Hanif (given name)

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  • 1. righteous, upright
  • 2. true believer
Region of originMiddle East
Other names
Alternative spellingHaneef

Hanif (Arabic: حنيف) is an Arabic masculine given name, which means a righteous person or a true believer.[1] The origin of the word is uncertain,[2] although it is generally agreed that it is derived from the Syriac word hanpe, which means 'heathen'.


It is generally agreed that the word Ḥanīf (plural: ḥunafā') is derived from the Syriac word hanpe, which means 'heathen'. However, there is no credible theory which can explain the transformation of the term's meaning – from heathen to monotheist. Nabataeans used Hanif's cognate to designate a follower of Hellenized religion. And Nabataean is generally considered as the region where the transformation of the term's meaning took place.[3]

Alfred Felix Landon Beeston argues that the ambiguity associated with the shift of the term's meaning can be largely removed if one assumes that the term was introduced via Najran, instead of its direct introduction from Syria. He argues that the Najranites had adopted the term hanpe from the Syrian missionaries, who used it for all non-Christians, irrespective of them being polytheist or monotheist. The 5th century inhabitants of Mecca had strong trading ties with the Yemen, where the wealthier classes were overwhelmingly monotheist. And, as the Najranites used the term Ḥanīf to designate the Yemenis, it would have been easier for the Meccans to adopt it in the sense of monotheism.[3]

Notable people[edit]

Notable people with the given name Hanif include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hanks, Patrick, ed. (2003). Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press. p. 125. ISBN 978-0195081374. Retrieved 19 October 2016. ...a personal name based on Arabic hanif 'upright', 'true believer'.
  2. ^ Glassé, Cyril (2001). New Encyclopedia of Islam: A Revised Edition of the Concise Encyclopedia of Islam. AltaMira Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-0759101890. Retrieved 16 October 2016. ...hunafa' (sing. hanif), a word of uncertain origin...
  3. ^ a b Andrew Rippin (1991). "RHMNN and the Hanifs". In Hallaq, Wael B.; Little, Donald P. Islamic Studies Presented to Charles J.Adams. E. J. Brill. p. 167. ISBN 9004092218. Retrieved 16 October 2016.