Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
Names in the Islamic Republic of Iran
matter what we are called, we will always carry our original name. Many of us
accept and even like the name that our parents chose for us, but now others too
have to like it for us to carry it: the petty bureaucrats of the Notary Public
offices in Iran.
Based on [today] Iranian notary law, parents are not allowed to name their
children with names that are not on a list provided by the [the Islamic
Republic] Notary offices. But if anyone wishes to choose a name that is not on
the list, all is not lost. All he has to do is pass the buck. But even for a
name that is not on the list but has been “bought” by the parent, the Notary
officer can still refuse it on the basis of indecency, vulgarity or being
improper. Now go figure out.
Based on a public survey, names such as Ali, Mehdi and Mohammad for boys, and
Maryam, Zahra and Fatemeh for girls are amongst the most registered names during
the last 30 years (since the rise of Islamic regime to power). And despite the
trend to name infants with Persian names that predate Islam, religious names or
those of Muslim Imam's are still at the top of the list.
None of this is really big news. What is is that in addition to the “good”
list, there is also a “forbidden names” list. These are names that cannot be
registered. So you can go ahead and name your childe anything you like, but when
you appear before the Notary officer and wish to register the name of your new
comer, it would better not be on that “no” list. The reason cited is that
these names belong to sects that are banned by the governments or they are
associated with events or personalities that the government does not like (such
as many pre-Islamic Iranian names, such as Shariyar, Sharooz, etc).
Unlike other countries where a name change is possible through an administrative
legal-judicial process, changing a name in Iran can only be done by a special
body. And this group needs a good reason for the request. So, if you do not like
the name your parents have provided you, look away when others use it.
In addition to the bureaucratic hassles, there is also the inconsistency in how
the issue is approached by different Notary offices. One may allow a name, while
another reject it. Result: confusion and corruption. Do not forget: this list is
not published for the public. It simply exists for the officers while the
applicant can only apply, reapply, re-reapply etc.
A ray of light came when recently a list of permitted names was published on the
official website of the Iranian Embassy in Finland. But the candle blew out with
a blow. It was soon removed due controversies following the debates on its
contents and reasons.
The deputy legal administrator of the country's notary offices calms everyone by
saying that forbidden names are only those that violate the Islamic and Iranian
culture. He adds that the list is long and rejects names that carry certain
words in them such as “shah” (meaning king) or other historical figures. In
their eyes, it seems, history began with Islam and, so, names since its spread
that carry positive connotations for Islamic values, are fine.
Naming a child? Brush up on your history.
is the Light on the Path to Future"
British Institute of Persian Studies