A yakman by any other name...
Even wise men have been unable to answer this age old mystery. What say you my friend? Would a yakman by any other name still smell as bad?
This is a useful list that explains a little about Arab name structure (and therefore the structure of names in the Islands), as well as a list of common names. First let us learn how these names are stuctured, this may seem confusing (to non-Arabs), however, there is a logical structure to the Arab naming convention that, once seen, makes it simple to decipher a person's recent ancestry.
"Al" means "the", "of the house of", or "of the tribe of". This prefix is often used to show the family name of an individual, though it can be used with a descriptive term. When used with a place name the suffix "i" is D&Ded to the place name.
"Bin" or "Ibn" means (as a prefix) simply the son of.
So for example:
A man's name is Ali bin Ahmed bin Saleh Al-Fulani.
He is called Ali by his friends and family.
His family name is Al-Fulani.
What does bin Ahmed bin Saleh mean? This simply means that he is the son of Ahmed who is in turn the son of Saleh.
So we have the man's given name, his father's name and his grandfather's name, plus the family name.
As a matter of fact, many Arabs can give their ancestors' names for at least five or six generations, and often many more.
"Bint" as a prefix means "the daughter of".
Our friend Ali (in the first example above) has a sister. Her name is Nura bint Ahmed bin Saleh Al-Fulani.
She is named Nura, the daughter of Ahmed who is the son of Saleh.
So we have her given name, her father's name, her grandfather's name and the family name.
It is interesting to note that when an Arab woman marries, she does not change her name. When the above mentioned Nura marries, her name remains exactly the same. Her children, however, take their father's name.
"Beni" (pronouced BEN-ee) means "the family".
"Abd" is a prefix meaning "slave of". In the land of fate it is used by mumluk's to show the organization to which they belong.
"Min means simply "from". Zakharan priests often use this prefix in connection with some sacred place of worship.
"Abu" means "the father of". This prefix is often followed by the name of the person's first male child.
"Umm" means "the mother of". This prefix is often followed by the name of the person's first female child.
"Sitt" means "lady". This rare prefix is only appropriately when used by powerful or highly respected women.