Muslim converts in Perlis need not change father’s name

Kangar, Malaysia - The Perlis Fatwa Council has declared that non-Muslims converting to Islam must retain their father’s name or surname and need not have the bin or binti Abdullah.

Perlis Mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said the edict or fatwa aimed to address the complaints by non-Muslims, who have stated that their right to retain the name of their father or surname when converting to Islam had been denied.

“When non-Muslims convert to Islam, their name is followed by `bin’ or ‘binti’ Abdullah. This should not be the case because they are actually being denied justice and their right besides affecting what had been upheld by Islam, that is nasab (descendants).

Citing an example, he said if someone by the name of Sami son of Raju were to convert to Islam, he should retain his name as Sami bin Raju and not Sami bin Abdullah.

“Changing to ‘bin Abdullah’ is awkward and did not happen in the history of Islam. During the time of the Prophet, those converting to Islam did not change their father’s name or surname and other matters pertaining to their descendants.

“As such, the Perlis Fatwa Council unanimously agrees with the decision not to allow them to change their father’s name or surname when converting to Islam,” he told reporters after chairing the discussion on the matter with 13 members of the Perlis Fatwa Council.

Dr Asri said changing the original name and using the ‘bin’ or ‘binti’ Abdullah upon converting to Islam was merely a tradition and not compelled by Islam.

He said the fatwa, enforced in Perlis, would be brought up for discussion at the Islamic Religious Council and the National Fatwa Council for a decision.