Ruling on changing one’s name and being circumcised after converting to Islam – Fatwas of Nur Ala Al-Darb

Q: Is it necessary for new converts to Islam to change their names? Should an adult convert be circumcised?

A: It is permissible for new Muslims to change their names if they carry wrong or bad meanings, as this is a sign of conversion to Islam. If one asks the reason for a convert having changed their name, in most cases, their names before converting to Islam were not suitable, thus they felt it necessary to change them to Islamic names such as Saleh, Ahmad, `Abdullah, `Abdul-Rahman, Muhammad, etc. Names which suggest slavery to other than Allah such as `Abdul- Messiah, `Abdul-Zahra, or `Abd-Musa must be changed to `Abdullah, `Abdul-Rahman and the like, as servitude is to Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) Alone. Therefore, it is best to change names which express servitude to other than Allah and which are familiar and used by the Kuffar (disbelievers) to Islamic names.

It is better for new Muslims to get circumcised by highly-skilled, experienced doctors, even when accepting Islam as adults. A group of scholars hold that it is Wajib (obligatory) upon new converts be circumcised unless there is fear of harm. If a doctor feels that circumcision may harm them, it is waived in this case. However, if a doctor know that it will not cause them any harm, they should be circumcised.

Circumcision is a stressed Sunnah and Wajib according to a group of scholars. Therefore, if it is feasible for an adult to be circumcised without suffering any harm, it is better and safer to undergo such procedure, otherwise they do not have to do it.

If getting circumcised will drive a person away from Islam, it should not be mentioned to them. It can also be abandoned, for embracing Islam is a great bounty even without being circumcised. Therefore, a new convert need not be informed of this if it will turn them away from Islam.

When a new convert becomes steadfast in Islam, they should be circumcised, if it would not pose any risk to their health; otherwise they should not undergo this procedure.

Fatwas of Nur `Ala Al-Darb>Volume 1>Chapter on `Aqidah>

Circumcision for new convert – is it Sunnah or Obligation? – Permanent Committee

Q: On our visit to Uganda, we noticed that some Christians bring their children to embrace Islam in an orphanage for newly converted Muslims. When the parents were asked why they themselves do not embrace Islam, their answer was that they fear being circumcised. What is the opinion of Your Eminence concerning this?


It is not necessary to demand that they be circumcised, if they fear that, for this is Sunnah (action following the teachings of the Prophet) and not an obligatory action, according to the majority of scholars. Those who maintain that circumcision is obligatory restrict it to situations where there are no fears for the circumcised person’s safety.

If this fear of circumcision prevents those Christians from embracing Islam, they should not be asked to do it at the time of embracing Islam. When Islam becomes firm in their hearts, this matter can be reconsidered.

May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his Companions.

Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’

Member     Member     Member     Member     Deputy Chairman     Chairman
Bakr Abu Zayd     `Abdul-`Aziz Al Al-Shaykh     Salih Al-Fawzan     `Abdullah ibn Ghudayyan     `Abdul-Razzaq `Afify     `Abdul-`Aziz ibn `Abdullah ibn Baz

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