By Sophie Kihm
But by no means are Arabic names only reserved for people with this heritage. Many of us feel comfortable giving our children French names (even though we’re not French), English names (even though we’re not English), and Hebrew names (even though we’re not Jewish). The same should hold true with Arabic names.
There are plenty of beautiful, accessible options, so open your mind, and get ready to fall in love with some Arabic names!
Amina– Amina is quite fashionable on the other side of the globe. She’s the top name for girls in Bosnia (a country in which she also has roots), and in the Top 200 in Belgium, France, England, and Wales. Amina is a gorgeous, very feminine choice. She would work well for someone of any background.
Aziza– Speaking of gorgeous names, Aziza actually means “gorgeous” in many African languages. As an Arabic name, she is considered to mean “precious.” Aziza is spunkier than the similar Aviva, although both have the added bonus of being palindromes.
Fatima– Fatima is one of the most familiar Arabic names, yet she was given to only 1000 American baby girls last year. She’s an important name in Muslim culture, as Fatimah is the name of Muhammad’s youngest daughter. That being said, even though America and England have roughly the same Muslim population, Fatima is much more favored on the other side of the pond.
Hadiya– Long time readers of my blog know that Hadiya is a favorite of mine. Hadiya is a sweet, softer Arabic choice. She’d fit in well with the stylish, multicultural names of today. The Hadiya are an Ethiopian group, which at one time controlled the Hadiya Kingdom.
Nazia- Nazia is a Pakistani, Arabic, and Indian name, most common among Muslims. Nazia Iqbal and Nazia Hassan are two famous bearers of the name, both Pakistani pop singers. She’d certainly be an unusual choice in America, but she’s similar enough to Nadia that it wouldn’t be a hard assimilation.
Noor– With names like Nora and Eleanor being so trendy, I’m surprised that Americans haven’t embraced Noor. She has roots in Dutch and Arabic, and is extremely trendy in both cultures. Noor is also the name of a city in Iran, and is commonly associated with Queen Noor of Jordan–born Lisa.
Senna– Senna is a rare double-nature name. She’s the name of a tropical flower, and a breed of butterfly. Both the plant and the insect are yellow in color, so it’s fitting that Senna means “brightness.” Unfortunately, Senna is also the name of a minor Twilight character–but hopefully we’ve all gotten over that by now.
Zaynab– Like Senna, Zaynab is also a botanical name, but one of a tree. Zaynab is the original spelling that is featured in the Quran, but variant Zainab is currently more prevalent in the United States. Her Turkish form, Zeynep, is the most popular girls name in Turkey.
Aza– Attracted to Asa’s sweet simplicity, but not his softness? Aza offers a zesty alternative, with the perfect amount of tenderness. As we head into an age of strong yet succinct names, Aza could be an intriguing possibility.
Bilal– Bilal is an ancient Arabic name most popular among Muslims. He’s most common in Turkey and Bosnia, but is periodically used in the United States. In fact, you might recognize Bilal as the name of the mononymous American musician, whose father was Muslim.
Eyad– Eyad is a more modern Arabic name, so his roots are not in the Quran. Being that he’s relatively new, Eyad doesn’t have the storied history of many Arabic names, but he does appear to mean “powerful man.”
Faris– Faris has both Scottish and Arabic origins, and with each is a slightly different pronunciation. The Scottish form rhymes with Ferris, while the first syllable of the Arabic variation rhymes with car. Faris is another name that’s quite fashionable in Bosnia–over there he ranks Number 21.
Idris– There’s only one person you think of when you hear the name Idris, and that’s Idris Elba. His father was born in Sierra Leone, in which there is a significant Muslim population, though it’s unknown whether his father practiced Islam or not. Elba was actually born Idrissa, but dropped the last two letters in his young adulthood. The name Idris also has Welsh roots, and is the name of a medieval king.
Osman– Osman is of Turkish and Arabic descent, best known as the name of the creator of the Ottoman Empire. Osman I’s nickname was Kara–which means “black” in Arabic. Nowadays Oz or Ozzie would be a more logical choice. Osman is an anagram of Mason, which could make for a fun novelty sibset.
Samir– Samir has one of the best meanings I’ve ever encountered–“a friend to talk with in the evening.” Only 309 children were given the name last year–surprising for a name that’s so easy to like! Samir is straightforward in spelling and pronunciation, plus he has the handy nickname Sam.
Taj– Taj is a Sanskrit and Arabic name, instantly recognizable thanks to India’s Taj Mahal. For a name of such magnificent imagery, he still remains practically unheard of in the United States–only 142 boys were given the name last year. However, Taj squeezed his way into the top 1000 in both 1976 and 1998, at Number 990 and Number 956, respectively. Stephen Tyler has a son named Taj.