The Meaning Behind Common Arabic Names Part 1
By: Lindsey Penn/Arab America Contributing Writer
In every culture, names have significance. Understanding these names can give a lot of insight into the culture, showing what is important to them in terms of qualities, history, and more. The Arab world is no different-each name has a specific meaning. Here are a few common names and their meaning. For each of these names, there are multiple ways to spell it in English. This article is the part 1 in a series.
Aisha (Arabic: عائشة)
A relatively common female name, this name means “alive” in Arabic. Aisha was the Prophet Muhammad’s third (and favorite) wife and the daughter of Abu Bakr. There are multiple ways to spell this name in English, such as Aicha, Ayesha, and more. In the United States, the name rose in popularity in the 1970s and has continued to be somewhat popular, with many families naming their daughters Aisha.
Some famous people with the name Aisha are: Aisha Abd al-Rahman, an Egyptian author, and Princess Aisha bint Al Hussein, King Abdullah II of Jordan’s sister.
Ahmad (Arabic: أحمد)
Ahmad is a common name for boys. It means “most praiseworthy” and is a superlative form for Hamid (Arabic: حميد), another name in Arabic.
Celebrities with the name Ahmad or Ahmed include: Ahmed Hassan, a soccer player from Egypt, Ahmed Shawqi, an Egyptian poet, and Ahmed Alaidy, a Saudi poet.
Bushra (Arabic: بشرى)
Bushra is commonly a name for girls, and it means “good news” in Arabic. As for celebrities named Bushra, Bushra Rozza is an Egyptian actress who mostly goes by her first name. The name is popular also in Turkey and Pakistan because it is also a Muslim name.
Bilal (Arabic: بلال)
It is a boy’s name that means “wetting”. Bilal was the name of one of Prophet Muhammad’s companions. It can be either a first or last name, although it is more common as a first name. Today, there are many people named Bilal, for example: Bilal Mohammed, a soccer player from Qatar, Bilal Najdi, a soccer player from Lebanon, and Bilal Moumen, another soccer player but from Algeria.
Dania (Arabic: دانية)
Dania is a girl’s name meaning “close” in Arabic. It is used in the Quran to describe the fruits and shades of the trees in Paradise, saying that they are always within reach.
Some famous people named Dania are Dania Khatib, who is a Lebanese singer, and Dania Nassief, a Saudi film producer.
Diya (Arabic: ضياء)
Although more commonly used for boys, Diya can also be used for girls. Diya means “light” or “glow”. One of the other ways to spell it is “Zia”, it is also used as a surname. For example, there is Sameer Zia, who is a cricket player from the UAE.
Iman (Arabic: ايمان)
Meaning “faith”, this name is usually for girls. In Persian, however, it is used mostly for boys. There are famous men and women named Iman, although the most well-known is Iman, a Somalian model.
Isa (Arabic: عيسى)
Isa is the Arabic name for Jesus. It is found in the Quran as Isa and is a Muslim name for boys. Christian Arabs typically say Yasu’a (Arabic: يسوع) for Jesus. One well-known person named Isa is Isa bin Salman al Khalifa, who was the first emir of Bahrain.
Fadi (Arabic: فادي)
Also spelled Fadi, this is a boy’s name meaning “savior” or “redeemer”, another Arabic name for Jesus. As for famous people with the name Fadi or Fady, there is Fadi Afash, a soccer player from Syria, Fady Joudah, a Palestinian American poet, and Fady Fatrouni, a Lebanese singer.
Fatimah (Arabic: فاطمة)
Fatimah is a girl’s name meaning “to abstain”. The Prophet Muhammad’s daughter was named Fatimah, as well as Ali’s (the fourth caliphate) wife. It has become a widely popular Muslim name. Some famous people with the name Fatimah include: Fatima Aouam, a Moroccan runner, Fatima Jibrell, a Somalian environmentalist, and Fatima Siad, a Somalian model.
Hakim (Arabic: حكيم)
Hakim is a name for boys. It means “wise”, and can be used as a first or last name. In Islam, al Hakim is one of the 99 names of Allah. The name has gained some popularity around the world, not just in the Arab world. As for famous people named Hakim, there is the Egyptian singer Abdel Hakim Abdel Samad Kamel, otherwise known as Hakim, Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, an Iraqi politician, and Tawfiq al Hakim, an Egyptian novelist.
Hanan (Arabic: حنان)
Hanan is a girl’s name and means “mercy” and “compassion” in Arabic. A few famous people named Hanan are: Hanan Mohamed Abdelrahman (an Egyptian educator), Hanan al-Shaykh (a Lebanese author), and Hanan Ashrawi (a Palestinian legislator and activist).
Jamila (Arabic: جميلة)
Jamila means beautiful and is a girl’s name. It has become incredibly popular around the world, with many cultures having their own version of the name. Jamila was the name of one of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions as well. Some famous people with variations of Jamila are: Djamila Bouhired, an Algerian nationalist, and Jamila Mujahed, an Afghani journalist.
Jamil (Arabic: جميل)
Jamil has the same meaning as Jamila, but is the male version. Jamal is another version of the name with the same meaning. Similarly to Jamila, it has been adapted by many cultures. A few famous people with the name Jamil are: Jamil Majdalawi, a Palestinian politician, Jamil el Reedy, an Egyptian skier, Jamil Sidqi al-Zahawi, an Iraqi poet, and Jamil al-Ushi, a Syrian politician.
Here is a huge list of Arabic names.
Look for Part 2 for more names!
Check out Arab America’s blog here!