One of the first initiative of Rasouloullah Swalallahou `Alaihi Wasallam`s on meeting someone is to ask the name of that person. And then he would change the name if the name was not appropriate.
It is because a name has an influence on a person and the environment he is being called.
The beloved prophet SAW disliked to name someone a name that has bad meaning, a meaning too rich or simply not sound muslim. Some names that had good meanings were initially prevented to avoid the wrong effect that when the person of a name with high meaning be called and then it is said: ‘‘No, he is not here.’’(Muslim Shareef)
وَلَا تُسَمِّيَنَّ غُلَامَكَ يَسَارًا وَلَا رَبَاحًا وَلَا نَجِيحًا وَلَا أَفْلَحَ فَإِنَّكَ تَقُولُ أَثَمَّ هُوَ فَلَا يَكُونُ فَيَقُولُ لَا مُسْلِمٍ
The science of naming is first that it should not be challenging to Allah Ta`ala attributes and also not having praises sounded directly from hearing the name. That is why some ulamas dislike naming children the name of angels. Akbar and such names sound challenging in OUR CONTEXT and hence should be avoided. Annas depending on its sounding in an English prevailing society. Tawheen means disgrace and should be changed. Wallahu a`lam.
We learn also that the context of that the society concerned is also taken into account. Note that `Ali which means ‘’above the lot’’ is a well known name and yet was not changed by the beloved prophet SAW. That is why in an English context, some Arabic names that sound close to a vulgar word should not be kept. So ask your ulamas in your region as per this aspect.
We advise the muslim ummah to leave the quest of looking for ‘modern’ rare names on the net. Bacause we have enough of beautiful muslim names and it is important to name our child a name that sound instantly without thoughts that the child is a muslim. In such quest I met with children named Zina(Adultery)!
It is unislamic and a fatality to creed to name your child such a name that share religions. But if named without such intentions, then it is permissible to have such names like Sarah, Adam, etc.
It is not islamic to keep non muslim names although they don’t have bad meanings. It is permissible to change name as Sahabah used to have titles to their names added or changed to the title. Hazrat Umar r.a. was called Abu Hafs before he became Ameerul Mu-mineen. This brings an elasticity to naming or changing name. So if officially, a wife select to have the surname of the husband, then this is completely permissible and Islamic. A sahabiyah was called by wife of so and so. This is completely tolerant as per naming is concerned.
Finally choose the best names for our children: Names of prophets, Abdullah, Abdur Rahman, names of Sahabas and Sahabiyahs r.a. IMPORTANT TO CHOOSE THOSE NAMES THAT WILL BE WELL PRONOUNCED IN OUR CONTEXT.
Final note, rather choose those names that are commonly used by past muslim ummah that have good meaning. Verify them in front of well active mufti of your area. Else you may click on the following link for beautiful names: http://islam-qna.org/Articles.asp?QID=249&LN=EN.
This article aims only to improve our naming closer to sunnah. May Allah Ta`ala save us all from futile discussions. Ameen.