Hi Duana,

I have had a name for a baby girl for years. It was the only name that I really loved, and I had it planned for a long time. Unfortunately, my sister in law has named her new born baby girl that. I am pissed and really upset, but there is nothing I can do, expect come up with a new name. I am hoping that you could suggest something. I am looking for a name that is Muslim but can also be considered English, like Sarah and Maria. The name I had chosen was Sophia, telling you so that it gives you an idea of what I am looking for. Other names that my husband and I like, and will end up going for if we can't come up with anything else are: Arya or Anya. I would really like to know your suggestions. While you are at it, I would also love to hear some suggestions for a boy's name. (Hopefully baby # 2) Thank you.


So, do you want the sympathy first, or the tough love?

Let’s go with the tough love, to get it out of the way. I don’t know if you told your sister-in-law that you wanted that name or not but…in case you haven’t noticed, there are a lot , lot, lot, lot of people who also like Sophia, and who have named their newborn baby girls that way. If you think it was stolen by your sister-in-law you also have to consider that it was stolen by hundreds of thousands of North American/European parents in tandem. So, while it sucks, I’m not sure it’s cause for a family feud, you know?

Having said that, the crossover between Muslim or Arabic names and English ones is a lovely place to live, where the names are accessible but not common. Longtime readers of this column know that Zara is a real favourite of mine in this vein. Totally accessible, totally unusual. No, she won’t be bothered that it’s a clothing store any more than your friend Angie is bothered by a bistro called ‘Angie’s’, you know?

Then there are the ‘A’ names. Aziza is far and away my favourite, but Aliya and Anissa would also be really accessible choices, as would anything in the Asha/Aisha family. 

Then, of course, there’s Farrah. I generally don’t let one bad apple spoil the whole name, but given that there’s only one famous Farrah in action right now and that she’s kind of repugnant, you may be turned off the name. I can totally understand why that would be. If so, other Muslim names that aren’t strictly English but are totally accessible include Nahla and Nyla, Yasmine, Samira, and anything concerning Laila or Lila.

Finally, you will never ever catch me arguing against Anya. I love love it and endorse it heartily. Arya, on the other hand, is becoming very, very popular, if that’s something that changes your mind.

Let me know how you make out—and we’ll meet again when it’s time for number two. 

Note: Please send your name emails, once only, to [email protected] - duplicates or those sent to Lainey ‘just in case’ will be deleted.