The problem with Muslim baby names…

by Sunny, on 16th October, 2005

…is that some are rapidly going out of fashion. Pickled Politics contributor Fe’reeha has just had a baby and wrote from the hospital about predicament she is in. Her husband was of the opinion that the way some Muslim names are coming into the limelight, soon it’ll be a real tough decision to find a non-controversial name.

I guess for the time being Omar, Bakri, Sidiq, Haseeb, Shehzad and Tanveer are already out. And God forbid, Osama and Zarqawi are not even worth mentioning…
Her son’s name? Hamzah. Doh! She adds:
Even though I really like the name Hamzah, which means brave like a lion and is mostly named after Ameer Hamzah of Arab, who was a very brave and pious man in 6th BC, I tried hard to not name my son that.

But the name was chosen by my father in law long before Masood (my husband) even met me… and hence long before the days of Abu Hamza of Finsbury Mosque.

Besides, It’s still hard to make people of that generation make understand why are we hesitant if our child share the name with an Imam (which should be a matter of pleasure indeed *groan*).

Though having Fe’reeha as a mother should help little Hamzah, Surely others will want something less controversial?

A majority of Muslim names have Muhammed as a first or middle name out of respect for the prophet, but what do you do if it may present to be a hindrance? Two of Fe’reeha’s friends recently had baby boys and named them Adam and Abraham respectively, only because these names sounded more English than Muslim. It helped of course that the two are also prophets in Islam.

Gargi Bhattacharyya talked of the same issue in the Guardian recently, giving birth to a son on the 2nd of July in a half-Hindu and half-Muslim family. In the current climate she says, it’s better to have a girl than a boy.

I think I agree with her. Long live baby girls!

Entry Filed under: Culture, Religion

19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Limerick  |  October 16th, 2005 at 5:50 pm

    Some will change names, others will remain stubborn and keep Muslim names. The danger is how others perceive them. Radio 5 Live I believe did an investigation last year where kids with Muslim names had more chance of rejection from potential employers than those with anglo-saxon names, even if they had the same qualifications.

  • 2. Sunny  |  October 16th, 2005 at 6:29 pm

    Kabir - the best name I reckon. Could belong to any of the faiths, and is non controversial too. If anyone nicks that I’m not gonna be happy :@

  • 3. Kulvinder  |  October 16th, 2005 at 6:35 pm

    Why is it stubborn to keep a muslim name?

    If any bigots would be prejudicial against an individual because of their name, i doubt changing that name would have any significant positive impact. They would still be bigotted and prejudicial against that individual having met them.

    To paraphrase in the mind of the bigot; Hamzah by any other name would still be a paki.

    I don’t however feel there is too much to be concerned about, i very much doubt its an issue for most people.

  • 4. Mokum  |  October 16th, 2005 at 8:57 pm

    Boys:

    Saladin is best for our times.

    Those with a cheeky nature could adopt Majnoun as a first name.

    Girls:

    1,001 Leilahs are not enough.

    As salaamu aleikum.

  • 5. Siddharth  |  October 16th, 2005 at 10:15 pm

    Nice post Sunny. I can relate to Gargi Bhattacharyya on this one. I was really glad that our baby turned out to be a girl last year. We had the option of choosing from beautiful Sanskrit names.

    Asian Muslim boys on the other hand have the burden of having names that cannot be anything other than Arabic. Although its quite common in South Asia for boys to have traditional Bengali, Malayan or Javan names. I’m all in favour of that rather than having the unfortunate phenomenon of ending up with little Adams, Josephs and Abrahams. Smacks too much of the Coopers of Goodness Gracious Me!

    But for Muslim boys here in the UK, I’m hoping that that a name will not be enough for them to face a future filled with the ignorant hostilities from the likes of the OPs of this world. Lets hope and pray.

  • 6. Yusuf Smith  |  October 16th, 2005 at 10:26 pm

    I guess for the time being Omar, Bakri, Sidiq, Haseeb, Shehzad and Tanveer are already out. And God forbid, Osama and Zarqawi are not even worth mentioning…

    Zarqawi never was a first name - it means coming from Zarqa, a town in Jordan. Omar is a classical Muslim name, and Shehzad and Tanveer (or Tanweer) are also names of long-standing in the Indo-Pak Muslim community. They will not go out of use just because of one incident.

  • 7. Mokum  |  October 16th, 2005 at 11:20 pm

    May Hamzah and his family lead a blessed Muslim British life. May no one fear a name. Alhamdulillah.

  • 8. Ahmad  |  October 16th, 2005 at 11:34 pm

    It’s a sad time when we have to watch what we name our kids in fear of reprisals. It’s also funny how names like Omar, Osama and Hamza are stigmatised yet names like Fred, Timothy and Ian are so common place. Yet we would never associate the name Fred with Fred West nor would we associate the name Timothy with Timothy McVeigh and we wouldn’t associate the name Ian with Ian Huntley.

    The sooner that people know that these names have meanings which are stronger than the stigma attached to them, the better.

  • 9. Siddharth  |  October 16th, 2005 at 11:52 pm

    Indeed, following on from Ahmad’s excellent point, I wonder if the Irish community of London were forced to feel apologetic, or indeed if their some of their numbers had to have their State Benefits reduced, during the IRA bombing campaigns of the 70s, if they felt the need to express or celebrate their Irish culture in any way. Or even if the Irish names like Fearghus, Patrick or Aidan had to be dropped for fear of controversy?

  • 10. Mokum  |  October 16th, 2005 at 11:57 pm

    Siddharth, do you really think the Irish were made to feel welcome when London was regularly exploding for reasons Celtic?

    Your chip is far bigger than your shoulder.

  • 11. Siddharth  |  October 17th, 2005 at 12:05 am

    Mokum, do you really think the victimisation faced by the Irish comes close to that faced by the normal workaday Muslims in the UK today?

    And whats that got to do with my chip? Your sense of proportion is obviously challenged.

  • 12. Mokum  |  October 17th, 2005 at 12:08 am

    do you really think the victimisation faced by the Irish comes close to that faced by the normal workaday Muslims in the UK today?

    Yes, I do.

    What’s your solution? All you do is pour brimstone on whites. Very beaux arts, I guess.

  • 13. Siddharth  |  October 17th, 2005 at 12:22 am

    What’s your solution? All you do is pour brimstone on whites. Very beaux arts, I guess.

    Mokum, this is a blog where you will read a lot about young Asian people’s experiences in the UK. Some of it are grievances, a lot more will be celebratory. If you find that troublesome, to the point where its “pouring brimstone on whites” - you’ve approached this from completely the wrong end and you have misinterpreted a discussion with something more sinister.

    On the other hand, it may be that you have simply misinterpreted my tone. In which case, let me clarify. My post was more of a question than a howl in the wind. Did Irish people consider changing their kids names in the 70s to non-contoversial ones following the IRA bombs? If that question is pouring “brimstone on whites”, I’m concerned that my language should be so rattling.

    Unless of course, you’ve been drinking again?
    That was a JOKE, really.

  • 14. Mokum  |  October 17th, 2005 at 1:30 am

    you have misinterpreted a discussion with something more sinister

    The story of Asia’s life.

    I think you should be more charitable, and that’s not a joke either.

  • 15. coruja  |  October 17th, 2005 at 3:26 pm

    I agree with the posts above, kids who will be rejected by potential employers because of their ‘Musilm’ name (I assume at the application stage) will be rejected by the same employers at the interview stage - regardless of the fact the person would now be less radically monikered.

    Call a spade a spade I say.

  • 16. Nush  |  October 17th, 2005 at 9:36 pm

    I think its such a shame, that people now have to double think what name feels appropriate for their child.

    but its the climate we live in today, i dont doubt that there is rejection of job applications, the fact that we all pretty much accept it as a given means that not enough is being done to fix it.

    it really irks me when there is so much ignorance, but thats going off topic.

  • 17. Don  |  October 18th, 2005 at 2:11 pm

    Mohammed has entered the top twenty boy’s names. Way to go. With Fred and Ian nowhere in sight :)

  • 18. SajiniW  |  October 20th, 2005 at 1:29 pm

    I agree with Nush. It’s sad to see things going this way

  • 19. George Carty  |  October 28th, 2005 at 2:03 pm

    It’s a sad time when we have to watch what we name our kids in fear of reprisals. It’s also funny how names like Omar, Osama and Hamza are stigmatised yet names like Fred, Timothy and Ian are so common place. Yet we would never associate the name Fred with Fred West nor would we associate the name Timothy with Timothy McVeigh and we wouldn’t associate the name Ian with Ian Huntley.

    Yes, but aren’t Myras rather thin on the ground in today’s Britain, or Adolfs in Germany?

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