|The story behind Arab names
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Among the most common names for girls in Bahrain, derived from religious history, is Fatima (meaning “to abstain” in Arabic). Fatima was the daughter of Prophet Mohammed and the only one of his children to carry on his line. Fatima is also the name of a town in Portugal, which is an important Christian pilgrimage centre.
Other names are Zahra (meaning “blooming flower”), Zainab (“fragrant flowering plant”), Ruqaiya (derived from the Arabic ruqiy, meaning ascent) and Khadija (premature baby).
Popular names, also with a religious connotation for girls, include Eman (faith), Jinan (Paradise or garden) and Huda (right guidance).
The beauty of Arabic names is that they lend themselves quite easily to both masculine and feminine forms. This is achieved by adding the letter “a” at the end of male names. For instance, Ali’s feminine counterpart is Alia; Hussain’s is Husniya; Munir’s (bright or shining) is Munira.
However, there are names where this isn’t possible, like in the names: Bassam (smiling) where its female counterpart is Basma (smile); Saeed (happy) which becomes Suad for girls; Hani (happy) which turns to Haniya or even Hana (bliss or happiness) in the feminine and Anas (friendliness) which becomes Enas for girls.