Imam W. Deen Muhammad
QUESTION: Would you please explain the principle behind changing one's name, and is this necessary in becoming a true Muslim?
IMAM: No. To change the name is not necessary. This habit developed long after Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him).
But every Muslim should want a dignified name, a name that complements or is compatible with the human values of Muslims. So if I have a Christian name or a foreign name that is not compatible with that Muslim taste, then I would want to get rid of it.
I, myself, have gotten rid of my first name that my parents gave me. It was Wallace.
I didn't get rid of it because it was a distasteful name -- I think it's a nice name; it means a person from Wales in Europe. And because Wales was a community that didn't go out much, it also means a stranger.
I don't mind the name "stranger," it's okay with me. I see so many strange things, I would like to be strange to those strange things, you know.
But I changed it because I wanted to say something with my new name. I wanted to say that "we," not "me," but "we" have inherited guidance in Al-Islam.
QUESTION: Since becoming your follower, I've benefited greatly from all of your lectures. You once stated that in order to be effective world leaders, we must have a good knowledge of human nature. What essentially is human nature?
— Chicago, 111.
IMAM: Human nature is the progress of the emotional nature from emotional imbalance, emotional blindness and misplaced sentiments to the place where we can live with ourselves and live with others without having malice or being given to emotional rage.
I think human nature is that sobering nature in the emotional makeup of the human being that brings him to some kind of social stability and social sense of worth, making it possible for him to live a moral life, not only in his small confines, but live a moral life with other people -- that is, to universalize his moral sensitivities.