

Titular names such as ‘The Sword of the Faith (Sayf al-Din) and ‘The Sword of the State’ (Sayf al-Dawla) were bestowed by the caliph on military and political leaders and were very highly valued. Thus, names consisting of "X + al-Din" (the most famous examples being "Salah al-Din" [Rectitude of the Faith], "Nur al-Din" [Light of the Faith] and "`Ala al-Din" (Aladdin)), "X + al-Dawla" (Nasir al-Dawla [Defender of the State]), "X + al-Mulk" (Nizam al-Mulk [Order of the Kingdom]) and "X + al-Islam (Sayf al-Islam [Sword of Islam]) were generally an indication of status or rank. As a consequence, such titular names are not registrable in the SCA, and they have been left out of the lists of period names.

Where I have found the translation of a byname, it follows the name entry in [brackets]. I have not done the same with isms (given names) because in Arabic, as with most other languages, once a word enters the name "pool", it quickly loses its putative "meaning" and becomes simply a name in and of itself. For example, a person would have been named Muhammad because that was the name of the founding prophet of Islam, not because it once meant "praiseworthy".

Where a given name is the Arabic form of a name also well-known in English, I have included the English form in brackets (e.g., Isma’il [Ishmael]; Yusuf [Joseph]). The English form should not be used in Arabic names; it is there only as a reference point for the reader.

Commonly used alternative transliterations for some names follow the primary entry in (parentheses).

A FEW NOTES ABOUT TRANSLITERATION

T.E. Lawrence (yes, that Lawrence), who lived among the Arabs for a number of years before and during World War I and who spoke not only standard Arabic but a number of local dialects, probably summed it up more concisely than anyone else in an answer to some queries from his publisher about inconsistent spellings of Arabic names in his manuscript Revolt in the Desert:

"Arabic names won't go into English, exactly, for their consonants are not the same as ours, and their words, like ours, vary from district to district. There are some `scientific systems' of transliteration, helpful to people who know enough Arabic not to need helping, but a wash-out for the world. I spell my names anyhow, to show what rot the systems are."

So the problem is, and remains, "how do you spell `Khaddafi' (Gadhafi, Qadafi, etc., etc., etc.)?" I have seen a number of systems of transliteration, and find most of them to be adequate, if not necessarily consistent with each other. What it comes down to is that there are usually a number of ways to spell an Arabic name in Roman letters. In researching my own name, I have found Da'ud, Daud, Dawud, Daoud, Dawood, Daood and Da'oud.

However, there are some limits to the variability of transliterations of Arabic names. One cannot simply replace one vowel with another: e.g., Duad is not an acceptable transliteration of Daud. The pronunciation is too different to be a reasonable transliteration. If I may borrow a phrase from Harpy Herald: Transliteration from Arabic may be "complex, but complexity is not anarchy." Any transliteration used must be pronounced reasonably close to the Arabic original.

To help ease the problem of variant transliterations, the names in the lists are spelled according to the most commonly-used transliterations found. If there is more than one commonly used way to spell a name, the alternate(s) follow the primary spelling in parentheses. The listings are not comprehensive as far as alternative spellings; they are simply the ones most frequently seen or generally used. For simplification, most of the diacritical marks (dots or lines beneath certain letters, etc.) have been left out, as they are unavailable on typewriters and many computers and are primarily useful, as Mr. Lawrence noted, only to those who know enough Arabic not to need them.

As a note of historical interest, Arabic name have often become corrupted when used by Europeans. Examples, many from period, include: Averroes, from ibn Rushd; Avicenna from ibn Sina; Achmed from Ahmad; Amurath from al-Murad; Saladin from Salah al-Din; Nureddin from Nur al-Din; Almanzor from al-Mansur; Rhases from Razi; and Avenzoar from ibn Zuhr.

The only two "rules" that seem to be generally consistent (at least in books published since a little before WWII) in transliterating Arabic names are:

(i) "Abu al-[cognomen, whether laqab or nisba]" is frequently transliterated as "Abu'l-[cognomen]", in keeping with the actual "slur" in pronunciation; and

(ii) the Arabic "the" ("al"), when used in a cognomen is always hyphenated to the word following it, as in "Harun al-Rashid".

ARABIC NAMING PRACTICES

"Giving a name, indeed, is a poetic art; all poetry if we go to that with it, is but a giving of names." (Carlyle) The Arabic-speaking peoples are concerned not only with giving an appropriate name to someone, but with how the name sounds: do the syllables flow well? Do the various parts of the name roll mellifluously from the tongue? Is the name poetry? Do the various elements fit well each with the other? All of this is considered in the giving of names in "the language of the angels", Arabic.

Arabic name elements may be divided into five main categories, with the last category having several sub-types. Persons are named by:

  1. An ism (pronounced IZM, as the final syllable in the word dogmatism), a personal, proper name given shortly after birth, usually on the third day, but sometimes on day of birth and sometimes on the seventh day after birth. Examples of such names are Muhammad [Mohammed], Musa [Moses], Ibrahim [Abraham], Ahmad. Adults are seldom called by these names; socially it is considered a slight to address or refer to an elder or parent by their ism.

  2. A kunya (pronounced COON-yah), an honorific name or surname, as the father or mother of someone; e.g., abu Da'ud [the father of David], umm Salim [the mother of Salim]. It is meant as a prefix of respect or reverence. Married persons (especially married ladies) are, as a general rule, simply called by their kunya (abu or umm + the name of their first son). When using a person's full name, the kunya precedes the personal name: Abu Yusuf Hasan [the father of Joseph, Hasan], Umm Ja’far Aminah [the mother of Ja’far, Aminah].

  3. By a nasab (pronounced NAH-sahb), a pedigree, as the son or daughter of someone; e.g., ibn 'Umar [the son of Omar], bint `Abbas [the daughter of Abbas]). The nasab follows the ism in usage: Hasan ibn Faraj [Hasan the son of Faraj], Sumayya bint Khubbat [Sumayya the daughter of Khubbat]. Many historical personages are more familiar to us by their nasab than by their ism: e.g., the historian ibn Khaldun, the traveler ibn Battuta, and the philosopher ibn Sina [Avicenna].

    Nasabs may be extended for several generations, as may be noted in some of the examples set forth below. However, the vast majority of nasabs found in period sources are only one or two generations long. It is uncommon to find a nasab which extends three generations back (considering the father of the individual as the first generation), and there are a very few examples which extend to four generations, such as Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ja’far ibn al-Haddad.

    When the parent in a nasab is referred to by his kunya, the word abu becomes abi, e.g., Muhammad’s son-in-law was ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, ‘Ali the son of Abu Talib, or ‘Ali, the son of the father of Talib.

  4. A laqab (pronounced LAH-kahb), a combination of words into a byname or epithet, usually religious, relating to nature, a descriptive, or of some admirable quality the person had (or would like to have); e.g., al-Rashid [the Rightly-guided], al-Fadl [the Prominent]. Laqabs follow the ism: Harun al-Rashid [Aaron the Rightly-guided].

    One particular form of laqab is formed on the pattern of `Abd [servant of] plus one of the 99 names of Allah; e.g., ‘Abd Allah (`Abdullah) [the servant of God], `Abd al-Aziz [servant of the Almighty], `Abd al-Rahman [servant of the Merciful]. These laqabs are used as, and in the place of, an ism: ‘Abd al-Mun’im ibn Idris ibn Sinan. The feminine form of this type of laqab is Amat al-X, for example, Amat Allah (Amatullah), (female) servant of Allah.

    Sometimes what appear to be regularly-formed laqabs are found used instead of, or in the place of, an ism, e.g., al-Dahhak ibn ‘Ajlan, Abu Talib al-Mufaddal ibn Salamah. (Such laqabs might also be found used in the "normal" fashion for a laqab: Muhammad ibn Ya’la al-Dabbi al-Mufaddal.) I have not yet found a general rule by which laqabs are used in the place of an ism; the only reliable guide for proper usage right now is to look at actual period examples. Where I have found laqabs used as isms as well as "normal" laqabs, they are marked in the names lists with a plus sign [+] and are found listed in both the list of laqabs/nisbas used as isms and the list of laqabs/nisbas.

    Some names are found both as an ism and in a laqab form: Rashid and al-Rashid, Hasan and al-Hasan, Anbar and al-Anbar, Fadl and al-Fadl. (These and other examples are marked in the names lists with a carat [^].) This is not, however, a general rule; not all isms may be modified in this way and used as laqabs. Again, the only reliable guide for proper usage is to look at period examples.

  5. A nisba (pronounced NISS-bah), a byname. Nisbas follow the ism or, if the name contains a nasab (of however many generations), generally follow the nasab. The three primary types of nisba are:

    1. Occupational, derived from an person's trade or profession; e.g., Muhammad al-Hallaj [Muhammad, the dresser of cotton].
    2. Of descent, derived from the name of a person’s tribe of birth or family lineage: Mughirah al-Ju'fi [Mughirah of the tribe of Ju'fi]; Yusuf al-Ayyubi [Joseph the Ayyubid, Joseph of the family line of Ayyub].
    3. Geographical, derived from the place of residence or birth: Yaqub al-Dimashqi [Jacob of Damascus]. As is the case with nasabs, some persons in history are known to us primarily by their nisba: Muhammad ibn Isma’il al-Bukhari, the author of an early collection of hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) is better known from his place of birth, Bukhara, simply as al-Bukhari.

Sometimes what appear to be regularly-formed nisbas are found used instead of or in the place of an ism, e.g., ‘Ali ibn al-Massisi, Abu Ishaq al-Tabari. (Such nisbas might also sometimes be found used in the "normal" fashion for a nisba: Ya’qub ibn Muhammad al-Massisi.) I have not yet found a general rule by which nisbas are used in the place of an ism; the only reliable guide for proper usage right now is to look at actual period examples. Where I have found nisbas used as isms as well as "normal" nisbas, they are marked in the names lists with a plus sign [+] and are found listed in both the list of laqabs/nisbas used as isms and the list of laqabs/nisbas.

Where more than one nisba is used, as a general rule the geographic nisba comes last, preceded by either the occupational nisba or the tribal nisba. I know of no examples of names which use all three types of nisba.

A brief note on the pronunciation of some laqabs and nisbas: the "l" in al- is elided and the first letter of the following word is substituted for the following consonants: d (ad-Duri), n (an-Najmi), r (ar-Razi), s (as-Salar), sh (ash-Shanfara), t (at-Tayyib), th (ath-Thaqafi), and z (az-Zubair). These are, however, generally still written as al-; only the pronunciation is changed.

 

All of these various name elements can be, and often were, as you may have already noticed in some of the examples above, combined in the name of a single individual, sometimes to an almost excessive degree (though usually only on more formal occasions).

How did Arabic naming conventions work in actual practice? The following are historical examples of common forms, from very simple to the more complex. As a general rule, women’s names tended to use the less complex forms; however, this may be as much the result of a limited sample as it is of period practice. I have included women’s names found in the examples below.

Yusuf ibn Ayyub

ism son of ism [one generation nasab]

Yazid ibn Abi Hakim

ism son of the father of Hakim [one generation nasab where the father’s name is a kunya]

Ayyub al-Sakhtiyani [masculine]

Mariyah al-Qibtiyah [feminine]

ism + nisba

Abu Muhammad Wahb

kunya [the father of Muhammad] + ism

Umm Ja'far Zubaydah

kunya [the mother of Ja’far] + ism

Ahmad ibn Sa’id al-Bahili

ism son of ism [one generation nasab] + nisba

Ahmad ibn Abi Fanan al-Katib

ism son of the "father of Fanan" [one generation nasab, where name of father is a kunya] + occupational nisba

Umamah bint Hamdun ibn Isma’il

ism + two generation nasab

Layla bint Zuhayr ibn Yazid al-Nahdiyah

ism + two generation nasab + [feminine form of] nisba

Abu Bishr al-Yaman ibn Abi al-Yaman al-Bandaniji

kunya + laqab/ism + one generation nasab [where name of father is a kunya] + nisba

Abu al-Tayyib ‘Abd al-Rahim ibn Ahmad al-Harrani

kunya [where name of son is laqab/ism] + laqab/ism + one generation nasab + geographic nisba

Abu Muqatil al-Nadr ibn al-Munqadi al-Daylami

kunya + laqab/ism + one generation nasab [where name of father is laqab] + nisba

Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Sahl ibn Rabal al-Tabari

kunya + ism + two generation nasab + nisba

Abu al-‘Abbas Muhammad ibn Ya’qub ibn Yusuf al-Asamm al-Naysaburi

kunya + ism + two generation nasab + nisba [occupational? Or laqab?] + geographic nisba

Abu al-Qasim Mansur ibn al-Zabriqan ibn Salamah al-Namari

kunya [where name of son is laqab/ism] + ism + two generation nasab [where name of father is laqab/ism] + nisba

Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Ishaq ibn Ibrahim ibn Bashir al-Harbi

kunya + ism + three generation nasab + nisba

‘Ubayd ibn Mu’awiyah ibn Zayd ibn Thabit ibn al-Dahhak

ism + four generation nasab

Throughout period many names followed the pattern of kunya + ism + laqab (Abu Abdullah Muhammad al-Mustansir), or kunya + ism + nasab (Abu Muhammad Hamid ibn al-‘Abbas), even by peoples who adopted Islam (and Arabic naming practices) like the Seljuk Turks (Abu’l-Qasim Mahmud ibn Zengi ibn Aqsunqur).

 

Not surprisingly, the teachings of Islam's founder, Muhammad, have a large influence on Arabic naming practices. The following are some examples of his discussions on names from the hadith (sayings or teachings of the Prophet Muhammad):

On the day of Judgment you will be called by your names and by your fathers' names; therefore keep you good names.

The best names in the sight of Allah [God] are `Abdu 'llah [the servant of God], `Abdu ar-Rahman [the servant of the Merciful One].

Call your children after your Prophet [Muhammad remains the most popular Muslim ism], but the names Allah likes best are `Abdu 'llah, `Abd ar-Rahman, and the next best names are Haris [husbandman] and Humam [high-minded]. The worst of names is Harb [enmity] or Murrah [bitterness].

The vilest name you can give a human being is maliku al-Amlak, or "King of kings", because no one can be such but Allah himself.

Shuraih ibn Hani' related that his father came to the Prophet with his tribe, and the Prophet heard them calling him Abu al-Hakam. The Prophet said, "why do you call him so? Hakam, `Ruler', is an attribute of Allah." And the Prophet ordered him to call himself Abu Shuraih, i.e., the father of Shuraih, his eldest son’s ism.

Some men have been named after the month of fasting during daylight hours, Ramadan. One humorous story has it that a man named Ramadan was traveling across the Sahara Desert and stopped for the night at a tent, asking shelter. The owner took him in and, giving him food, asked his name. Never having heard the name before, the tent owner thought that the man Ramadan was the cause of the month's fasting. While his guest slept, the tent owner killed him. A few months later a sheik told the Arab that "Next month is Ramadan, and you must fast." The Arab replied, "No, I don't have to fast any more, because when Ramadan was in my tent I killed him; now there is no more Ramadan."

 

As a final note, there are some naming practices which I have not found in Arabic. In my survey of Arabic naming practices, I found:

No double given names, in which an ism (or ‘Abd al-X, which is always used as an ism) follows an ism (or ‘Abd al-X). An instance which could be mistaken for such is when a laqab or nisba is being used in place of an ism and is followed immediately by another laqab or nisba. In such cases, the second laqab or nisba is not also being used in place of an ism: al-‘Alawi al-Basri is al-‘Alawi of Basra, not a double given name.

No unmarked patronymics. In some languages, what appears to be two given names in a row is actually the name of an individual followed immediately by that of his or her father, without any of the usual "markers" which indicate that the name is a patronym, such as -son, mac, ap, etc. This does not occur in Arabic; one always finds the particles ibn (son of) or bint (daughter of) in the nasab.

Almost no metronymics, that is to say, where a nasab includes the name of a person’s mother. There are a few. The best-known is that of ‘Isa ibn Maryam, Jesus the son of Mary. This is clearly a "special case", and not a general historical precedent. A second instance is the name of ‘Amr ibn Muhammad ibn Sulayman ibn Rashid, called ibn Banah. "They called him ‘the son of Banah’ after his mother." Here, it was basically a nickname, not a part of his "real" name. Finally, "Ensign has one example of a metronymic apparently based on the mother’s occupational byname."

No female-based kunyas, where a parent was named after the name of his or her eldest daughter. Kunyas are formed on the name of the eldest son.

MASCULINE ISMS [GIVEN NAMES]

Aban
Abbad
‘Abd al-Rahman
‘Abd Allah (Abdullah,Abdallah)
‘Abd al-Aziz
‘Abd al-Hamid
‘Abd al-Malik
‘Abd al-Zahir
‘Abdus
Ahmad
‘Ali
‘Allan
‘Alqamah
‘Ammar
‘Amr*
Anas
‘Aqil
‘Arubah
‘Asim
‘Ata’
Ayyub [Job]
Babak
Bakkar
Bakr
Bashshar
Baybars
Bilal
Bishr
Bundar
Da’ud [David]
Dabbah
Daffafah
Dahhak^
Damdam
Dirar
Durayd
Fadl*^
Farras
Fudayl
Ghalib
Ghassan
Habib
Hakam^
Hakim*
Hamdan
Hamdun
Hamid
Hammad
Hamzah
Harb
Harthamah
Harun (Haroun) [Aaron]
Hasan*^
Hashim
Hassan
Hilal
Hisham
Hujr
Humayd
Hunayn
Husayn^
Ibrahim [Abraham]
Idris
‘Imran
‘Isa (Isa) [Jesus]
Ishaq [Isaac]
Isma’il [Ishmael]
Iyas
Jabir
Ja’far
Jahm
Jibril [Gabriel]
Kamil
Khalaf
Khalid*
Khalil^
Khattab^
Khuzaymah
Labid
Lu’lu’
Ma’bad
Mahmud
Malik
Ma’n
Mansur
Ma’qil
Marwan
Maslamah
Maymun*
Mikha’il [Michael]
Mishal
Mu’adh
Mu’ammar
Mu’awiyah
Mughirah^
Muhammad [Mohammed]
Mujahid
Munqidh
Muqatil
Musa [Moses]
Muslim
Muzahim
Nafi’
Najdah
Nasr
Nuh [Noah]
Nusayr
Qatadah
Qays
Qudamah
Qurrah
Qutaybah
Rabi’a*
Rafi’
Ramadan
Rashid^
Rawh
Razin
Ru’bah
Sabur
Sa’d
Sa’dan
Sadaqah
Sa’id
Safwan
Sahl*
Salamah*
Salih
Salim
Salm*
Sandi
Sawwar
Sayf
Shabib
Shahib
Shahid
Shahin
Shaybah
Shihab
Shu’ayb
Shuqayr
Sinan
Sufyan
Sulaym
Sulayman (Sulaiman, Suleiman) [Solomon]
Surayj
Tahir
Talhah
Talib
Tamman
Tawbah
Tha’lab
Thabit
Thawabah
Thawr
‘Ubayd
‘Ubayd Allah
‘Umar
‘Umarah
Umayyah
‘Unaynah
‘Uqbah
‘Urwah
Usama (Usamah)
‘Utbah*
‘Uthman
Wada’
Wahb
Wasil
Ya’qub (Yakub) [Jacob]
Yahya [John]
Yamin
Yazid
Yuhanna
Yunus [Jonah]
Yusuf [Joseph]
Zakariya’ [Zacharias]
Zayd
Ziyad
Zubayr^
Zuhayr^

 

The following list is of the most popular masculine isms as found in the Fihrist of al-Nadim (see the Bibliography under "Dodge"), a translation of a 10th Century source. The number of individual entries in the biographical index for each ism were counted; sometimes one or two other entries in which a nasab included the specific ism was also included in the count, but these few "extra" entries should not affect the general ranking of popular usage of a name. Only isms which appeared more than ten times are included in the list below. They are ranked in order from most to less popular, and the number of entries found for each ism are included next to the ism. The only conclusions I will note from this list are: the overwhelming popularity of Muhammad, the name of the founding Prophet of Islam, and Ahmad, a variant of Muhammad (these two names alone comprise just over 30% of the entries of the most popular men’s names); and the fact that names drawn from Biblical sources (Islam accepts both Judaism and Christianity as its antecedents, in addition to the existence of Arab Jewish and Arab Christian minorities) have a strong popularity, comprising one-third of the names on this list, matching the popularity of the use of Biblical names in Christian Europe.

Name No.   Name No.
Muhammad243   Da'ud 19
Ahmad112   Salih 18
‘Ali 95   Ya'qub 18
‘Abd Allah 95   Yazid 17
Ibrahim 48   Khalid 17
Yahya 43   Sa'd 16
‘Umar 32   Thabit 16
Ishaq 32   Mansur 15
‘Isa 32   Bishr 14
Sa’id 32   Musa 14
Ja’far 31   Hisham 14
‘Amr29   Hammad 13
‘Abd al-Rahman 28   Nasr 13
Isma’il 28   Zayd 13
Sulayman 22   ‘Ubayd 13
‘Ubayd Allah 22   Harun 11
Yusuf 19      

FEMININE ISMS [GIVEN NAMES]

Abbasah
Abdah
`Abla (‘Ablah)
`Afra`
`A`isha (A'isha, Ayisha, Ayesha, Aisha)
Amimah
Aminah (Amina)
‘Amra*
Arwa
Asiya
Asma' (Asma)
`Atikah
Azizah
`Azzah
Banah
Banujah (Banuqah)
Baraka
Bilqis
Buran
Bushra
Buthaynah
Chiklah
Dahah
Dananir
Duqaq
Durra
Fadl*
Fatimah (Fatima)
Fawz
Fazila
Ghadir
Ghaniyah
Ghaythah
Hababah
Hafsah (Hafsa)
Hakeema (Hakima)*
Hala
Halima
Hamama
Hasanah (Hasana)*
Hawwa (Hawa, Hawwa’)
[Eve]
Hind
Hullah
Huma'i
Husn
`Ijliyah
`Ilm
`Inan (Inan)
Itimad
‘Izza
Jaida
Jamila
Jumana
Juml
Juwayriyyah
Kasif
Khadijah (Khadija)
Khaizuran
Khalida*
Khayra
Layla (Laila)
Lubaba
Lubna (Labna)
Mahabba
Malak
Manhalah
Marajil
Maridah
Mariyah
Maryam (Mariam) [Mary]
Maymuna (Maynmunah, Maimuna, Maimunah)*
Maysun
Mayy
Muhayya
Munisa
Munya
Muti’a
Nafisa
Naila
Nalkah
Nu'm
Nusayba
Nuwwar
Qabul
Qaribah
Rabab
Rabi'ah (Rabia)*
Rahil [Rachel]
Rahmat
Ramlah
Rayhana
Raym
Rayya
Rudaba
Raziya
Ruqayyah (Ruqayya)
Rusa (Rusha)
Sabiha
Saduf
Safiya (Safia) [Sophia]
Safwah
Saham
Sahla*
Sajah
Sakan
Salamah (Salama)*
Salma (Salmaa)*
Salsal
Sanaa
Sara [Sarah]
Sawda
Shaima
Shifa
Shiklah
Su'ad (Suad)
Subh
Sumayya
Sumnah
Thana'
`Ulayyah (Ulaiyah)
Umamah
Umayma
`Utbah*
Wahshiyah
Wallada
Warwar
Zaynab (Zainab)
Zebeebah (Zabibah)
Zubaydah (Zubaida, Zubaidah)
Zulaikha

MASCULINE COGNOMENS USED AS ISMS
including both laqabs and nisbas

al-‘Abbas [the frowner]
al-‘Ajjaj+
al-‘Ala’ [the exalted]
al-‘Alawi
al-A’rabi+ [the Arab]
al-‘As
al-Asadi
al-Aswad [the black[?]]
al-Athir
al-‘Awwam
al-Azhar [the shining]
al-Bakhtakan
al-Barsa’
al-Basir [the sagacious, the wise]
al-Batriq
al-Dahhak^
al-Darda’
al-Dayah
al-Fadl (al-Fadil) [the prominent]
al-Faraj
al-Fath [the victory]
al-Fayyad [the generous]
al-Furat
al-Haddad [the blacksmith]
al-Hajjaj
al-Hakam^ [the arbitrator, the judge]
al-Harith+
al-Hasan^ [the handsome]
al-Hawari
al-Haytham
al-Hayy
al-Hudhayl
al-Humayyir
al-Husayn^ [the beautiful]
al-Iskafi
al-Ja’d+
al-Jarrah
al-Jarud
al-Jud
al-Junayd [the army]
al-Khalil^ [the friend]
al-Khattab^
al-Khayyat+
al-Kumayt
al-Laqit
al-Layth
al-Mantiki
al-Maraghi
al-Massisi+
al-Minhal
al-Mu’afa’
al-Mubarak [the blessed, the fortunate]
al-Mufaddal+
al-Mughirah^
al-Muhallab
al-Muntahi
al-Muthanna
al-Nadir [the rare, the exceptional]
al-Nadr
al-Najjar+ [the carpenter]
al-Najm [the star (name of Sura 53 of the Qur’an]
al-Qasim [the distributor, the divider]
al-Rabi’ [the spring, springtime]
al-Sabbah
al-Sa’ib
al-Salt
al-Samh
al-Saqr
al-Shada’id
al-Sikkit
al-Silf
al-Siluf
al-Sindi [of Sind (India)]
al-Tabari+
al-Tathriyah
al-Tayyib+ [good, good-natured, generous]
al-Tirimmah
al-Tirmidhi+ [of Tirmidh]
al-Wafa’
al-Walid [the new, the newborn]
al-Ward
al-Yaman
al-Zajjaji+
al-Zubayr^
al-Zuhayr^ [small flower]

 

FEMININE COGNOMENS USED AS ISMS
including both laqabs and nisbas

al-‘Aliyya [the high, the lofty, the sublime]

 

MASCULINE COGNOMENS
including both laqabs and nisbas

al-‘Abarta’i [of ‘Abarta betw. Baghdad and al-Wasit)]
al-Abrash [[the Leper?]]
al-‘Absi
al-Adami
al-Adwani
al-Ahwazi
al-‘Ajjaj+
al-Allaf
al-A’rabi+ [the Arab]
al-‘Arudi
al-Asadi
al-Asamm
al-Ash’ari
al-Asturlabi [the astrolabe maker]
al-Aswari
al-Athram
al-‘Attar [the perfumer, the druggist]
al-A’war [the one-eyed]
al-‘Awwaqi [of the tribe Awwaq, near Basrah]
al-Azdi
al-Ba’labakki [of Baalbek]
al-Badawi [the Bedouin]
al-Baghdadi [of Baghdad]
al-Bahili
al-Bandaniji
al-Barbari
al-Basri [of Basra]
al-Bukhari [of Bukhara]
al-Buni [of al-Bawan (Afghanistan) or al-Bunah (No. Africa)]
al-Burjani [of Burjan]
al-Buzjani
al-Dabbi
al-Dabili
al-Darir [the blind]
al-Daylami [the Daylamite]
al-Dimashqi [of Damascus]
al-Du’ali
al-Duri
al-Farabi
al-Fazari
al-Firyabi
al-Ghallabi
al-Ghanawi
al-Ghassani [of the tribe or lineage of Ghassan]
al-Hadrami
al-Halabi
al-Halali
al-Hallaj [the cotton dresser]
al-Hamadhani [of Hamadhan]
al-Hamdani [of Hamdan]
al-Hamduni [of the tribe or lineage of Hamdun]
al-Harawi
al-Harbi [of the tribe or lineage of Harb]
al-Harith+
al-Harrani [of Harran]
al-Hashimi [the Hashimite; of the tribe or lineage of Hashim]
al-Hasib [the respected/the noble (not a name denoting rank)]
al-Hijazi [of the Hijaz region of the Arabian peninsula]
al-Himsi [of Hims[?]]
al-Hindi [the Indian]
al-Husayni [of the tribe or lineage of Husayn]
al-Ifriqi [the (north) African]
al-Ikhmimi [of Ikhmim, Egypt]
al-Isbahani [of Isbahan]
al-Iskafi [of the Iskafiyah sect of theMu’tazilah]
al-Ja’d+
al-Jahdami
al-Jahmi [of the tribe or lineage of Jahm]
al-Jaludi
al-Jarmi
al-Jayhani
al-Jurashi [of the Jurash region of al-Yaman]
al-Kabir [the elder]
al-Kalbi
al-Karabisi
al-Karkhi [of the Karkh quarter of Baghdad]
al-Karmani
al-Kasrawi
al-Katib [the author/writer]
al-Kaysani
al-Khallal
al-Khayyat+
al-Khurasani [of Khurasan]
al-Khwarizmi [of Khwarizm (Khiva)]
al-Kindi
al-Kufi [of al-Kufah]
al-Lu’lu’i [of Lu’lu’ah (near Damascus)]
al-Mada’ini [of al-Mada’in]
al-Madini [of Madinah (Medina)]
al-Maghribi [the (west) African]
al-Makhzumi [of the Makhzum tribe]
al-Makki [of Makkah (Mecca)]
al-Maraghi
al-Marwazi
al-Massisi+
al-Mawsili [of Mawsil (Mosul)]
al-Mazini
al-Misri [the Egyptian]
al-Mufaddal+
al-Muhallabi
al-Murri
al-Musayyabi
al-Muzani
al-Nabil [the honorable/the highborn (not a name denoting rank)]
al-Nahrutiri [of Nahr Tiri in al-Ahwaz region]
al-Naji [of the Najiyah tribe]
al-Najirami
al-Najjar+ [the carpenter]
al-Namari
al-Naqit
al-Naqqash
al-Nashi
al-Nasrani [the Christian]
al-Naysaburi [of Naysabur]
al-Nu’man
al-Nushari
al-Qattan [the cotton worker]
al-Qayrawani [of Qayrawan (Kairouan)]
al-Qummi
al-Qurqubi
al-Rahib [the monk]
al-Rajjani
al-Raqashi
al-Raqqi
al-Rashid^ [the rightly-guided]
al-Rashidi [of the tribe or lineage of Rashid]
al-Rawandi [of Rawand (in Persia)]
al-Razi
al-Riyashi
al-Rumi [of Rome (Constantinople)]
al-Sabi
al-Saff’ar
al-Saffar
al-Saghir [the young(er)]
al-Sakhawi [of Sakha, in Egypt]
al-Sakhtiyani [the leather dyer]
al-Salami [of Dar al-Salam (Baghdad)]
al-Salihi
al-Samari [of Samar or Simmar]
al-Sami
al-Saymari
al-Sha’bi
al-Sha’rani
al-Shaybani
al-Shirazi [of Shiraz]
al-Sijistani [of Sijistan]
al-Sini
al-Sirafi
al-Sufi [the Sufi, a member of that mystical Islamic sect]
al-Sukkari
al-Sulami
al-Suli [of the tribe of Sul]
al-Ta’i
al-Tabari+
al-Tahhan
al-Tahiri [of the tribe or lineage of Tahir]
al-Talaqani
al-Talhi
al-Tamimi
al-Tarikhi
al-Tatari
al-Tawwazi
al-Tayyib+ [the good, good-natured, generous]
al-Thaqafi
al-Tirmidhi
al-Tuluni
al-Tusi [of Tusa]
al-Tustari
al-Umawi
al-Uqlidsi [the studier of Euclid]
al-Warraq
al-Wasif
al-Wasiti [of Wasit]
al-Za’farani
al-Zajjaj
al-Zajjaji+
al-Zayyat
al-Zubayri [of the tribe or lineage of Zubayr]
al-Zuhri

 

FEMININE COGNOMENS
including both laqabs and nisbas

al-Akhyaliyah
al-Nahdiyah
al-Zarqa’ [the blue-eyed]

ARABIC EQUIVALENTS OF SCA TITLES OF NOBILITY

(from the list compiled by Master Wilhelm von Schlüssel,
Mulai ech Tachfin and Da'ud ibn Auda)

Male Titles of Nobility Female Titles of Nobility
King
Prince
Duke
Count
Viscount
Baron
Knight
Master
Lord
Malik/Sultan
Amir
Mushir (Musaitir)
Qadi
Naquib (Naqib)
Shayk (Sheik)
Faris
Mu'allim( Maulan)
Sayyid
Queen
Princess
Duchess
Countess
Viscountess
Baroness
Knight
Mistress
Lady
Malika/Sultana
Amira
Mushira(Musaitira)
Qadiya
Naquiba (Naqiba)
Shayka (Sheika)
Farisa
Mu'allima (Maulana)
Sayyida

These are the classical Arabic (the Arabic of the Qu'ran and that used among the educated classes) titles of nobility most equivalent to the SCA titles of nobility. Where a medieval Arabic form differs from the classical Arabic, it is given in parentheses. Either is appropriate for use.

When written as part of the name, the article "al-" precedes the title, which itself precedes the given name. Landed titles may have the titles followed by "al-" and the place name. Thus, for example, if Joseph, son of Jacob, known as the Fortunate, were King of Caid, His Arabic name and title in full would be written as: al-Malik (or al-Sultan) al-Caid Yusuf ibn Ya'qub al-Muayamman.

When used in person address, the word "ya" precedes "al-" before the title. Thus the above King of Caid could be addressed as Ya al-Malik al-Caid, the equivalent of My Lord King of Caid.

Caliph (kalifa) may not be used in the SCA, as it is the equivalent of both Emperor and Pope. The title sharif is used by the real descendants of the Prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatima's son Hasan, and may not be used in the SCA, as being a name claiming a specific relationship and thus disallowed by Rules for Submission VI.3.

Footnotes


* = Found in the sources reviewed in both masculine and feminine forms.
^ = Found in the sources reviewed both as an ism and as a laqab/nisba used as an ism
+ = Found in the sources reviewed both as a laquab/nisba and as a laqab/nisba used as an ism


BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Ahmed, Salahuddin, A Dictionary of Muslim Names, New York University Press, New York, 1999

Badeau, John S., et al., The Genius of Arab Civilization, Source of Renaissance, New York Univ. Press, New York, 1975

Dodge, Bayard, transl., Fihrist of al-Nadim: A Tenth-Century Survey of Muslim Culture, two volumes, Columbia Univ. Press, New York, 1970

Clot, André, Harun al-Rashid and the World of The Thousand and One Nights, New Amsterdam Books, New York, 1986

Gabrieli, Francesco, Arab Historians of the Crusades, Univ. of California Press, Berkeley, 1957

Guthrie, Shirley, Arab Social Life in the Middle Ages: An Illustrated Study, Saqi Books, London, 1995

Hillenbrand, Carole, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives, Routledge, New York, 2000

Hippocrene Books, Arabic First Names, Hippocrene Books, New York 1999

Lawrence, T.E., The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Poole, Dorset, 1986

Patton, Douglas, Badr al-Din Lu’lu: Atabeg of Mosul, 1211-1259, University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1991

Ranelagh, E.L., The Past We Share: The Near Eastern Ancestry of Western Folk Literature, London, 1979

Saunders, J.J., A History of Medieval Islam, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1965

Schimmel, Annemarie, As Through a Veil - Mystical Poetry in Islam, New York, 1982

Stewart, Desmond, Early Islam, Time, Inc., New York, 1967