Arabic Names and Arab Names
Structure of the Arabic Name
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The nasab is a patronymic or series of patronymics. It indicates the person's heritage by the word ابن ibn (sometimes bin) which means "son", and bint, "daughter". Thus ابن خلدون Ibn Khaldun means "son of Khaldun" (Khaldun is the father's ism, or proper name). Several nasab can follow in a chain, to trace a person's ancestry backwards in time. This was important in the tribally based society of the ancient Arabs, both for purposes of identification and for social and political interaction. In modern Arabic, it's very common for people to omit the ibn or bint in normal conversation, just using the names themselves.
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