Question # 38: What does Islam say on naming your child based on ‘ilm-e-Adad’ (Knowledge of digits)? E.g. each Islamic alphabet has a number value. Someone told me that since the child’s name has a bearing on the personality traits, the name should be based on Ilm-e-adad. It can help suggest a name that would complement the development of positive traits. What does Islam say about this? Is it recommended, prohibited, encouraged, makrooh?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: Muslims should believe that everything is preordained by Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). It doesn’t befit a true Muslim to name his/her child motivated by baseless ideas such as ilm-e-Adad (Numerology) that has nothing to do with the truth. This practice is part and parcel of a fabricated system that propagates kufr and should be done away with entirely.

Long Answer: Numerology is any belief in divine, mystical (sufism) relationship between a number and one or more coinciding events. Numerology is, therefore, a branch of Astrology and fortune-telling. “Name numerology” is claimed to be a method to unveil the hidden information in our names. They claim that the birth name reveals the personal traits and characteristics unique to one when born. When one changes one’s name after marriage, they claim, he/she can have an idea of what his/her life will become. As for its methodology, the Abjad numerals are a decimal numeral system in which the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet are assigned numerical values. They have been used in the Arabic-speaking world since before the 8th century Arabic numerals. The word abjad is an acronym derived from the first four consonantal shapes in the Arabic alphabet — Alif, Bá, Jim, Dál.

As regards the belief that name numerology has power in realizing one’s wishes, traits, and characteristics or in determining one’s future plans or what his life will become, it’s a baseless idea; there is no room in Islam for such thing. There is no room in Islam for anyone predicting the future or revealing the unseen. As Muslims, we believe that only Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has the full and accurate knowledge of the future and the Unseen. It is forbidden for Muslims to consult future tellers, astronomers, or numerologists. We should not believe in their predictions. (Mufti Ibrahim Desai) The Qur’an says, “No soul knows what it will earn tomorrow…” (Soorah Luqman, 31:34) The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “Do not associate with the astrologers [as-hab an-nujum].” (Reported by Ahmad)

Those who practice astrology are in kufr because they claim knowledge of the future which is only known to Allah. By attributing to themselves some of Allah’s divine qualities of knowledge, they falsely offer those who believe in them an opportunity to avoid the harm that Allah has destined for them and to gain good that Allah has not destined for them. Astrology is classified as haram (forbidden) based on the hadith of lbn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) in which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “Whoever acquires knowledge of any branch of astrology, has acquired knowledge of a branch of magic. The more he increases in that knowledge, the more he increases in sin.” (Collected by Abu Dawud, Sunan Abi Dawud, and Ibn Majah) (‘The Fundamentals of Tawheed’ by Dr. Abu Aminah Bilal Philips)

The eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi says: “Numerology has no logical rules and does not represent scientific facts. We would like to ask who arranged the letters in that certain way known to numerologists. Why do we have to accept this way of arranging and reject others? Why do we have to give the alphabetical letters these specified numbers? All these questions need an answer that is based on scientific facts, not mere speculations and superstitions….”

On a similar note, the number 786 (used as a numerical value for ‘Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim’ by some ignorant Muslims) is nothing more than a number. When Allah or His messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) want to teach us something, they do so in the clearest way, far from puzzles and mystery numbers. All the efforts made by some Muslims to count letters and relate them to numbers are nothing but a waste of time. Sometimes they do so with good intention to show that our deen is great. Indeed our deen is great, and not in need of such erroneous approaches. ( Explaining the Qur’an via using this so-called numerology opens the door before further superstitions and turns these illuminating verses into mere words subject to any deviant or unreasonable thinking. May Allah shower His mercy on Khalifa Abu Bakr who said: “How can I feel rest or comfort if it happens that I explain the Qur’an using something which I know not?” (Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi)

Unfortunately, many Muslims, even today, believe that this is also part of Islam. Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The Salah (Prayer) of whoever approaches a fortuneteller and asks him about anything will not be accepted for 40 days and nights” (Muslim). Islam is the true religion of Allah. He perfected His religion in all aspects. No one can introduce any new thing in the religion. Our Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) has warned severely about importing innovations into Islam, for it has been perfected by Allah. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Every newly-invented thing is an innovation and every innovation is going astray, and every going astray is in the Fire.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.