Similar but Not The Same: How to Identify The Name of Arab Descendant and The Arabic Name of Javanese

Similar but Not The Same: How to Identify The Name of Arab Descendant and The Arabic Name of Javanese

How to cite: Aribowo, E. K., Hadi, S., & Ma’ruf, A. (2019). Similar but Not The Same: How to Identify The Name of Arab Descendant and The Arabic Name of Javanese. Arabi: Journal of Arabic Studies, 4(2), 115–126.


Eric Kunto Aribowo, Syamsul Hadi, Amir Ma’ruf

Humanities Science Program, Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia




Arabic names are not only used by Arab (descendants) but also by most Muslims in the world, including in Indonesia. This phenomenon will certainly be difficult when one wants to distinguish Arab (descendants) from non-Arabs who adopt Arabic or Islamic names. This study aimed to identify and explore the linguistic characteristics of the names of Arab descendants in Indonesia that distinguish them from the names of Muslim Javanese. By using population data samples in Pasar Kliwon Subdistrict taken from SIAK by Population and Civil Registration Agency Surakarta as of February 28, 2018, as many as 84,126 names were sorted and classified between Arab descendants and Muslim Javanese names using the onomastics framework. The results showed that the names of Arab descendants tended to use Arabic with the influence of the Yemeni dialect. The adoption of the name of the father and paternal grandfather also became another characteristic besides the presence of surname at the end of the proper name.

Keywords: anthroponym, Arabic name, Islamic name, onomastics, patronym



Nama Arab tidak hanya dipakai oleh orang-orang (keturunan) Arab namun juga dipakai oleh sebagian besar muslim di dunia termasuk di Indonesia. Fenomena ini tentunya akan menyulitkan ketika seseorang ingin membedakan orang-orang (keturunan) Arab dengan non-Arab yang mengadopsi nama Arab atau nama Islami. Penelitian ini bertujuan untuk mengidentifikasi dan memerikan ciri-ciri kebahasaan nama-nama keturunan Arab di Indonesia yang membedakannya dengan nama orang Jawa muslim. Dengan menggunakan sampel data penduduk di Kecamatan Pasar Kliwon yang diambil dari SIAK Disdukcapil Surakarta per 28 Februari 2018, sebanyak 84.126 nama dipilah dan diklasifikasikan antara nama keturunan Arab dengan nama orang Jawa muslim memanfaatkan kerangka onomastik. Hasil penelitian menunjukkan bahwa nama-nama keturunan Arab cenderung menggunakan bahasa Arab dengan pengaruh dialek Yaman. Pengadopsian nama ayah dan kakek paternal juga menjadi ciri khas lain di samping hadirnya nama fam di akhir nama diri.

Kata Kunci: antroponim, nama Arab, nama Islami, onomastik, patronim



For a long time, names have become one of the tools for identifying people. Through proper name, someone’s background can be known; the place of origin, the tribe, or the nation where a person originated, in what language he/she speaks, and other socio-cultural information such as traditions and daily customs. We can quickly identify that someone named YASUTOMO TAKANO is someone from Japan, like MARINA ABRAMOVIC from the Russian Federation, SUNDAR PICHAI from India, and MOHAMED SALAH GHALY from Egypt or the Arabian Peninsula.

By personal name, one’s religion can also be known. According to the onomastics framework, the study of personal name on Christians, for example, has a tradition of embedding baptismal names on their children (Libby & Frank, 2015). Hindus prefer to adopt the names of gods (Jayaraman, 2005), while many Muslims choose names derived from al-asmau l-husna (99 Names of Allah), prophets, caliphs, as well as families and companions of the prophet (Rahman, 2013; Widodo, 2014). From the selection of Arabic names, even someone can find out the background of the sect adopted, whether the Sunni or Shia sect. Names like ABDULHUSEIN, ABDULABAS, ABDULHASSAN, ABDILQASIM, and ABDULHAMZA are names that are only used by followers of the Shia sect. They also avoided using the names of Islamic caliphs except ALI: ABU BAKAR, UMAR, and USMAN as claims of their membership and loyalty to the Shia (Rasul, 2014).

In fact, the trend shows the grow of Islamic or Arabic names in the most Muslim countries in the world, Indonesia, even in urban or rural areas (Aribowo & Herawati, 2016a). Consequently, the personal name is no longer a means of identification between Arabs and people who embrace Islam. Although Ubaidillah (2011) reported there are cases of irregularities in the writing of Arabic names as a result of the transliteration and interference process, but recent research showed that today these errors begin to diminish. The names of Muslim Javanese who initially experienced many influences from the Javanese language or in the form of hybrid names, a combination of Arabic-Javanese names; at present, more and more numbers resemble purer Arabic names (Askuri & Kuipers, 2018). This condition is influenced by the increasing education and understanding of Islam. Therefore, when Arabic names are used as claims of Islamic religiosity, it is not an easy task to sort Arab descendants with non-Arabs who have Arabic names. Although some onomastic studies of the names of Arab descendants have been carried out, but have only succeeded in identifying surname, especially from the sayyid group, who still have blood relations with the Prophet Muhammad (Kafaabillah, 2018). A study of naming Arab descendants has also been carried out even though it has only explored the naming system traced based on the type of marriage of both parents; endogamous or exogamous marriage (Aribowo & Almasitoh, 2019). This paper is an intensive study which examined comparisons between Arabic names used by Arab descendants and Javanese. The purpose of this paper was to formulate the linguistic characteristics of Arabic descendants, which can be used as distinctive features with Arabic names from non-Arabs.



Different from previous studies that used population data by collecting Family Cards (Sahayu, 2014), listing names in newspapers (Suharyo, 2013), or through interviews (Bandana, 2015; Gunawan & Karsono, 2013) to get official names, this study utilized a database recorded at Population and Civil Registration Agency Surakarta City. This data can be considered as the most valid data regarding the official name used by the Indonesian population (Aribowo & Herawati, 2016a; Askuri & Kuipers, 2018). Apart from being reliable, data from SIAK (Sistem Informasi Administrasi Kependudukan) can also be considered as the big data that includes population data in an area (village, sub-district, district, or province) and contains detailed information about population demographics.


Figure 1 Research Steps (Aribowo, 2019)


The onomastic data in this study were collected from the proper name recorded in the Population Administration Information System (SIAK) database. This data is official data as recorded on the birth certificate, National Identity Card, Driving License, and other official residence identities in Indonesia. In other words, names that are downloaded from the SIAK database are full names that are used as self-identities, not nicknames. To get access to this data, the permission of Kesbangpol (National and Political Unity Agency), Bappeda (Regional Development Agency), Population and Civil Registration Agency Surakarta City was required (Figure 1). Because this data is considered sensitive data that contains a person’s personal information, the permission of the Mayor of Surakarta was required. After the research permitting process was completed, the population dataset with the data structure: No, Family Card Number, NIK, Full Name, Place of Birth, Date of Birth, Relationship Status with Family, Gender, Religion, Last Education, Full Name of Mother, Full Name of Father, Address, RT, RW, Village, Sub-district were downloaded from SIAK  through the Data and Statistics Section and stored in the XLS file format. Because the people of Arab descendant live in groups in the Pasar Kliwon Sub-district area (Kecamatan Pasar Kliwon, 2013), then only population data in the Pasar Kliwon Subdistrict area, Surakarta were downloaded. The onomastic dataset with 84,126 names was downloaded on February 28, 2018 from Net Consolidation Data for the first semester of 2017.

The next process was data cleaning by eliminating the names of Chinese descendants, especially in the Kedunglumbu village area. This elimination process was carried out by paying close attention to the names contained in the data, including the names of the parents based on their linguistic characteristics, consisting of three words and three syllables as formulated by Gunawan & Karsono (2013) and Suharyo (2013). In order to simplify the analysis process, coding was carried out, for example for surname with NF code, the name that adopts the father’s name with the NA code, and the ethnicity of parents (ARB for Arabs, JW for Javanese ethnic) by utilizing Microsoft Office Excel 2016. Name classification of Arabic descendants and Javanese based on the ethnicities of the parents who were also traced through the name guided by the naming system formulated by Wibowo (2001); Widodo, Yussof, and Dzakiria (2010); Aribowo and Herawati (2016); as well as Aribowo and Almasitoh (2019). Population are classified as Arab descendants when parents or one parent (both father and mother) are of Arab descendant. Finally, the names that have been classified are then contrasted with the name of the surrounding Muslim Javanese community in order to find the characteristics of the names of Arab descendants.


Result and Discussion

Choice of Arabic words with Yemeni dialect

Most societies of Arab descendant personal names are etymologically drawn from Arabic, even though hybrid names or names with combinations of other languages are found, such as Javanese for example in the name AGUS NAJIB FAHMI, from Hebrew such as DAVID ANWAR BIN MANSUR ABDAT, from Persian, for example FARHAD SALIM SUNGKAR. When reviewed by its frequency, these hybrid names are more common in Muslim Javanese society (Aribowo, 2015; Askuri & Kuipers, 2018) rather than Arab descendant. Although some Arabic descendants are found to be hybrid names, the composition ratio of Arabic names is greater than that of non-Arabic names. Most of hybrid names are a combination of words or names from other languages combined with Arabic words (see bold names). Unlike the Javanese hybrid names whose composition tends to be more Javanese dominated than Arabic, for example ANINDITA SYIFA NOFIANA and MUHAMMAD RENALDY BAGAS SAPUTRA. The hybrid names among Arab descendants are more common in families who do marriage with non-Arab ethnic (exogamous) than marriage in the same ethnic group (Aribowo & Almasitoh, 2019).

Specifically, for some consonants in the name, there are some differences in writing as a result of the influence of dialectical factors, for example, consonant /q/ > /g/ such as changes in QAMAR > GAMAR ‘moon’ in the name of GAMAR UMAR ABDAD and GAMAR SALIM ABUD. Dialectical differences in the writing of names are likely to be influenced by the Arabic language used in everyday conversation. As reported by Fauziah (2011) that Arabic spoken by Arab descendants in Pasar Kliwon Sub-district has a tendency to change phonological sounds. In addition to the most dominant changes, changes in voiceless uvular stop [q] with voiced velar stop [g] occur in almost all names such as NARGIS, GALIB, SEGAF, and GASIM; the gemination or known as the double consonant also has the tendency to change into a single consonant. Proof of this change has happened in the name NAWWAF > NAWAF and FAWWAZ > FAWAZ. Other changes occur in the form of vocal shortening as in the name HANAAN > HANAN, NUUR > NUR, and SAFIIR > SAFIR.

Arabic descendant names can not only be identified from the influence of the Yemeni dialect but also from the selection of words used as personal name. Arabic descendants still adopt many traditional names derived from objects related to the Arabian Peninsula such as city names, flora and fauna, celestial objects. Names such as MADINA ’Medina’, TUFFAH TAMIMAH ‘apple’, NAHLA ‘date tree’, NAMIR SUNGKAR ‘leopard’, FAIRUZ HAMAMAH ‘dove’, HILAL AL ​​AMUDI ‘crescent’ is found mostly in Arab descendant, but less familiar to the Muslim Javanese community. In fact, words that refer to the meaning of ‘lion’ usually appear in the verses of poetry and classical Arabic names (Dirbas, 2017) still used as a male name of Arab descendant. The names of ABBAS AZZAN ABDAD, AZZAM, BAGIR, HAIDAR ALI, HAMZAH BARAJA, HARIST MAHRUS MAHFUD, and USAMAH FARHAD BARAJA which mean ‘lion’ refer to physical attributes possessed, especially strength and wisdom. In contrast, Muslim Javanese names are more dominated by names from Islamic figures, for example MUHAMMAD WAHIB, AISYAH, YUSUF, and FATIMAH NUR HIDAYAH. In addition, even though Arabic names are increasingly prevalent, but when observed in more detail the meanings used are still using the Javanese cognition framework that uses the moment and birth order of the child as the basis for selecting names (Aribowo & Herawati, 2016a), for example AQILLA LAILITAFI ‘night’, ASHA HAWA ISNAINI ‘two/second’.


Several variations on writing names

Although most names of Arabic descendants are taken from Arabic, the names are written using a writing system that is generally valid in Indonesia with the writing system using Latin letters. There are no names containing elements such as numeric characters, apostrophes (`), or horizontal (-) lines. This writing model is slightly different from the common translation in Indonesia which adheres to the Latin-Arabic Transliteration guidelines based on the results of a joint decision of the Minister of Religion and Minister of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia written in the Joint Decree of the Minister of Religion and Minister of Education 158 of 1987 and No. 0543b/U/1987. For writing that adheres to this guideline, horizontal lines (-) are used to separate between an article with a word, especially in surname writing such as AL-JUFRI. However, in fact, surname is written ALJUFRI or AL JUFRI without the presence of a horizontal line between articles and words. In addition, a single quotation mark (‘) replaces the inverse apostrophe that represents the letter ‘ain (ع) the name such as SU’UD, JA’FAR, and MU’ADZ.


Table 1 Examples of Arabic names written with several transliteration variations

Consonant Variation Example
ث st Harist Mahrus Mahfud
ts Harits Jundullah Alkatiri
s Soraya Alkatiri
th Thurayah Umar Sungkar
t Turayah Ahmad Abdat
ح ch Churiyah
h Hoeriyah
خ kh Khadijah Mochammad Asegaf
h Hadijah Idrus Assegaf
ش sh Rashid Awab Abdat
sy Rosyid Ali Sungkar
s Rosid
ص sh Shaleh Muhammad Al Jufri
s Saleh Hasan Abdat
ض dh Nadhiroh Ibrahim
d Nadira Machmud Barbud
ط th Musthofa Ahmad Kamal
t Mustafa
ظ dh Nadhifa Amru
z Nizar
ف f Nofel Taufik
v Novel Abdullah Bahamadi

Source: Aribowo (2019)


Although there is no standard rule regarding writing proper name in Indonesia, the most common method is to simplify the writing of consonants that do not have the equivalent of the Latin script writing system, for example /kh/ ~ /h/, /dh/ ~ /d/, and /th/ ~ /t/ (Table 1). In writing personal names, there are also several variants, both in a consonant and vocal writing. The variation in consonant writing is largely due to differences in the consonant’s existing Arabic letters with Latin letters, for example /h/ which has two variants: /ch/ and /h/ as written in the names HOERIYAH and CHURIYAH in Table 1. By the diacritical system used in Arabic-Latin transliteration, for example ṡ, ḥ, ż, ṣ, ḍ, ṭ, and ẓ become one of the obstacles in inputting data and are avoided in order to anticipate the consequences of the problems faced in writing names in other important documents. Writing diacritics in Indonesia is not applied to personal name. The guidelines seem to only apply to documents, books, or Al-Qur’an that are still closely related to the Islamic context, in contrast to Turkey which adopts diacritics in the writing system, including writing names such as Ayşe, Hüseyin, Kübra, Büşra (Sakallı, 2016).

In contrast, Muslim Javanese names are often found asymmetric correspondence that occurs in consonants ك ~ /q/, ف ~ /fh/, and ض ~ /z/. In fact, it is customary that the consonants correspond to /k/, /f/, and /dh/. Some single consonants are also found to be transformed into double consonants or gemination, for example, NABILA becomes NABILLA, ANNISA becomes ANNISSA, and LATIFAH becomes LATIFFAH (Table 2). At least 33 Javanese people used the name NABILLA and 12 people used the name ANNISSA. The difference in correspondence is likely to be utilized by the Javanese as forming a distinguishing feature with names that have been widely used. This condition implies that the name giver, especially the parent, is mostly not a speaker or master Arabic well. Another proof is the name FAIRUZ ‘turquoise stone’ which is commonly used by Arab descendants for women’s names, used as the name of boys by Javanese people. If observed further in the sample data in Table 2, all owners of names were born after 2000, when access to information related to names can be easily found through print and electronic media.


Table 2 Examples of differences in writing Arabic names in Javanese

Changes Arabic Text Example Year of Birth
Asymmetric corespondence أكمل Aqmal Suwarno Saputra 2005
فيروز Fhairus Putra Pratama 2016
رمضان Hanif Ramazan Saputra 2015
Double consonant لطيفة Latiffah Aminoto Putri 2006
نبيلة Nabilla Arizka Putri 2006
النّساء Annissa Ayu Regina 2002

Source: Aribowo (2019)


In relation to the writing spelling of letters, some writing models such as /oe/ is spelled to /u/ as found in the name ABUD OEMAR GHURFIE, SOERAIJAH, and HOERIYAH. This writing model was found in people born before 1972 when the spelling formulated by Charles Adrian van Ophuijsen or known as the van Ophuijsen spelling was still valid in Indonesia before the Enhanced Indonesian Spelling System (EYD, Ejaan yang Disempurnakan) was used. Specific features of this spelling include letters /dj/ spelled to /j/, letters /sj/ become /sy/, /ch/ to /kh/, and letters /tj/ which are spelled as /c/ (Mijianti, 2018). There are 72 names owned by 85 people out of a total of 1,303 people born before 1972 and can be identified directly from the name writing system as listed in Table 3.


Table 3 Examples of Arabic names written in van Ophuijsen spelling

Spelling Equivalent Example Year of Birth
oe u Abud Oemar Ghurfie 1961
dj j Djamal Achmad Bazher 1956
sj sy Sjafiq Bahaswan 1960
ch kh Taufiq Solichin 1952
tj c Fatimah Al Tjikmas 1970

Source: Aribowo (2019)


Produced from several classes of Arabic words

Names in most languages in the world do not have a specific word class (Anderson, 2007). However, names in Arabic have special word class classified into “ism ‘alam” in the noun sub-class (Ryding, 2005) because most names come from the same root as other words in Arabic. In other words, even though from the morphological analysis of a word it follows a wazn or pattern of certain types of words, but if the word is used as a name it is classified into ism ‘alam (proper name). As is the case in many other cultures in the world, names are quoted from words with noun class (vom Bruck & Bodenhorn, 2006) for example AHLAM ‘dreams’ and adjective like SALIM ‘sincerity’. In addition to these two-word classes, names are also found which follow verbs, participles, nisba, diminutive, active participle, passive participle, hyperbolic participle, and superlative (Tabel 4).


Table 4 Examples of Arabic names based on morphological forms

Class General Pattern Example Meaning
Noun KVKVK Asad Khalid Sungkar ‘lion’
Adjective KAKIIK Salim Abud Abdat ‘sincere’
Verb KVKVKV Yazid Muhamad Sungkar ‘add’
Participle KVKVK Amal ‘hope’
Nisba KUKKIY Luthfi Khan ‘softness’
Diminutive KUKAIK Suhail Basalamah ‘convenience’
Active Participle KAAKIK Mahir Hasan Baraja ‘smart’
Passive Participle MAKKUUK Mabkhut Aziz ‘the lucky one’
Hyperbolic Participle K1VK2K2VK3 Fawwaz Kurniawan ‘victory’
Superlative AKKAK As’ad Sungkar ‘the happiest’

Source: Aribowo (2019)


The proper name formation in Arabic is morphologically very productive. Names are not only taken from the class of nouns and adjectives, but from various classes of other words. For example, from ÖLTF which means ‘soft’ can be produced by the name LUTHFI, LATIF, and LATIFAH. This is why many names are found with different forms, but referring to the same meaning referents, for example MUHAMMAD, AHMAD, HAMID, and MAHMUD which come from the same root word ÖHMD which means ‘praise’. The most productive name variations are produced from ÖHSN which means ‘good; commendable’ which forms the names HASAN, HUSAIN, HUSAINAH, HASANAH, MUHSIN, ICHSAN, MACHSUN. These name variations are cannot be found in Muslim Javanese names because most names are chosen from popular names that circulate widely in the community (Aribowo & Herawati, 2016b).


Suffix {-ah} or {-a} as feminine markers

Arabic has strict gender-related rules. In other words, each word must be classified into masculine or feminine because it is not known to be gender neutral in Arabic. Masculine and feminine differences are not only limited to living things such as humans, animals, and plants but also include inanimate or non-living things such as the moon, mountains, and the sea (Nur, 2012). Masculine and feminine dichotomy also applies to naming. Feminine names are used by women as masculine names are used by men. Thus, in the selection of names commonly adapted to the gender given the name.

Suffix {-ah} is a feminine marker that is often only pronounced and written with {-a} which is formed following the basic form in a masculine form, for example AMIR becomes AMIRA ‘king; queen’. In addition, feminine markers can also be known from the presence of markers {-ā} or what is often referred to as alif mamdudah, such as ANNISA ‘women’ and alif maqsurah for example NAJWA ‘secret whispers’ which in writing names are usually written with short vowels. However, there are also a small number of masculine names that are characterized by feminine markers such as USAMAH SOFYAN BASWEDAN and HAMZAH BARADJA which mean ‘lion’.



Table 5 Examples of male and female name pairs

Male Female
Ali Sajjad Aliyah Syahbal
Alwi Muksin Mulachela Alwiyah Tsania
Farid Ahmad Ba’asyir Faridah Umar Baabud
Husain Abdulhadi Badres Husainah Yahya
Latif Muhamad Sungkar Latifah Saleh Bawazier
Nabil Farid Alkatiri Nabila Abdurachman Baraja
Saleh Achmad Haidarah Sholichah Jafar Baraja
Syarif Ali Akbar Al-Mahdi Syarifa Aisyah Al Kaff
Zaki Mohammad Basalamah Zakiyah Faridilla Said Makarim
Zen Assegaf Zaenah Alatas

Source: Aribowo (2019)


Many names of Arab descendants are formed or adopted from male names by adding feminine suffixes as the names in Table 5. Thus, it can be said that the names of women are derived from feminized male names, for example ALI becomes ALIYAH, LATIF becomes LATIFAH, and ZAKI becomes ZAKIYAH. From the dataset, a total of 855 pairs of names were found from a total of 4,756 (or equivalent to 17.97%) of Arab descendant.

In the traditional Javanese naming system, the suffix {-a} and {-an} are used for male markers, while the suffix {-i} and {-em} are used for women, for example WAGIMAN and WAGIYEM (Sahayu, 2014). As for gender identity in the names of hybrids in Javanese people also supported by the presence of PUTRA as last name for men, for example AZIZ SETIA PUTRA, BAGUS FAUZAN WIJAYA PUTRA, NABIL PERMANA PUTRA; and PUTRI for women such as AQILA ANISA PUTRI, NABELA KARTIKA PUTRI, ARIFA ICHWANI PUTRI. The Javanese names are composed entirely with Arabic names, for example MALIKA RAFA KHAIRIYAH, NAIRA AZWA FAHIRA, and MAHIRA HASNA KAMILA; feminine identity tends to be performed by presenting the conformity of the feminine suffix {-a} to each element of the name (first name, middle name, and last name). The case is very different from the names of Arab descendants whose first names are more followed by masculine name because they are taken from the father’s name (patronym) or full name (Table 5).


Adoption of ancestral names (father and/grandfather)

In Arab descendant, patronymes are part of the personal name, used in all official documents and when calling someone, both in formal and informal situations. The patronym contains at least two elements: the personal name (first name) and the name of the father and/grandfather (last name). The adoption of patronym name can be characterized by the presence of BIN for male as in HASAN BIN MUCHSIN and BINTI for female, for example BARKAH BINTI THOLIB. The use of BIN adapted to IBNU by Javanese is not used as a patronym pointer, but as a first name, for example IBNU HAMZAH, IBNU ISMAIL, IBNU KHOIRUDDIN, IBNU NUR FAISS, and IBNU UMAR because the last names of those names are not their father’s names.


Figure 2 Structure of proper name with patronym system (Aribowo, 2019)




In some cases, BIN/BINTI in Arabic descendants personal names are eradicated, for example FADLUN SALIM ADAM (Figure 2). With the characteristics of patronym FADLUN SALIM ADAM, someone is called by the first name, FADLUN instead of SALIM or ADAM because these last two names are the names of his father and grandfather. Thus, to call someone is enough to look at the first name because actually the individual name is their first name. This condition is contrary to the tradition of Javanese nicknames which are not only formed from first names because most of the middle names and last names are taken from other people’s first names such as MUHAMMAD MALIK ZULFIKAR.


Table 6 Patronym name with father’s name

Name of Child Name of Father
Syech Bin Ahmad Alwi Mashur Achmad Alwi Mashur
Abbas Azzan Abdat Azzan Abdat
Haidar Mahmud Baraja Mahmud Baraja
Yahya Ahmad Al Habsyi Achmad Alhabsyi
Malika Binti Mansyur Sungkar Mansyur Mubarak Sungkar
Suud Binti Segaf Segaf Assegaf
Fairuz Ahmad Bawazir Ahmad Bawazir
Fatimah Umar Alydrus Umar Alydrus
Karima Hisyam Abdat Hisyam Abdat
Rugayah Alwi Al Hadad Alwi Al Hadad

Source: Aribowo (2019)


The names in bold in the “Name of Child” column in Table 6 are names taken from the biological father’s first name. The patronym name does not only occur in male as in the name SYECH BIN AHMAD ALWI MASHUR and YAHYA AHMAD BARAJA, but also for female such as MALIKA BINTI MANSYUR SUNGKAR and RUGAYAH ALWI AL HADAD. In this case, individuals seem to declare and display accurately, not only their individual but also family and social backgrounds (Pilcher, 2016). In other words, social practices on naming Arab descendants try to build relationships between individuals and family. Patronym is used as a way of registering new members in the community reflected through the embedding of the identity of their biological father.

Some names of Javanese people are also starting to be found with names that attach father names, for example ILHAM PUTRA ASHARI (son of MUHAMMAD ASHARI) and SYIFA AZIZA PUTRI SOKO (daughter of ANGGORO SOKO) as found in Table 7. Elements PUTRA and PUTRI which are present before the last name indcate that the name afterwards is the name of the child’s biological father. Interestingly, the chosen patronym is not the father’s first name (personal name with more than two elements), but the last name is used.


Table 7 Example of patronym on Javanese name

Name of Son Name of Father Name of Daughter Name of Father
Fauzan Putra Irawan Donny Ferri Irawan Akhila Putri Anggara Apri Setiyo Anggoro
Fawwaz Abdillah Putra Sahid Nur Sahid Aulia Putri Atmaja Ponco Atmojo
Ilham Putra Ashari Muhammad Ashari Khofifah Putri Wibowo Wibowo
Muhammad Putra Wartono Wartono Nabila Putri Haryanto Bambang Haryanto
Nabil Putra Kurniawan Dani Tri Kurniawan Nasywa Aulia Putri Hanafi Ichwan Hanafi
Raffa Putra Zuhaely Iwan Yuhaely Syifa Aziza Putri Soko Anggoro Soko
Ilham Putra Ashari Muhammad Ashari Zulaikha Putri Wibowo Edy Wibowo

Source: Aribowo (2019)




Last name with surname

Surname, although very rarely used during verbal and informal interactions, has important values ​​for those who have the right to bear it. It is very rare to find people of Arab descendant who use surname to call relatives or colleagues, unless used with the intention of showing affection. However, in formal or official purposes such as in population documents, the proper name is often found with surname as last name. In addition to the position at the last name, according to Aribowo dan Almasitoh (2019) surname can be recognized from several criteria. First, most surname begins with the article {-al}, for example AL HABSYI, AL KATIRI, and AL JUFRI. However, if the article is followed by certain letters (in tajweed known as syamsiyah letters) then progressive assimilation occurs. Therefore, articles will change according to the letters in front of them, for example AT TAMIMI and AS SEGGAF. Second, some surname are also initiated with a combination of ABU + AL into BAL, for example BALAMASY, BALADRAF, and BALFAS. Third, in another case, there are surnames beginning with BIN, for example BIN SYAHAB, BIN SMITH, and BIN YAHYA.

The importance of surname in Arab descendant society is not something that can be denied because surname has an important role in many aspects of social life in society. The fact is that there are several families that have a large influence and some are marginalized. Surname also has an important role in determining potential life partners (Latiff et al., 2016). Thus, it can be said that surname is the key to entering the Arab descendant community because surname only can be obtained through marital relations with men of Arab descendant who inherit one another.


Table 8 Surname as last name in one family

Name of Son Name of Daughter Name of Father Surname
Farhan Abdat Firaz Abdat Faruq Abdat Abdat
Muhsin Alhadad Malika Alhadad Husin Al Hadad Al Hadad
Abdullah Hasyim Al Hasni Fatimah Hasyim Al Hasni Hasyim Abdullah Alhasni Al Hasni
Hasan Al Jufri Najibah Al Jufri Abdullah Al Jufri Al Jufri
Muhammad Alkaf Aisyah Alkaf Abdullah Alkaf Al Kaf
Faisal Ahmad Ba’asyir Fitriyah Ahmad Ba’asyir Ahmad Abud Ba’asyir Ba’asyir
Arif Rahman Bahaswan Hana Bahaswan Sjafiq Bahaswan Bahaswan
Saleh Umar Bahfen Aminah Bahfen Umar Bahfen Bahfen
Hasan Syarif Baraja Maryam Syarif Baraja Syarif Jafar Baraja Baraja
Yuslam Said Shahbal Nadiyah Said Shahbal Said Shahbal Shahbal

Source: Aribowo (2019)


In fact, surname in the names of children, both son and daughter, is inherited from father’s surname. ABDAT family for example is inherited from FARUQ ABDAT to a son, FARHAN ABDAT and daughter FIRASZ ABDAT. The convention that applies is that children get a surname from their father, their father gets it from their father (grandfather), and so on. This means that the process of naming a child includes the continuity of a generation of men. The strong influence of the patrilineal system in naming can also be reflected in the tradition of changing female surname to male surname as a result of marriage.



Although they both use Arabic as a choice of names, Arabic descendants and Muslim Javanese names can be identified and distinguished. Although some characteristics such as the use of Arabic in the Yemeni dialect, the use of suffixes as feminine markers, and the adoption of the father’s name can be adapted by non-Arab people; surname is the only key that can distinguish it. Surname inherited from the male line can only be obtained from the marriage path.

This paper can at least give a little idea of how the name can be used to trace a person’s ethnicity, even though the names used are taken from the same language source. Larger onomastic dataset samples, especially those that include population data with more diverse ethnic variations, need to be investigated further in order to formulate comprehensive linguistic characteristics of Arab descendants names in Indonesia.



The authors would like to thank the Directorate General of Strengthening for Research and Development of the Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education for providing funding for the Doctoral Dissertation Research scheme. The author also would like to thank Tri Wibowo, staff of the Data and Statistics Section of Population and Civil Registration Agency Surakarta City who helped in obtaining population data. In addition, the author also would like to thank the reviewers who have provided substantive input and comments in this paper.



Anderson, J. M. (2007). The Grammar of Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from

Aribowo, E. K. (2015). Aspek-Aspek Linguistis Penanda Identitas Religi: Selayang Pandang Masyarakat Tutur Jawa Muslim. Seminar Nasional dan Launching ADOBSI (pp. 48–53). Retrieved October 18, 2016, from

Aribowo, E. K. (2019). Dataset Nama Keturunan Arab Kecamatan Pasar Kliwon Surakarta.

Aribowo, E. K., & Almasitoh, U. H. (2019). Disparity of The Arabic Name: The Spotlight on Children of Endogamous and Exogamous Marriages among Hadrami-Arabs in Indonesia. Arabiyat: Jurnal Pendidikan Bahasa Arab dan Kebahasaaraban, 6(1), 1–17. Retrieved June 12, 2019, from

Aribowo, E. K., & Herawati, N. (2016a). Trends in Naming System on Javanese Society: A Shift From Javanese to Arabic. Lingua Cultura, 10(2), 117–122. Retrieved December 25, 2016, from

Aribowo, E. K., & Herawati, N. (2016b). Pemilihan Nama Arab sebagai Strategi Manajemen Identitas di antara Keluarga Jawa Muslim. International Seminar Prasasti III: Current Research in Linguistics (pp. 270–277). Retrieved from

Askuri, & Kuipers, J. C. (2018). The Politics of Arabic Naming and Islamization in Java: Processes of Hybridization and Purification. Al-Jamiah: Journal of Islamic Studies, 56(1), 59–94. Al-Jami’ah Research Centre of State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga. Retrieved June 20, 2019, from

Bandana, I. G. W. S. (2015). Sistem Nama Orang Bali: Kajian Struktur dan Makna. Aksara, 27(1), 1–11. Retrieved from

vom Bruck, G., & Bodenhorn, B. (Eds.). (2006). The Anthropology of Names and Naming. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dirbas, H. (2017). Who has more Names than me? Lion Designations in Arabic. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 167(2), 323–338. Retrieved from

Fauziah, J. (2011). Fitur-fitur Fonologis Penggunaan Elemen-Elemen Bahasa Arab dalam Komunikasi Masyarakat Keturunan Arab Surakarta. Adabiyyāt, 10(2), 207–232. Retrieved December 28, 2016, from

Gunawan, F. S., & Karsono, O. M. F. (2013). Pemberian Nama Tionghoa Keluarga Sub Suku Fúqīng di Banjarmasin 马辰福清人命名分析. Century, 1(2), 1–11. Retrieved January 17, 2017, from

Jayaraman, R. (2005). Personal Identity in a Globalized World: Cultural Roots of Hindu Personal Names and Surnames. The Journal of Popular Culture, 38(3), 476–490. Retrieved from

Kafaabillah, D. (2018). Nama Marga sebagai Identitas Budaya Masyarakat Etnis Arab. LITERA, 17(2), 175–185. Retrieved March 25, 2019, from

Kecamatan Pasar Kliwon. (2013). Data Potensi Kelurahan Sekecamatan Pasar Kliwon Kota Surakarta. Surakarta.

Latiff, L. A., Yacob, S. N. B., Ismail, A., Sulaiman, A., Sulaiman, M., & Nizah, A. M. (2016). Arab Hadhrami dan Arab Peranakan di Malaysia. Al-Hikmah, 8(2), 17–37.

Libby, D. C., & Frank, Z. (2015). Naming Practices in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-century Brazil: Names, Namesakes, and Families in the Parish of Sa˜o Jos´e, Minas Gerais. Journal of Family History, 40(1), 64–91. Retrieved February 5, 2018, from

Mijianti, Y. (2018). Penyempurnaan Ejaan Bahasa Indonesia. Belajar Bahasa, 3(1), 113–126. Retrieved February 7, 2019, from

Nur, T. (2012). Analisis Kontrastif Perspektif Bahasa dan Budaya terhadap Distingsi Gender Maskulin Versus Feminin dalam Bahasa Arab dan Bahasa Indonesia. Humaniora, 23(3), 269–279. Retrieved February 4, 2019, from

Pilcher, J. (2016). Names, Bodies and Identities. Sociology, 50(4), 764–779. Retrieved January 9, 2017, from

Rahman, T. (2013). Personal Names of Pakistani Muslims: An Essay on Onomastics. Pakistan Perspectives, 18(1), 33–57.

Rasul, K. A. (2014). Sectarian Identity Manifestation in Iraqi Personal Names. Language, Individual & Society, 8(1), 182–192. Retrieved January 17, 2017, from

Ryding, K. C. (2005). A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from

Sahayu, W. (2014). Penanda Jenis Kelamin pada Nama Jawa dan Nama Jerman. Litera: Jurnal Penelitian Bahasa, Satra, dan Pengajarannya, 13(2), 338–348. Retrieved from

Sakallı, E. (2016). New Trends in Name-Giving in Turkey. Вопросы ономастики, 13(1), 171–177. Retrieved December 31, 2016, from

Suharyo. (2013). Pola Nama Masyarakat Keturunan Tionghoa. Humanika, 18(2), 1–10. Retrieved January 17, 2017, from

Ubaidillah. (2011). Interferensi Penggunaan Nama Diri Berbahasa Arab di Indonesia: Sebuah Kajian Sosiolinguistik. Adabiyyāt: Jurnal Bahasa dan Sastra, 10(1), 1–18. Retrieved from

Wibowo, R. M. (2001). Nama Diri Etnik Jawa. Humaniora, XIII(1), 45–55. Retrieved from

Widodo, S. T. (2014). The Development of Personal Names in Kudus, Central Java, Indonesia. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 134(271), 154–160. Elsevier B.V. Retrieved from

Widodo, S. T., Yussof, N., & Dzakiria, H. (2010). Nama Orang Jawa: Kepelbagaian Unsur dan Maknanya. Sari – International Journal of the World and Civilisation, 28(2), 259–277. Retrieved from

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *