Recorded in various spellings including Aasaf, Asaaf, Assaf, Asif, As'ad, and Assad, this is an early Muslim name, probably from a time of at least three thousand years ago. Believed to be of Persian origins, it was a given name, but now can be either a surname or a first name, and in some cases both male and female. It is a descriptive form of endearment, and the meaning is 'pure or genuine'. It is said that the traditions of Muslim names and name giving, are a gift from Allah, who demanded that they be pleasant and reflect the glories of life and nature. Historically Muslim names have upheld the ancient hereditary tradition of adding the fathers name or sometimes the grandfathers, to that of the child, the place of birth, and then the clan or tribal name. This tradition like many others, is under threat by such influences as taxation and the telephone. The telephone, particularly in areas of western influence, demands a 'fixed' spelling for its directories. This creates a 'locked in' surname, which is required for administrative purposes, but is causing distortion to Muslim culture. It is not clear what the long term effect will be. Muslim names were originally recorded in sanscript, which still remains the most popular form, the spellings in the Romanish alphabet being phonetic or "sounds like" forms.
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