Leila, Layla

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Arabic לילה‎ ليلى
Meaning: “night.”
(LAY-la)

The name is derived from the Arabic and has a variety of different meanings depending on its spelling, the most popular etymology is that it is from a Semitic root, l-y-l, meaning, “night” and shares the same etymology as the name Lilith.

The name has always been popular in the Middle East and is found in the 7th-century romantic poem, Qays & Layla also known as Layla & Majnun (written by Persian poet, Nizami Ganjavi). The legend trickled down to throughout the Middle East, Near East, Central Asia and South Eastern Europe, making the name a long time classic in all those regions.

It was introduced into the English-speaking world via Lord Byron in which the name appears in two of his works, The Gaiour (1813) and Don Juan (1819). It was further popularized in the 1970s when the name was the subject of two songs, one being the famous Eric Clapton song and the other being “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos.

Her Bosnian form of Lejla is the 7th most popular female name in Bosnia & Herzegovina, (2010). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 3 (Leyla, Azerbaijan, 2010)
  • # 36 (Layla, Australia, 2010)
  • # 37 (Layla, United States, 2010)
  • # 44 (Layla, England/Wales, 2010)
  • # 50 (Layla, Ireland, 2010)
  • # 50 (Layla, Scotland, 2010)
  • # 71 (Leila, Hungary, 2010)
  • # 76 (Layla, Canada, BC, 2010)
  • # 95 (Laila, England/Wales, 2010)
  • # 138 (Laila, United States, 2010)
  • # 143 (Leila, France, 2009)
  • # 204 (Leila, United States, 2010)
  • # 304 (Layla, Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 478 (Laila, Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 747 (Leyla, United States, 2010)

The name is also common in Iran, Israel, the Balkans and in the Turkic world.

In the Middle East, the name was popularized by a 7th-century poet by the name of Qays, whose lady love was named Layla. His story became a popular Medieval Arabic romance.

Other forms of the name include:

  • Lejla Лейла (Albanian/Bosnian/Dagestani/Kazakh/Maltese/Tatar)
  • Laïla (Algerian/Moroccan/Tunisian)
  • Leïla (Algerian/Moroccan/Tunisian)
  • Leyli Լեյլի (Armenian)
  • Leyla (Azeri/English/Kurdish/Turkish)
  • Lajla Лайла (Chechen)
  • Leila ლეილა (Circassian/English/Ethiopian/French/Georgian/Hungarian)
  • Laila (Dutch/English/Estonian/Finnish/Hindi/German/Latvian/Scandinavian/Urdu)
  • Layla (English/Italian/Uzbek)
  • Lejli Лейли (Kazakh)
  • Ljajlim Ляйлим (Kazakh)
Laila can also be a Sami form of Helga.

Iman

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Arabic  إيمان Иман
Meaning: “faith.”
(ee-MAHN)

The name comes directly from the Arabic word for faith.

The name is used throughout the Islamic world and as of 2010, it was the 30th most popular female name in Bosnia & Herzegovina, (2010).

Its North African form of Imane is currently the 80th most popular female name in Belgium, (2009), the 163rd most popular in France, (2009) and the 411th most popular in the Netherlands, (2010).

Iman was brought to attention in the Western World by Somali-born model, Iman (b.1955)

The name is also borne by two Jordanian princesses and Persian Princess Iman Pahlavi, daughter of Reza Pahlavi, the deposed Crown Prince of Iran.

Other forms include:

  • Imane (Algerian/Moroccan/Tunisian)
  • İman (Azeri/Turkish)
  • Îmân (Kurdish)
  • Imaan (Somali)
  • Imani (Swahili) 

Amin

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Arabic أمين
Meaning: “truthful.”
(AH-MEEN)

The name comes directly from the Arabic word امين (amin) meaning, “truthful.”

al-Amin was an epithet for the Prophet Mohammed and it was also borne by the sixth Abbasid Caliph.

As of 2010, Amin was the 76th most popular male name in Bosnia & Herzegovina, while in Belgium, his franconized form of Amine was the 93rd most popular male name, (2009). He is the 209th most popular male name in the Netherlands, (2010).

The name is prevalent throughout the Islamic world.

The feminine form is of course, Amina.

Ansar

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Arabic
Meaning: “helpers.”
(AHN-SAHR)

The name is derived from the Arabic plural and Islamic term, al-Ansar (the helpers), which refers to a group of Medinian citizens who helped the Prophet Mohammed settle into the city of Medina.

Its Balkan and Turkish form of Ensar is currently the 33rd most popular male name in Bosnia & Herzegovina, (2010).

The name is used throughout the Islamic world.

Bilal

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Arabic بلال
Meaning: “moistening.”
(bee-LAHL)

The name is derived from the Arabic meaning, “moistening.”

It was borne by the first Muezzin (Caller to Prayer) and a disciple of the Prophet Mohammed. He was an Ethiopian slave who had been emancipated by Mohammed.

As of 2010, Bilal was the 37th most popular male name in Bosnia & Herzegovina. His rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 90 (Catalonia, 2010)
  • # 147 (France, 2009)
  • # 217 (Netherlands, 2010)

The name is used throughout the Islamic world.

Another notable bearer was Bilal Xhaferri (1935–1986), an Albanian poet, novelist and political dissident against the Albanian communist regime.

Hasan

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Arabic  حسن 
Meaning: “the handsome; the good.”

The name is derived from the Arabic noun plus definite article الحسن (al-Ḥasan) literally meaning, “the good, the handsome, the beautiful.”

The name was borne by one of the beloved grandsons of the Prophet Mohammed and the son of Ali.

According to Shia and Sunni sources the Archangel Gabriel commanded the Propheth Mohammed to name his grandson, Hasan, a pre-Islamic name. Hasan eventually went on to succeed his father as the Caliph and eventually retired to Madinah where he was poisoned by one of his wives, (the identity of whom is somewhat debated). He is considered a martyr by both Sunni and Shi’a Muslims.

It was the 24th most popular male name in Turkey, (2010) and the 94th most popular in Bosnia & Herzegovina, (2010).

The name is sometimes transliterated as Hassan, especially in the former French colonies, however, this transliteration is actually incorrect as when an extra S is added, the meaning of the name changes, being from the Arabic  حسّان Hassan meaning, “doer of good.”

Other forms of the name include:

  • Hasan Хасан (Albanian/Arabic/Baskkir/Bosnian/Chechen/Dagestani/Kazakh/Kyrgyz/Ossetian/Persian/Tajik/Tatar/Turkmen/Turkish/Ughur/Urdu/Uzbek)
  • Hassan حسن مجتبی (Algerian/Javanese/Malaysian/Moroccan/Persian/Tunisian)
  • Həsən (Azeri)
  • Gasan (Dagastani)
  • Hesan (Kurdish)
  • Alassane (Sub-Saharan African)
  • Lassana (Sub-Saharan African)
  • Hesen (Zazaki)

Islam

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Arabic
Meaning: “voluntary submission to God.”
(IS-lahm)

The name comes from the Arabic verbal noun meaning, “obedience, subjugation of someone or something, or the voluntary submissal to the Almighty.”

The name is technically unisex, but is more often used for males throughout the Islamic world.

As of 2010, Islam was the 14th most popular male name in Kazakhstan, (2010).

It is borne by the current president of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov (b.1938).

Amir

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Arabic أمير Амир
Meaning: “prince; commander”
(uh-MEER)
The name is derived from the Arabic word for a prince, ruler, commander or admiral. In the Islamic world, it is used as an honorific title of nobility, office or someone of high eminence. The word itself is derived from the Arabic root amr meaning, “to command.”
The early Islamic caliphs used the title Amir al-Muninin meaning, “Commander of the Faithful”, a reference of their leadership over the adherants of the Islamic faith.
The title was assumed by other Islamic rulers, including sheiks and sultans throughout Central Asia all the way into Saudi Arabic.
The leader of a group of pilgrims to Mecca is often referred to as an amir.
It is used as a given name throughout the Islamic world.
As of 2010, Amir was the 20th most popular male name in Kazakhstan, (2010). His rankings in other other countries are as follows:
  • # 13 (Emir, Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2010)
  • # 28 (Emir, Turkey, 2010)
  • # 66 (Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2010)
  • # 155 (the Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 221 (France, 2009)
  • # 278 (United States, 2010)
Other forms of the name include:
  • Emir (Albanian/Bosnian/Turkish)
  • Əmir (Azeri)
  • Amirs (Latvian)
Feminine forms include, Emira (Albanian/Bosnian/Turkish) and Amira.
Amir can also be a Hebrew male אָמִיר name meaning, “tree top.”

Fatima

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Arabic فاطمة
Meaning: “to abstain.”
Sp (FAH-tee-mah); Arab (FAH-TEE-MAH)

The name comes Arabic meaning “to abstain.”

It is an extremely popular name throughout the Islamic world, and is especially popular among Shia Muslims. It was borne by the daughter of the Prophet Mohammed, who was also known as Fatima Zahra (Fatima the Illustrious).

Among Muslims, she is revered as an exemplar among women.

The name is also used among Portuguese and Spanish-speaking Christians in reference to a shrine in Portugal in which the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared. The name shares the same etymology as the town was named for a Moorish princess who converted to Christianity and was subsequently persecuted by her family.

Currently, its Turkic form of Fatma is the 3rd most popular female name in Azerbaijan, (2010). Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 1 (Fatemah, Iran, 2007)
  • # 1 (Morocco, 2007)
  • # 1 (Pakistan)
  • # 1 (United Arab Emirates)
  • # 8 (Libya
  • # 13 (Fatma, Turkey, 2010)
  • # 38 (Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2010)
  • # 71 (Catalonia, 2010)
  • # 87 (Spain, 2010)
  • # 92 (Belgium, 2009)
  • # 211 (Netherlands, 2010)
  • # 255 (France, 2009)
  • # 270 (United States, 2010)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Fatima (Albanian/Arabic/Assyrian/Bosnian/Chechen/Chuvash/Cypriot/Egyptian/Indian/Kazakh/Kyrgyz/Lebanese/Moroccan/Pashtun/Syrian/Tajik/Tatar/Urdu/Uzbek)
  • Fatma (Algerian/Azeri/Moroccan/Senegalese/Tanzanian/Turkish/Zazaki)
  • Fadime (Azeri/Kurdish/Tunisian/Turkish)
  • Fatimə (Azeri)
  • Faḍma (Berber/Kabyle)
  • Fadumo (Ethiopian)
  • Fatimah (Indonesian/Javanese/Malaysian/Swahili)
  • Fatemah فاطمه (Persian)
  • Fátima (Portuguese/Spanish)
  • Faduma (Somali)
  • Fátímọ̀ (Yoruban)
  • Fatıma (Zazaki)

Hussein

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Arabic حسين
(hoos-SANE)

The name was initially a diminutive form of Hasan حسن, which is derived from the Arabic, hasuna حسن (beautiful; good). The name has been used as an independent given name for centuries, usually used in honour of Hussein ibn Ali (626-680 CE), the son of the caliph Ali and the grandson of the prophet Mohammed.

He is considered a martyr among Shi’ia Muslims.

In recent years the name was borne by the King of Jordan (1935-1999) and it is the middle name of current President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Its Turkish form of Hüseyin is currently the 400th most popular male name in Germany, (2011).

Other forms of the name include:

  • Huseyn (Azeri)
  • Husein (Bosnian)
  • Husain (Indonesian)
  • Hossain حسّین (Persian)
  • hysejin Һүсейiн (Kazakh)
  • Hüseyin (Turkish) 
  • Usên (Zazaki)