The names Muhammad and Ahmad both come from the root work ‘hamd’ which means praise. The very first verse of the Quran begins with praise to Allah who is the Lord over everything that exists 1
The name Aḥmad means someone who is highly praised and deserving of much praise and Muhammad means someone whose beautiful qualities and attributes out way all others. In other words, he has praiseworthy attributes.
Both Ahmad and Muhammad are from the names of our beloved Prophet ﷺ. He narrated in the following hadeeth:
لِي خَمْسَةُ أَسْمَاءٍ أَنَا مُحَمَّدٌ، وَأَحْمَدُ، وَأَنَا الْمَاحِي الَّذِي يَمْحُو اللَّهُ بِي الْكُفْرَ، وَأَنَا الْحَاشِرُ الَّذِي يُحْشَرُ النَّاسُ عَلَى قَدَمِي، وَأَنَا الْعَاقِبُ
“I have five names: I am Muhammad, I am Ahmad, I am al-Mahi (the eraser) by means of whom Allah erases disbelief, I am al-Ḥashir – people will be resurrected on the Day of Judgment after me, and I am al-‘Aqib, (the last) Prophet and Messenger of Allah.’ (Ṣaḥiḥ Muslim)
These names truly embody the personality of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. He had praiseworthy attributes like kindness, generosity, fairness, and trustworthiness to name a few. These characteristics were with him throughout his life and not just after his prophethood.
The Prophet Muhammad, ﷺ endured a lot of pain and loss during his childhood. His father died before he was born and before the age of 10 he loss his mother, grandfather, and uncle. Despite all this loss, he was a kind and respectful child.
His grandfather was a very influential man and used to conduct meetings at the Ka’bah. The men of the Quraysh would come to these meetings to discuss matters of politics as well as other matters.
The Prophet’s grandfather would sit down under the shade of the Ka’bah and lay out his garment. He would allow Muhammad to sit on his garment, a luxury he did not allow his own children. Instead of wanted to run and play as the other children, Muhammad would sit quietly, attentively, and listen to the discussions much to his grandfather’s delight.
Adulthood Before Prophethood
As a young adult, the prophet Muhammad did trade as a living. He was so honest and upstanding, that many preferred doing business with him than other traders. He was given the nickname Al-Amin which means the trustworthy.
He was often called on to assist with settling disputes because the people trusted his judgment and his word. During his young adulthood, Makkah had many tribes and they warred against each other.
Muhammad participated in a meeting called Hilf al-Fudul (The Alliance of the Virtuous). This league was created to prevent injustices that were being carried out against the defenseless and the weak who traveled to Makkah for business and religious obligations, and to prevent the tribal wars that broke out frequently.
Those who joined this leagued promised to protect the people of Makkah whether they were native or foreign against any injustice and to assist one another financially where needed.
Once there was a complaint against Abu Jahl from a trader. Abu Jahl refused to give him money he owed him. When this was explained to the messenger of Allah, he personally went to Abu Jahl and retrieved the money without confrontation.
Through his honesty in trade and other societal issues, he attracted the attention of Khadijah, a wealthy trader. When she heard of his noble character and his skills as a trader, she sent for him and made him an offer that he accepted. He took her merchandise to Sham and, on his return, he gave her double the money they had agreed on.
This was impressive to say the least. Again, his praiseworthy attributes were brought to the forefront and this time she considered him for marriage and sent a proposal to him. After their union was approved of by his uncle Abu Talib, the two were married.
Each year during Ramadan, Muhammad would go up to the cave of Hira to reflect and contemplate. It was here that he received revelation from Allah through the angel Jibreel and his prophecy began.
Once he began to call people to Allah openly, the people of Makkah began to abuse him and the people who believed in his call. The Muslims were tortured extensively. But Muhammad never treated anyone badly and was always kind, well-mannered and patient.
There is no one that could say Muslim or non-Muslim that the Prophet Muhammad had ever treated them badly or unjustly. He was dedicated to his call, faithful to his follower, and merciful to those less fortunate than he.
During his Prophecy, Islam spread to many nations and people quickly. Many people accepted Islam, never having seen his face nor having met him. But rather, they heart of his praiseworthy qualities and believed in his message.
People who want to name their child this name do so because they want their child to have the praiseworthy qualities that the Prophet had.
Ḥamd means praise, admiration, commendation, and complementation.
Ḥammād is someone who has been praised immensely. Ḥammād bin Salamah (d. 783AD) was major scholar of ḥadīth and fiqh
Ḥamīd is one of Allah’s beautiful names and it means someone who has been praised in every state, decision, and action. A female would be called Ḥamīdah.
Ḥammūd is someone who has been praised with a lot of emphasis. A female would be called Ḥammūdah.
Maḥmūd is someone of who has been praised for his beautiful characteristics. A female would be called Maḥmūdah.
Aḥmad ibn al-Ḥanbal (d. 855AD) is the eponym of the Hanbalī school of fiqh. He was a great scholar of ḥadīth and fiqh. He was titled Imām ahl al-sunnah, the leader of the people of the sunnah.
1. Surah 1:1