30 August, 2010

What is in a name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose.....By any other name would smell as sweet." Great quote. Very wise words. And how true. With people in mind: it's not a name that makes a person have a certain personality or character. It's not a name that creates an impression or impact on others. It is what that person is, that does. The small, fragile looking Mother Teresa, had she had any other name, would still be as famed and admired; or, had Pele Edison Arantes do Nascimento, had any other name, he would still be as revered and idolized by millions around the world just as he is now. A few weeks ago, my eldest daughter was about to have her first child; she asked me to propose some names for the child. I suggested  a few.

For a girl, I suggested: Maryam, Asya, Khadija, Fathima, Aisha and Shaeyma; I would have added Barkah or Barakah, but she, my eldest daughter - is named so. For a boy, I mentioned: Muhammad, Hamza, Bilal, Salmaan, Loqman and Salah Al'Deen. All are noble, great Islamic historical names. But naming a child any of these names, would not make her or him, that noble or great. A name is one of the last things that makes a person be what one becomes; many other things do play very important roles in shaping and making a person. Most important of all, is how a person is brought up; and the environment and conditions that one grows up in and through, also mold's and forms a person's character, personality and qualities. Still, giving a name to a child or to any one, should not be taken lightly. Names still give impressions and have impacts. Imagine: had Barack Obama been Barack Oburu or Barack Odongo, would he have been as impressive and have had such an impact; even if he had exactly the same personality and qualities? I very much don't think so.

On both my paternal and my maternal sides, the name Muhammad is very rare; my father is not called so, and none of either my paternal or maternal grandparents or uncles is called so; in fact: looking at my family tree, on both sides, backwards through the ages - I find very few people named 'Muhammad' . Still, I have always loved the name most; and since childhood, I have always known that my first son would be named Muhammad just as I have known that my first daughter would be named Barqah. I have always considered 'Muhammad' to be the best and most impressive name of all, for a boy/man; just as I have regarded 'Khadija' as the best and most beautiful name for a girl/woman.Yet: how many people are named either and live and be as noble and great as these names?