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Can you really call someone Ramadan?

Do you know anyone called Ramadan?

Ramadan, Ramzan or Ramazan is a boys’ name as well as the name for the special ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar. As we’ll see, depending on your views, it may be a great name or a poor choice.

Let’s start with its meaning. This is tied directly to the religious significance of the month of Ramadan: an opportunity to purify oneself through prayer, fasting and charity and thereby draw closer to the Creator, and the celebration of the first Quranic revelations that took place during Ramadan on the night Laylat-ul Qadr. Because the month is so highly cherished it is an understandable choice for a name, especially for a boy born during Ramadan. After all, in English, people choose April, May, or June for girls and the popularity of August as a name is on the rise for boys - including royal babies.

We can dig a bit deeper, and look at the meaning behind the name of the month. The Arabic word رمض (‘ramadh’) means ‘parchedness’ or ‘scorchedness’. Scholars suggest that the month was called this because the first official ‘Ramadan’, the ninth month after the hijra, which would have been around June 623 AD, was burning hot. Others say that the month Ramadan burns up the sins of the righteous as all prayers and good deeds performed in the month bring greater rewards, cancelling out transgressions.

Pronunciation of the word Ramadan can be a bit of a sticky issue, which can affect its choice as a boy’s name, depending on how accurate you want to be. The Arabic root is three letters: ر (ra) r-sound, م (meem) m-sound, and ض (dhadh), which does not have an equivalent in English, its sound is between d and th. It is most often written as a ‘d’. However the letter ض in Persian, Turkish and other languages is pronounced ‘z’. If you are happy to spell the name ‘Ramadan’ and have the d pronounced like a normal English ‘d’, you’re good. Or you could opt for the ‘z’ version for the spelling instead, which would create no problems for pronunciation in English.

Finally, a contentious note: should Ramadan be a name at all? Many Muslim sources, from Sunni, Shia and Zaydi schools, have stated that Ramadan is a name for the Almighty. As such, for many Muslims, Ramadan is not appropriate for a human name.

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