Ashley is my Muslim Name.

During a recent trip to North Africa to visit my in-laws, I began to notice a subtle but super irritating trend in the way that all of my interactions with Algerian women seemed to be going.

Them (imagine it in Algerian Arabic dialect): “Oh salaam alaikum! You’re American? Oooooh mashAllah! What’s your name?”

Me (with a big smile, excited to meet someone new): “Wa alaikum salaam! My name is Ashley.”

Blank stare.

Them: “No, no, I meant your real/new/Islamic/Muslim name!”

Me (big smile fading): “Ummm….My name is Ashley…”

Blank stares and uncomfortable silence all around the room.

My Husband: “Oh but she really likes the name Asmaa!”

Them: “Ooooh, nice to meet you Asmaa!!”

And this happened pretty much every single time I met someone new. Some just got confused when I told them my name was Ashley, but some just outright refused to call me by my name until my husband stepped in and explained that I also like the name Asmaa. Which is technically true, I do like the name. I like it for my husband or my close friends to call me that. But when I meet a stranger and they refuse to use the name my mother gave me, I am actually a bit offended.

To imply that my name, the name I have used to identify myself my entire 23 years on this earth, is somehow invalid, not real, or that I am somehow less “Islamic” by using my American name is not OK with me.

I am a Muslim. My name is Ashley. Therefore, Ashley is my Muslim name.

After all, Aisha, Asmaa, Khadija, and many others are just Arabic names that happened to become Muslim names when their owners converted. And don’t get me wrong, these women were all amazing examples to be named after. But I’m not (named after them that is).

This is something I see a lot; there is so much pressure on converts, sometimes seconds after they have said their testimony of faith, to change their names. As if their Islam is somehow not valid unless they have an Arabic name. As if the only way to be a full, real Muslim is to start calling yourself one of the various popular Muslim names.

The actual ruling on this? It is 100% not necessary, unless your name means something bad. The only examples of the Prophet (pbuh) telling someone to change their name when they converted was when their old (but still Arabic) name had a negative connotation or meaning (or if it meant something forbidden in Islam). Abu Bakr was Abu Bakr (ra) before and after Islam. Same with Umar (ra), Khadija (ra), Aisha (ra), and countless other companions.

So if there are people putting pressure on you to change your name, gently remind them that Ashley (or Lily, or Bridget, or Kaitlyn, or Elizabeth, etc.) is a Muslim name.

And if you are the one putting on that pressure, please do realise that converts have a lot of other things on their plate, and may need a bit more gentle support and a bit less of a to-do list, especially if they have a beautiful, lovely name in whatever their culture and language is that does not need to be changed just on the basis of not being Arabic.

Until next time,

Peace.

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10 thoughts on “Ashley is my Muslim Name.

  1. Pingback: 5 Things to Stop Asking Converts – Muslimah According to Me

  2. My mate Ben has the same problem. And British Asians are, in my experience, the worst for this. You haven’t known annoyance until you’ve been asked what your “good name” is!

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  3. Pingback: A Reflection: My Two Year Anniversary and My Second Shahada – Muslimah According to Me

  4. ❤ I love this! And you explain it so beautifully as well masha'Allah. Changing your religion is a dramatic enough change for your identity without also being pressured to change your name as well. I have friends who willingly chose beautiful names for themselves masha'Allah, and if that is their choice then that is totally fine. But if you want to help a revert, make sure they know how to pray, help them learn Arabic, or just be there as a friend. Don't try to erase their identity as though their life before Islam is now counts for nothing.

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  5. Exactly! Very rarely has anyone asked me what my “Muslim” name is, Alhamdulillah I would be mortified. But I do remember once, going to the mosque with my nephew. The lady was trying to tell me something so she asked my name and I told her. She looked at me like, what??? I laughed because it’s hard enough for British people to say my name never mind Arabs. So I told her my nickname which 90% of people call me anyway, “Lala” and I knew that would be very easy for her but instead she called me “Fatma.” I found it a bit odd just to make up a name but that’s honestly the only time anyone has ever tried to change my name… I left the mosque just laughing and made a joke out of it calling my family at home “Fatma” for a while till the joke got old… but I can see why this is annoying. Don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself though. Islam makes your heart soft but in character you should be a lion ❤ ❤ ❤ in sha Allah!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ashleybounoura

      Wa alikum salaam!
      I’m glad you can relate, it is one of the most irritating things someone can ask me, what my “Muslim name” is…drives me bananas!

      I hope you will find the rest of the posts just as relatable in shaa Allah!

      Juzakum Allahu khairan for stopping by and taking the time to comment =)

      Liked by 1 person

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