Introduction to Names
Collected from the Encyclopaedia of Islam
by Basil Dragonstrike
The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition (hereafter EI2) is
widely considered one of the leading scholarly works on the subject
of Islam; it covers the whole of Islam; religion, geography,
culture, etc. Published in 13 volumes, from 1954 to 2005, it
contains thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of entries.
Obviously, it is a rich source of Muslim names; indeed, too rich a
source. Anyone trying to collect all the names from EI2 would have
an overwhelming task.
Tempted to collect names from EI2, but well aware of the size of the
job, I decided to collect some of the names. How to choose?
Simple, use the "random" function in a spreadsheet. How many to
choose? Ten from each volume seemed like a reasonable number to me,
especially as I'd only be taking from volumes 1-12; volume 13
contains only indexes and a glossary.
I decided I had to make sure the random selections fit certain
requirements. These are:
EI2 "alphabetizes" its entries. That is, each person is listed by
the part of his or her name he/she is best known by. Thus, a person
may be listed by his/her ism, kunya, nasab, or byname; in the case
of nasab or byname, he/she may be listed by one out of a number of
nasabs/bynames. The rest of that person's names are set off by
commas. This makes it difficult for me to be sure what the original
name's proper order should be. Hence, I have made no attempt to list
the name-element patterns found in this source. As well, I have not
distinguished between isms per se and those from kunyas,
etc., nor bynames per se and those found within nasabs, etc.
- The name must be that of a person; no non-human beings, no
place, no concepts, no group/tribe of people, etc.
- The name must seem wholly Arabic; I didn't want Persian,
Turkish, etc names. Of course, given the realities of onomastics
in Islamdom, some Persian, Arabized Persian, Turkish, Arabized
Turkish, etc. names may be on these lists. But I avoided
anything that I could clearly see was not Arabic.
- The person named must have lived before 1601---that is, before
the 17th century. I didn't wish to make use of SCA's "gray
Note that EI2 does not use the LoC/ALA romanization scheme, which is
the one most often used, esp. in the SCA, and is the one used in my
other lists of names. The differences between EI2 and LoC/ALA are
few and easily explained.
I have arranged the collected names into three lists: isms,
Information on matters specific to each type of name will be found
at the head of each page.
- EI2 romanizes jīm (ج) as dj, LoC/ALA as j.
- EI2 romanizes qāf (ق) as ḳ, LoC/ALA as q.
- Where a single letter in Arabic is romanized in two Latin
letters, EI2 underlines the pair and LoC/ALA does not. Note this
means that in EI2 jīm (ج) actually becomes dj. In
those rare cases where tāʼ, dāl, sīn, or
kāf is followed by hāʼ, ambiguity with thāʼ,
dhāl, shīn, and khāʼ is prevented in EI2
by not underlining the pair, but in LoC/ALA by inserting a true
vertical apostrophe. For example, in the name "اَدْهَم",
pronounced "add ham", in EI2 is Adham but in LoC/ALA Ad'ham.
FURTHER NOTE: Since these pages were first written, I have
learned more about Arabic onomastics. Thus, a few changes have been
I have changed the lists to reflect all this; what is posted
currently are the corrected lists.
- Some names beginning with al- that I thought were
bynames have turned out to be isms. I have moved them to
the proper list.
- The Abbasid and Fatimid caliphs used "throne names," all of
which start with al-. As such "names" are actually
titles, I have removed all of them from these lists.
- Abū Bakr was not, in fact, used as an ism. Kunyas
were (depending on time and place) sometimes given to children,
and/or used by adults who had no child. Abū Bakr is
itself a metaphorical kunya (meaning "Father of a camel
foal"). It was sometimes used by children and childless adults;
as such persons did not have an eldest son named Bakr, I
have removed all references to Abū Bakr from these
- There may be other, minor errors I've corrected.