Is it permitted to name your child Abd al-Nabi (slave of the Prophet)?



Islamic Text

It is not permitted to have the name Abd al-Nabi in the Hanafi Madhab according to leading scholars like Imam Ali al-Qari and Ibn Abideen.

عَنْ أَنَسٍ، قَالَ: قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ، حَتَّى أَكُونَ أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ وَالِدِهِ وَوَلَدِهِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ

(Sayidina) Anas  narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘None of you (truly) believe until I am more beloved to him than his parents, children and all of mankind.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, 15).

Every Muslim should love the Prophet ﷺ dearly, this love should be stronger than any other except for our love for Allah (Most High). However, the expression of such love must be in line with the teachings of Islam. Unfortunately, some ignorant Muslims attempt to override the rulings of the Sharia (sacred law) with emotional arguments. This is a dangerous path and leads to widespread corruption and misguidance. Rather we must be guided by the revelation of Allah (Most High) and not our personal understanding or emotions.

The Hanafi scholars have clearly stated that names like Abd al-Nabi are not allowed. This is the position of the Madhab, to object to it with sectarian or emotional arguments is unacceptable. However, it is fine to consider the views of other Madhaahib of Ahl Sunnah if they differ.

وأما ما اشتهر من التسمية بعبد النبي، فظاهره كفر، إلا إن أراد بالعبد المملوك. (منح الروض الأزهر)

It has become widespread to name people Abd al-Nabi, the apparent of this is Kufr unless one intends ownership by Abd. (Imam Ali al-Qari, Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar).

وَلَا يَجُوزُ نَحْوُ عَبْدِ الْحَارِثِ وَلَا عَبْدِ النَّبِيِّ، وَلَا عِبْرَةٌ بِمَا شَاعَ فِيمَا بَيْنَ النَّاسِ (مرقاة المفاتيح)

And it is not permitted to (name with) the likes of Abd al-Haarith nor Abd al-Nabi. No consideration is given to the fact that this is widespread amongst the people. (Imam Ali al-Qari, Mirqaat al-Mafateeh).

In the Nusoos (texts) above Imam Ali al-Qari speaks strongly against naming someone Abd al-Nabi, and explains that a practice being widespread in a community has no bearing on the legal ruling. This is because legal rulings are taken from Quran and Hadith, not from culture. The Sharia only permits linking the name Abd to one of the Holy Names of Allah (Most High). Had it been permitted to name with the likes of Abd al-Nabi or Abd al-Rasool, then we would have found such examples amongst the Sahabah (May Allah Most High be pleased with them).

وَيُؤْخَذُ مِنْ قَوْلِهِ وَلَا عَبْدَ فُلَانٍ مَنْعُ التَّسْمِيَةِ بِعَبْدِ النَّبِيِّ وَنَقَلَ الْمُنَاوِيُّ عَنْ الدَّمِيرِيِّ أَنَّهُ قِيلَ بِالْجَوَازِ بِقَصْدِ التَّشْرِيفِ بِالنِّسْبَةِ، وَالْأَكْثَرُ عَلَى الْمَنْعِ خَشْيَةَ اعْتِقَادِ حَقِيقَةِ الْعُبُودِيَّةِ كَمَا لَا يَجُوزُ عَبْدُ الدَّارِ اهـ. (رد المحتار على الدر المختار)

We can deduce from his saying, and not the slave of such and such, that it is not permitted to name someone Abd al-Nabi. Al-Munawi narrated from al-Damiri that it has been said that it is permitted, with the intention of nobility through connection. However, the majority said it is not permitted due to the fear that people may fall into the belief that it means true slave-hood, just like it is not permitted to name someone Abd al-Daar. (Imam Ibn Abideen, Radd al-Muhtaar).

In the text above Imam Ibn Abideen clarifies the prohibition in the Hanafi Madhab. However, there does seem to be some difference of opinion in other Madhaahib, which can be researched by those interested in following another opinion.

And Allah (Most High) Knows Best.

– Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (01.09.2021)

See also:

Hadith about loving the Prophet ﷺ mentions father only?

Is it acceptable to name a child David instead of Dawood or Mary instead of Maryam?

Woman Taking the Surname of Her Husband

See also (video):