History of Arabic Names
Did you know that over 300 million people who live in Islamic countries speak the Arabic language? The list of at least 24 countries in the Middle East includes Syria, Egypt, and even Morocco. Many parents choose an Arabic name for their child because of its religious significance, as many of the names are derived from the Hebrew Bible.
The Arabic language itself is over 1,500 years old, dating back to around the sixth century, but it is said by some that its history goes back even further. One size doesn’t fit all, though. Depending on the country you are in, there are several different dialects. Some examples are Egyptian Arabic and Gulf Arabic. It is also one of the 6 official languages of the United Nations. The other 5 are Chinese, English, French, Spanish, and Russian.
Naming Rules and Traditions
Instead of the traditional given, middle, and last name that we are used to, Arabs have a chain of names. There are 4 parts to the structure that Arabs tend to follow. The ism (given or first name), nasab (indicates heritage), laqab (descriptive of the person and can be a nickname, title, surname, or family name), nisbah (name of ancestral tribe, city, or country), and kunya (a type of epithet referring to the bearer's first-born son or daughter, sometimes a nickname).
The Most Common Arabic Girl Names (and Meanings)
- Aaliyah - Hebrew for "exalted" and is also of Arabic origin and means "heavens" or "high born."
- Aisha - This name means "life" in Arabic.
- Amal - This name has a few different meanings including Hebrew for "labor" and Arabic for "hope" and "lamb."
- Farah - Old English for "beautiful" and is based on the Arabic word for "happiness."
- Fatima - Arabic for "daughter of the prophet."
- Jamila - The Arabic name for "beautiful."
- Khadija - Arabic for "the prophet's first wife" and "trustworthy."
- Layla - Arabic name meaning "dark as the night."
- Malika- Arabic for "queen" or "princess" and is also Hindi for "jasmine."
- Rihanna - The Arabic meaning of this name is "sweet basil" and it is also a derivative of the Welsh name "Rhiannon."
- Salma - This name is Spanish for "ambitious."
- Shakira - an Arabic name meaning "grateful."
- Yadira - Hebrew for "friend" or "companion."
- Zahra - Arabic for "shining" or "luminous" and also Swahili for "flowers."
- Zoya - This Muslim name with Arabic origins means "love" and "life." It also has Persian roots as well.
Image: Al Ula, Saudi Arabia
The Most Common Arabic Boy Names (and Meanings)
- Abdullah - A prominent Arabic figure in the Quran, who calls himself "the servant of Allah."
- Adnan - A name of Arabic origin that means "settler."
- Ahmad - Arabic name meaning "praised one."
- Allah - This is the name of the only God in Islam.
- Amir - This is the English version of the Arabic word "emir" and it means "princely."
- Habib - Arabic for "loved one" or "beloved."
- Hassan - Arabic for "good-looking" and the Muslim variant of "Hasan."
- Ibrahim - This is the Arabic version of "Abraham" and the ancestor of all Semitic people; both Hebrews and Arabs.
- Karim - Arabic for "charitable" and "generous."
- Masood - A Muslim name derived from "Masud," which means "happy" or "lucky."
- Mohammed - This is the English spelling of the name "Muhammad" (well known from the Prophet Muhammad) and it means "praiseworthy" or "thankful to God" in Arabic.
- Omar - Arabic for 'follower of the prophet."
- Qadir - Arabic name meaning "talented."
- Rahim - Arabic for "merciful" or "compassionate."
- Yusuf - Arabic for "to increase" and Hebrew for "God increases."
Unique Arabic Boy Names (and Meanings)
- Ajmal - Arabic for "more beautiful."
- Ali - Arabic for "exalted" and Muslim for "protected by God."
- Amin - Arabic for "trustworthy" or "faithful."
- Badr - Arabic for "full moon."
- Bilal - Based on the Arabic word for "moist," it is shared by the companion of Muhammad.
- Faisal - Arabic for "decisive" or "criterion."
- Jafar - Sanskrit for "little stream" and was once trending due to the villain in the animated movie Aladdin.
- Khalid - Arabic name meaning "immortal" or "eternal" and made popular by an American R&B songwriter of the same name.
- Nasir - Arabic for "winning" or "protector."
- Zayn - Arabic for "beauty" and made popular by Zayn Malik, a former member of One Direction.
Unique Arabic Girl Names (And Meanings)
- Aabidah - Muslim name for "worshipper."
- Amira - A name of Hebrew and Arabic origin that means "princess."
- Basimah - Arabic for "smile."
- Elham - Persian for "inspiration" and spelled "Ilhami" in Turkic languages.
- Falak - Hindi for "heaven."
- Jannat - Muslim for "paradise."
- Nadia - French, and Slavic for "hopeful."
- Shokoufeh - Persian for "tree flower."
- Taima - Native American for "crash of thunder."
Most Popular Arabic First Names on FamilyEducation: Zaki, Nasir, Zahra, Laila