Arabic Names and Arab Names
Structure of the Arabic Name
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The main name of an Arab person is the ism, his or her personal name (e.g. "Kareem" or "Fatima"). Most Arabic names are originally Arabic words with a meaning, usually signalling the good character of the person. Karīm means "generous", maħmūd means "praiseworthy", and both words are employed as adjectives and nouns in regular language. Arab newspapers sometimes try to avoid confusion by placing names in brackets or between quotation marks. Generally, context and grammar will indicate how the word is being used, but foreign students of Arabic may initially have trouble with this.
* Muslim practices
A very common form for Muslim Arab names is the combination of `abd followed by another word: `abd X means "servant of X" where X is a word describing Allah (God), often one of the Muslim 99 Names of God. The result is a name such as عبد الله Abdullah ("Servant of God").
* Christian Practices
To an extent, most Christian Arabs have names that are indistinguishable from those of their Muslim neighbors, but Christian Arabs rarely or never use specifically Muslim names such as Mohammed. There are also Arabic versions of Christian names (e.g. saints' names), and names of Greek, Armenian, or Assyrian / Aramaic origin. Adoption of European names, especially French and Greek ones (to the lesser extent, Spanish ones, in Morocco), has been a centuries-long convention for Arab Christians — especially (but not only) in the Levant. Thus, George Habash, Charles Helou, Camille Chamoun, Boutros Boutros-Ghali etc. Other examples of exclusively names of Arab Christians are in honor of Jesus Christ, like Abdul Yasu (servant of Jesus; the feminine form, Amat Yasu), Abdul (Amat) Masih (servant of the Messiah), Maryam umm Yasu (Mary, mother of Jesus), Yousef abu Yasu (Joseph, father of Jesus), Yasu ibn Maryam (Jesus, son of Mary), Yasu ibn Yusef (Jesus, son of Joseph), and Yasu Ullah (Jesus belongs to God). The name "Abdullah", meaning simply "servant of God," is also used by Christians.
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