The World Federation One Stop Fiqh

Ask an Alim

Name Change Of Women After Marriage.


What is the Islamic perspective according to the ahlulbayt on a woman changing her last name after marriage. Is it recommended or looked down upon?

Are there any historical examples of women changing their last names?


 In most cases the last name of a person indicates his/her family
name. This helps in tracing the background and family ancestors of a
person. For example, the author of the famous book al-Muraja’aat, was
Sayyid ‘Abdul Husayn Sharaf al-Din al-Musawi. From this name, we come to
know that he was from the generation of Imam Musa al-Kazim (a).

 The Holy  Quran narrates stories of about twenty women. With the
exception of Sayyida Maryam (Mary), the names of all the women have been
derived from Hadith and historical books. Hawwa or Eve, wife of Nabi Adam
and the mother of human race, appears in the Quran a number of times. But
she is mentioned when Allah talks to Adam (a) saying: And We said, O
Adam: Dwell you and your wife (Q 2:35, 7:19); Then We said: O Adam, this
(iblis) is an enemy to you and your wife (Q 20:117); And their Lord
called the two of them saying: Did I not forbid the two of you from that
tree (Q 7:22).  The mother and sister of Nabi Musa (a) appear when the
Quran narrates the story of the birth of Musa: And We inspired the mother
of Musa, Suckle him (Q 28:7); The heart of Musa’s mother was relieved
(Q 28:10); And she (Musa’s mother) told his sister (i.e. Musa’s
sister) to follow her brother (Q 28:11). Asiya, the virtuous and an
upright servant/maid of Allah, is referred to as the wife of Pharaoh
(28:8, 66:11). The Holy Quran often mentions many differnet events in the
life of Prophet Muhammad (s). However, his wives (Q 33:50, 66:1,3,5) and
daughters (Q 33:59) appear in the Holy Quran without the mention of their
names. As for Bibi Maryam (Mary), why has she been mentioned by name? It
may be on account of her great status and her story in the Quran that
covers her from the time of her conception (Q 3:35) in the womb of her
mother till the time she gives birth to Nabi Isa (a). Moreover, Allah
granted her a son without her being touched by a male (Q 3:47). Allah
knows best.

 In the Quranic context, women do not get mentioned by name but are
referred to through their male relatives such as father, husband, brother
and son. Does this mean that married women should change their family
names after their marriage and abandon the mention of their own family
connections? It is highly unlikely, for we have not come across any
Islamic law which requires this practice from a married woman. There are
many women who take the family names of their husband upon marriage.
However there are many other women who keep their own (or their
fathers) family name even after marriage. This practice is more
apparent in some cultures and in the personalities of some women. It is
said that Salma bint ‘Amr, the wife of Hashim ibn ‘Abd Manaf (the
great-grandmother of Prophet Muhammad (s)) was a powerful woman who
enjoyed her own position and tribal prestige. She consented to marry
Hashim on the condition that the control of her affairs should remain
entirely in her own hand.  When she bore him a son she kept the boy with
her in Yathrib (Madina) until he was 14 years old or more.

Khawla bint Ja’far b. Qays al-Hanafiyya, who bore a son from Amirul Mu’mineen
Ali b. Abi Talib (a), maintained her own family name even after her
marriage. Thus, her son Muhammad is referred to in history as Muhammad
bin Hanafiyya.

 In short, to the best of our understanding, there is no Shari’ah
requirement for a woman to change her family name after her marriage. She
can take her husband’s name to make it easier for her to be included in
the family or keep her own family name or keep both the names.

Hasanayn Kassamali