Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Changing Her Last Name After Marriage (In Islam)

This is a post I have been wanting to write for a long time. Now, that I don't have a job anymore, I finally have the time (one of the benefits of being unemployed).

"Your so cute. Can I have your last name?"

"I gave him my heart, and he gave me his last name."

"You are perfect. The only thing I need to change is your last name."

"I write down my first name with your last name to see how it will look like."

These are some of the cliche quotes most likely created by adolescents being spread over the internet and social media sites. 

It has become a form of flirting or being romantic. Telling someone you will give them your last name means you are going to marry them. Asking someone for their last name means you want to marry them. And to be realistic, how many of these teenagers actually do get married? Let us not digress from our subject though: Where do these ideas come from? Why do females think they should change their last name when they get married? Should they not still carry their own family name?

The reason that led me to writing this post is because I have seen numerous feminist posts about the matter. That women should not change their names after marriage. This was dealt with as something new, something that was not really done long ago but should be done now. In Islam, this is not something new. In Islam, women do not change their last name after marriage. Some say that Islam is a backwards religion, but it has dealt with this matter long before feminists chose to discuss it.

Let us take examples from both the West and the Islamic world:

In the West, a man's title and his last name remain the same whether he is single or married.Say we have Mr. Brown. After marriage, his name remains Mr. Brown.

Miss. White is unmarried. After marriage, she is Mrs. Brown.

How do we know they are a couple? 

Mr. and Mrs. Brown. They share the same last name.

In Arab culture, the couple are known to be married by the name of their first child (if their first child is not a boy, then the first boy, if they only have girls, they may be called by the name of the girl)

For example: Abu Mohammad (The father of Mohammad)  and Umm Mohammad (The mother of Mohammad)

Of course, this is informal (and is from the Arab culture rather than Islam itself) and is used between people and not in legal documents, but it is just taken as an example to show that Muslims do not usually change their last names.

In Saudi Arabia (yes, the place where women cannot drive), I first learned of this. There were two sisters working with me and they were both married. I thought they were married into the same family as they had the same last name. It turns out they weren't. I asked them why they still had the same last name if they were married into different families, should not each of them take the name of her husband? They told me that their last names were not changed after marriage. In Saudi Arabia, when you get married, there is no way you can change your last name. They asked me why should one change their last name as they are getting married into a family, but they weren't born into that family. 

Another colleague from Saudi told me that they don't change their last names, and this is something that some Arab and Islamic countries have acquired from the West.

In Islam, one of the reasons adultery is not permitted is because that might lead to incest. I'm not going to explain this in detail so as not to digress too far from the subject at hand, but to make a long story short: Long ago, there were no DNA tests, you could not make sure who was the father of the child. You would not be sure whose last name, this child was to carry. This child may then get married to his biological sister or the such. So in Islam, it is important for families not to get mixed together, for each person to know which family they come from.

In Islam, a woman does not take the last name of her husband.

Feminists give other reasons for not changing your last name such as : "How will your old friends find you on social media?" That reason is important as well...