Saudi Arabia has declared a list of 50 baby names illegal, including those that are “foreign,” related to royalty, or are otherwise considered blasphemous.
Banned baby names include Western names like Linda, Elaine, Alice, and Sandy, as well as names that have to do with royalty or those that are thought to be anti-Islam, Gulf News reports. The names are said to “contradict culture and religion,” according to Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry.
The royal names include Sumuw (highness), Malek (king) and Malika (Queen).
The name Abdul Nabi (Slave of the Prophet) made the list because of the controversial way it can be interpreted. "Abdul" in Arabic means “worshipper of” or “slave of”, while Nabi means “prophet” and Rasool means “messenger.” When the names are combined with Abdul, some argue that they go against Islam because only God can be worshipped. Most Muslim names with Abdul contain one of the 99 Arabic names for “God."
Gulf News reports that some of the names are quite common, including Malak (angel), Amir (prince), Abdul Naser and Jibreel (the Arabic version of Gabriel).
And some of the banned names defy categories, leaving room for speculation. Abdul Naser and Binyamin (the Arabic version of Benjamin) are not particularly incendiary, Gulf News reports. But Binyamin, the son of the Prophet Jacob in Islamic religion, is also the name of the Israeli Prime Minister, while Abdul Naser was the ruler of Egypt who clashed with Saudi Arabia.
Name bans exist elsewhere in the world, such as in Norway, where the government keeps an approved list of monikers for couples to choose from, and Germany, where the name “Hitler” is illegal. In a recent controversial baby-naming case in the United States, a Tennessee judge was fired for ordering a couple to change their son’s name from “Messiah” to “Martin.”
Nabiyya (female prophet)
Al Mamlaka (the kingdom)
Basmala (utterance of the name of God)
Rama (Hindu god)
Binyamin (Arabic for Benjamin)
Jibreel (angel Gabriel)