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Names do not denote religion

Reader comment on item: Was Barack Obama a Muslim?

Submitted by tonygator (Canada), May 13, 2008 at 08:58

I disagree with your statement that. "... all children born with an Arabic name based on the H-S-N trilateral root (Hussein, Hassan, and others) can be assumed to be Muslim" These names are not muslim, they're Arabic. There are christians, jews, and muslims from Arabic speaking countries that share these names. Hence, for example, Israel Hassan, soccer players Kobi Hassan and Manor Hassan, etc. Hassan, Hasson, Hazan, Hasan, etc. all fall into your "trilateral root," but just derive from the meaning "good".

Christians and jews from Arab countries share these names with their muslim Arab neighbors. Obama does have ancestors who were muslim on his father's side, but his parents' choice of names was based on family traditions, not as a declaration of faith.


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Daniel Pipes replies:

All the examples you gave of "Hassan" are family names. Families can convert and take the Hassan name with them. I stand by the contention that only Muslim babies are given a name with the trilateral root H-S-N.

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