In Arabic names, a nisba (Arabic: نسبة nisbah, "attribution"), also rendered as nesba or nesbat, 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). Nisba, originally an Arabic word, has been passed to many other languages such as Turkish, Persian, Bengali and Urdu.
In Persian, Turkish, and Urdu usage, it is always pronounced and written as nisbat. In Arabic usage, that pronunciation occurs when the word is uttered in its construct state only.
The practice has been adopted in Iranian names and South Asian Muslim names. The nisba can at times become a surname.
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
Traditional 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 confusing to distinguish from other similar names; in such cases, the nisba may be added as an additional specifier.
A nisba is usually prefixed by the definite article 'al-' and can take a number of forms:
- Al-Almani, related to or from Germany
- Al-Amriki, related to or from America
- Al-Armani, related to or from Greater Armenia or Armenians
- Al Yrifani, related to or from Yerevan
- Al Baghdadi, related to or from the city of Baghdad, e.g. Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Junayd al-Baghdadi.
- al-Britani, related to or from the UK
- Al Busnawi, related to or from Bosnia, e.g. Matrakçı Nasuh al-Busnawi.
- 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
- Faridi, related to or from the region of Greater Faridpur in Bangladesh e.g. Abdul Haque Faridi
- 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-Imam al-Hadrami.
- Al-Farsi or al-Farisi, related to or from the region of Pars (Fars) or 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 (modern day Iberia) 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-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.
- Siraji, related to or from the district of Sirajganj in Bangladesh e.g. Ismail Hossain Siraji
- 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.
- 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
- Islamabadi, related to or from the city of Chittagong (previously known as Islamabad) e.g. Maniruzzaman Islamabadi
- al-Marwazi, from Marw
- al-Rûmi – from Rûm (Asia Minor)
- al-Rûmani, from Rome
- 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, al-Sijistani, al-Sajistani, al-Sijzi – from Sistan, Persia
- al-Qazwini – from Qazvin, Persia
- al-Jurjani – from Jurjan, Persia
- al-Astarabadi – from Astarabad (modern Gorgan), Persia
- al-Darbandi, Darbandi - from Derbent, Persia
- al Bukhari - from Bukhara, Uzbekistan
- al-Daylami - from Daylam, northern Iran
- al-Jannabi - from Jannaba port city, Arrajan province of Persia
- al-Quhistani - from Quhistan
- al-Nahawandi, al-Nihawandi - from Nahavand, Iran
- al-Nisaburi, al-Naysaburi - from Nishapur, Iran
- al-Qumisi, al-Kumisi - from Qumis, Iran
- Maneri - from Maner Sharif, India, e.g. Makhdoom Yahya Maneri.
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.
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:
The nisba is optional but is quite widespread.