This is an ancient Islamic name, which according to the Islamic Names survey dated 1989 may be described as geographical. It is also in a sense descriptive in that it is a name given to a pious member of the Shiite family who has undertaken a pilgrimage to Mecca, and hence the sacred burial place of Allah. An alternative suggestion is that it is a baptismal name for a child, who it is hoped will ultimately be blessed by such a visit. The spelling is usually Najaf, but on the Indian Sub-continent may be Nazaf.The suffix ending of '-ian' is patronymic to imply 'son or descendant of'.Islamic surnames generally follow entierly different rules to European surnames. They are usually hereditary and tribal, and locational, and patronymic, but until recently they have not (in the western sense) been 'fixed' in their spellings from one generation to another. The introduction of world wide communications has caused a hiatus in the various non western cultures, requiring the adoption of acceptable hereditary spellings. This has meant that almost overnight names such as Khan and Patel, which were formerly used as status and baptismal names, have become some of the worlds most popular 'surnames'.
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