In Arabic names, a nisba (also spelled nesba, sometimes nesbat ; Arabic: نسبة nisbah, "attribution") is an adjective indicating the person's place of origin, tribal affiliation, or ancestry, used at the end of the name and occasionally ending in the suffix -iyy(ah). Nisbah is originally an Arabic word that was passed to many other languages such as Turkish, Persian and Urdu.
A nisba "relation" is a grammatical term referring to the suffixation of masculine -iyy, feminine -iyyah to a word to make it an adjective. As an example, the word ‘Arabiyy (عربي) means "Arab, related to Arabic, Arabian". Nisba forms are very common in Arabic names.
Use in onomastics
Arabic names do not include family names or surnames, but rather patronymics (nasab), where the name of the person is followed by the name of his father, usually linked by ibn or bin ('son'). Patronymics may be long as they may include all known forefathers. When a name is simplified to one or two ancestors, it may become confused with other persons' names, so an additional specifier, a nisba, may be added as an attribute.
A nisba is usually prefixed by al ('the') and may be to almost anything:
- Al Baghdadi, related to or from the city of Baghdad, e.g. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Junayd al-Baghdadi.
- Al-Dimashqi, related to or from the city of Damascus e.g. Al-Dimashqi (geographer), Abu al-Fadl Ja'far ibn 'Ali al-Dimashqi, Abu al-Fadl Ja'far ibn 'Ali al-Dimashqi.
- Al Himsi, related to or from the city of Homs e.g. Qustaki al-Himsi, Ibn Na'ima al-Himsi.
- Al Balushi, related to or from the region of Balochistan e.g. Azan Al-Balushi, Talal Al-Bloushi, Mai Al Balushi, Aisha Al Balushi
- Al Filisṭīnī, related to or from the region of Palestine e.g. Abu Qatada al-Filistini.
- Al Masri, related to or from Egypt. e.g. Taher al-Masri, Abu Hamza al-Masri.
- Al Najdi, related to or from the region of Najd in Saudi Arabia e.g. Qutaybah al-Najdi
- Al Tihami, related to or from the region of Tihamah in Saudi Arabia.
- Al Hijazi, related to or from the region of Hijaz in Saudi Arabia. e.g. Amal Hijazi, Farouk Hijazi, Abu'l Abbas al-Hijazi
- El Djezairi, related to or from Algeria. e.g. Abdelkader El Djezairi.
- Al Kairouani, related to or from the city of Kairouan in Tunisia.
- Al-Tikriti, related to or from the city of Tikrit, e.g. Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti, Abu Raita al-Takriti, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti
- Al Turki, related to or from the country of Turkey e.g. Abu Yusuf Al-Turki, Azjur al-Turki, Hassan Abdullah Hersi al-Turki, Hussain Al-Turki
- Al Yemeni, related to or from the country of Yemen e.g. Abu Bara al Yemeni, Haitham al-Yemeni, Hussein al-Yemeni.
- Al Hadrami, related to or from the region of Hadhramaut e.g Al-Ala'a Al-Hadrami, Ahmed Al-Hadrami.
- Al Farsi, related to or from the country of Persia e.g Salman Al-Farsi, Saud Al-Farsi, Abdulaziz Mohammed Majid Al-Farsi
- Al Iraqi, related to or from the country of Iraq e.g Fakhr-al-Din Iraqi, Abdul Hadi al Iraqi, Abu Ayoub al-Iraqi
- Al Tunisi, related to or from the country of Tunisia e.g Abu Nasr al-Tunisi, Abu Osama al-Tunisi, Ali ibn Ziyad at-Tarabulsi al-Tunisi al-'Absi, Nabilah al-Tunisi
- Al Albani, related to or from the country of Albania e.g Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani.
- Al Andalusi, related to or from the region of Al-Andalus e.g Said al-Andalusi, Abū ʿAbdallāh Yaʿīsh ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Yūsuf ibn Simāk al-Andalusī al-Umawī
- Al-Maghrebi, related to or from the region of Maghreb e.g Ibn Yaḥyā al-Maghribī al-Samawʾal, Mahmud Sulayman al-Maghribi, Yusuf al-Maghribi.
- Al- Tamimi related to or from the city of Tamim e.g Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab ibn Sulayman ibn Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rashid.
- Al-Shami, related to or from the region of Levant or from the country of Syria e.g Nasser al-Shami, Husayn al-Shami, Abu Anas al-Shami, Abu Humam al-Shami.
- Al-Lubnani, related to or from the country of Lebanon e.g Bilal al-Berjawi al-Lubnani.
- Al-Kuwaiti, related to or from the country of Kuwait e.g Abu Omar al-Kuwaiti, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, Jandal al-Kuwaiti.
- Non-Arab places
- Al Sindhi, related to or from the region of Sindh e.g. Mohammad Hayya Al-Sindhi
- al-Razi – from Ray, Persia
- al-Isfahani – from Isfahan, Persia
- al-Marwazi, from Marw
- al-Rumi – from Rum (Asia Minor)
- al-Tiflisi, from Tiflis (Tbilisi), Georgia
- al-Tusi – from Tus, Khurasan, Persia
- al-Khurasani – from Khurasan e.g. Abu Muslim, Abdallah ibn Tahir al-Khurasani
- al-Tabari – from Tabaristan, Persia
- al-Shirazi – from Shiraz, Fars, Persia
- al-Hamadani, from Hamadan, Persia
- al-Sistani – from Sistan, Persia
- al-Qazwini – from Qazvin, Persia
- al-Jurjani – from Jurjan, Persia
- al-Astarabadi – from Astarabad (modern Gorgan), Persia
Tribes, clans or families
- Al Tamimi, from the tribe or clan of Bani Tamim. e.g. Modher Sadeq-Saba al-Tamimi, Talib al-Suhail al-Tamimi, Alaa al-Tamimi.
- Al Qurashi, from the tribe or clan of Quraish. e.g. ibn Kathir Al-Qurashi, Abû 'Uthmân Sa'îd ibn Hakam al Qurashi.
- Al Ta'i, from the tribe of Tai'. e.g. Hatem at-Ta'i.
- Al Saud, from the family/house of Saud. e.g. Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Al Jawhara bint Abdulaziz Al Saud, Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman ibn Faisal ibn Turki ibn Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al Saud.
- Ahl al-Bayt, from the People of the House.
- Al Maliki, related to Malik al-Ashtar. e.g. Nouri al-Maliki.
- Al Farouqi, related to Farooq the Great. e.g. Ismail al-Faruqi.
One can have more than one nisba, one can be related to a city, a clan, a profession and a person at the same time. Examples include:
- Ali ibn Abi-Hazm al-Qarshi al-Dimashqi, from the tribe of Quraish and from Damascus (Dimashq).
- Abd al-Qahir ibn Tahir al-Tamimi al-Shaffi al-Baghdadi, from the tribe of Bani Tamim, from the city of Baghdad and a follower of Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi`i.
The nisba is optional but is quite widespread.
- Ansari — from Ansar, Medina people who helped prophet Muhammad
- Tabataba'i — someone who has two Seyyed as parents
- Bukhari — someone born in Bukhara
- Hanbali — someone following Hanbali Madhhab