A Pleasant Name Exemplifies a Good Sign

Shaykh Musa Shaleem Mohammed

The Messenger (ﷺ) would view a pleasant name as a good sign, so a father should give his child a pleasant name, as a pleasant name may be a good sign of forthcoming events.
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The Messenger (ﷺ) always loved a good sign. Anas ibn Mālik (رضي الله عنه) narrated: “The Prophet (ﷺ) said: ‘Evil omens are non-existent, but a good sign pleases me.’ They said: ‘What is a good sign?’ He (ﷺ) responded: ‘A pleasant word [is a good sign.]’”1 Consequently, the Messenger (ﷺ) changed the unpleasant names of many Companions to a pleasant one.

Usāmah ibn Akhdarī (رحمه الله) reported:

A group of people visited the Prophet (ﷺ), and a man called Aṣram (رضي الله عنه) accompanied them. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “What is your name?” He replied: “I am Aṣram [Aṣram is derived from the word to sever, or to cut, or to harvest which implies destruction].” The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “No! You are Zurʿah [which mean to cultivate and to grow].”2

Ibn al-Mulaqqin (d. 804 AH) (رحمه الله) stated: “The Prophet (ﷺ) would recommend a name change because a good sign always pleased him.”3

Other scenarios further prove that the Messenger (ﷺ) would view a pleasant name as a good sign. Al-Miswar ibn Makhramah and Marwān (رضي الله عنهما) recalled the events of the treaty of Al-Ḥudaybiyyah: “When Suhayl [which means gentle and easy going] ibn ʿAmr entered, the Prophet (ﷺ) said: ‘The matter has now become easy.’”4 The matter did become easy because both parties, the Muslims and non-Muslims alike, eventually came to an agreement which was detailed in the treaty of Al-Ḥudaybiyyah.

Badr al-Dīn al-ʿAynī (d. 855 AH) (رحمه الله) commented: “The Prophet (ﷺ) viewed the name Suhayl as a good sign, and the matter did become easy.’”5

Yaḥyá ibn Saʿīd (رضي الله عنه) recalled another incident:

Allāh’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “Who will milk this sheep?” A man stood. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “What is your name?” He said: “My name is Ḥarb [which means war].” The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Sit!” The Prophet (ﷺ) asked again: “Who will milk this sheep?” Another man stood. The Prophet (ﷺ) then asked: “What is your name?” He said: “My name is Murrah [which means distasteful and bitter].” The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Sit!” The Prophet (ﷺ) asked again: “Who will milk this sheep?” Another man stood. The Prophet (ﷺ) then asked: “What is your name?” He said: “My name is Yaʿīsh [which means to live or to survive].” The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Milk the sheep!” So Yaʿīsh milked the sheep.6

Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr (d. 463 AH) (رحمه الله) commented: “[Only Yaʿīsh (رضي الله عنه) was permitted to milk the sheep because] his name exemplified a good sign.”7 So the Messenger (ﷺ) would have hoped that Yaʿīsh would at least be able to complete the task successfully.

Ibn al-Qayyim (رحمه الله) added: “This [Ḥadīth] also proves that a fitting relationship exists between a person and his name.”8 Ibn al-Qayyim (رحمه الله) meant that not only did Yaʿīsh (رضي الله عنه) have a pleasant name, but also a suitable relationship existed between his name and the appointed task which is that the Messenger (ﷺ) would have hoped that the milk Yaʿīsh—which means to live or to survive—(رضي الله عنه) fetched would have provided the essential nourishments for survival, and this is also why the Prophet (ﷺ) chose him specifically to fulfil this task.

Buraydah (رضي الله عنه) recollected these situations:

The Prophet (ﷺ) never viewed anything as an evil omen, but whenever he wanted to send a delegate, the Prophet (ﷺ) would ask about his name. If the delegate had a pleasant name, the Prophet (ﷺ) would become happy, and the Prophet’s (ﷺ) happiness would manifest on his face, but if the Prophet (ﷺ) disliked the delegate’s name, the Prophet’s (ﷺ) displeasure would manifest on his face.

[Similarly,] when the Prophet (ﷺ) entered a village, he would ask about its name. If the name pleased him, he would become happy, and his happiness would manifest on his face, but if he disliked the name, his displeasure would manifest on his face.9

The Messenger (ﷺ) would have hoped that dispatching a delegate who had a nice name would yield a positive outcome, as he (ﷺ) would have also hoped that he (ﷺ) would have been successful in his ventures when visiting a village with a pleasant name. As for the Messenger’s (ﷺ) displeasure, then he (ﷺ) would always prefer a pleasant name, as he would see it as a good sign. The Messenger (ﷺ) never viewed anything as an evil sign, since this is having bad thoughts about Allāh, so he never viewed a distasteful name, like Aṣram, as a bad omen. So, whenever the Messenger (ﷺ) would hear a distasteful name, he would become displeased, and his displeasure would become apparent.

Therefore, give your children pleasant names, for a pleasant name may be a good sign of forthcoming events.

Endnotes:

1 Reported by al-Bukhārī ((5756) and (5776)) and Muslim (2224).
2 Reported by Abū Dāwūd (4954), and Shaykh al-Albānī deemed it authentic.
3 Al-Tawḍīḥ, vol. 28, pg. 614.
4 Reported by al-Bukhārī (2731) and (2732).
5 ʿUmdah al-Qārī, vol. 14, pg. 12.
6 Reported by Ibn Wahb in Al-Jāmiʿ (752) and Mālik in Al-Muwaṭṭaʾ (794).
7 Al-Istidhkār, vol. 8, pg.513.
8 Tuḥfah al-Mawlūd, pg. 51.
9 Reported by Abū Dāwūd (3920), and Shaykh al-Albānī graded it authentic.

Published: December 31, 2022
Edited: January 13, 2023

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