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Married woman to retain her maiden name


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Zeynab
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« on: July 11, 2008, 03:51:55 am »

The ideology of Islam has always encouraged a woman to retain her maiden name upon marriage. As we see through history, Muslim women of previous generations adhered to that practice.  But gradually being influenced by Western traditions, many Muslim families went along those steps and women began taking on their husbands' surnames under the misconception that it made them more modern.  Though a closer look at this Western tradition tells us that it's a highly derogatory practice toward women.  I wonder how the modern-day feminists haven't thought of it.  Taking away a woman's maiden name after marriage is robbing her of her birth identity.  It's not done with men, so why must it be done with women?  From the time of birth till adulthood is a very important part of a person's life, be it man or woman.  It consists of the home they grew up in and their association with their parents which is the most important earthly relationship between humans.  Thus, discarding a woman's maiden name after her marriage is an unfair law and a rude gesture.  Nowadays some married Western women do sometimes use their family surname as a middle name, but that's rare and officially quite insignificant.  The title with which they are commonly recognized is "Mrs. such and such" that contains their husband's family name.  

Also, nowadays in many parts of the Muslim world, some women are becoming aware of this matter and are demanding to keep their family names after marriage.  In countries such as Iran, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, women often do not change their name after marriage.  This requires court action and a justification other than wanting one's husband name.  While in casual conversation such married women may at times be referred to as "Mrs. ..." yet legally she retains her name which is her father's last name.

Muslim women have always been allowed and expected to keep their maiden names after marriage.  This is an indication of their independence.

There are various verses in the Glorious Quraan that, if analysed, uphold this concept and lead to the conclusion of the importance of retaining a woman's maiden name even after she's married.

To look into this aspect from the Quraanic view point, we need to analyse the issue on adoption in the Quraan.

Adoption with the intent of changing one’s identity and lineage is clearly not allowed in the Quraan, but at the same time, Muslims are allowed to adopt a child with the intention of taking him/her under his/her guardianship for providing both physical and spiritual care. But the Quraan's stance on adoption rests on the necessity of keeping the biological parents of the child always in picture.  The says that the adopted child must be told who their biological parents are. From this I would clearly understand that it's preferable (if not necessary) to retain the original name of the child.  Thus, Muslims can raise (or adopt)  these children, look after them, and support them, but the children must be named after their real fathers.  Howeverm it isn't a sin if a person is named after the wrong father by mistake.  Probably it may also not be a violation if the real parents are unknown and thus child takes the name of his/her adopted parents.  

"Allah hath not assigned unto any man two hearts within his body, nor hath He made your wives whom ye declare (to be your mothers) your mothers, nor hath He made those whom ye claim (to be your sons) your sons. This is but a saying of your mouths. But Allah saith the truth and He showeth the way."  33:4

"Proclaim their real parentage. That will be more equitable in the sight of Allah. And if ye know not their fathers, then (they are) your brethren in the faith, and your clients. And there is no sin for you in the mistakes that ye make unintentionally, but what your hearts purpose (that will be a sin for you). Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful."  33:5


Maintaining and establishing one's biological lineage is one of the reasons as to why from the Islamic perspective, giving birth by articifial insemination is not considered proper.  The child's biological father remains unknown in most cases.  

The Quraanic emphasis on retaining a person's family surname (be it man or woman) is evident.  Also, in this connection, the Quraan does not mention nor does it give any reason to presume that marriage is an exception after which one's father's name can be abandoned.  

Besides, a person's original family surname is important in Islam also because many social rules like inheritance, custody, provision etc. are connected with blood relationships.

Thus, as per the information provided to us in the Quraan, only the children of a woman are to take her husband's name (i.e. the children's father), and similarly, she must adhere to her own father's name.

Any comments or feedback would be helpful and appreciated.

Only Allah knows best.
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Heba E. Husseyn
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« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2008, 07:14:23 pm »

I've thought of this many times.  I guess it's a matter of plain thinking.  I like your view on changing the maiden name after marriage as "robbing a woman of her birth identity."  That's precisely what it is.  This practice is a subtle reflection of Biblical values that have always subjugated women as a "nobody" who aren't worthy of recognition unless they ride on the coattails of their husbands. 

I suppose apparently it's these demeaning gestures pertaining to orthodox Christian values that once had such a strong hold in the Western society that have eventually created a backlash, and today we see feminism going to the other exteme. 

Salaam and thanks sister Smiley
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Zeynab
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2008, 03:40:26 am »

This practice is a subtle reflection of Biblical values that have always subjugated women as a "nobody" who aren't worthy of recognition unless they ride on the coattails of their husbands. 

Absolutely right.


I suppose apparently it's these demeaning gestures pertaining to orthodox Christian values that once had such a strong hold in the Western society that have eventually created a backlash, and today we see feminism going to the other exteme. 


That's excellent observation.  Too much of anything eventually rebounds to the other extreme as an erratic part of human nature.
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2009, 08:41:33 pm »

Very good post.  It's absolutely correct that married women are Islamically fully entitled to retain their father's name.  Only their children are to take the husband's name, provided the children are the biological offspring of the husband.  But if that husband is the children's step-father, then the children need to retain the surname of their mother's previous husband who is the children's real father.
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