06 September, 2010

Of The Name 'Muhammad' and Islam and Naming

Islam commands us, to call others by their correct names and by what is pleasing to them; not to be derogatory or insulting. It would mean the same rule would apply when spelling and writing names of others. Many times, a name is wrongly spelt because that is how that name is pronounced by the writer or that's how it is commonly spelt or that's how the bearer of the name would like the name spelt. But, there are names, very few names, that are wrongly spelt or intentionally mis-spelt with sinister or malicious motives behind it.

 صلى الله عليه و سلم
Muhammad, Mohammed, Mohammad, Muhammed, Mohamed, Mohamad, Mahammed, Mohammod, Mahamed, Muhammod, Muhamad, Mohmmed, Mohamud, Mohammud, Mohomet, Mouhammed, Mehmet or in the former Soviet Union: Magamed and Makhamad - so many spellings for this great, very noble name. And yet in its Arabic form it has only one and only one spelling:  محمّد. Why so many spellings for the most famous, most known and most popular of all Muslim names?

The main reason for these many spellings, is that - most none Arabic speaking people simply can not pronounce the name محمّد  as it should be. Arabic has two distinct 'h' (ه also هـ) sounds; one is the normal 'h' as used in English or as in 'Harry' and the other is what most non-Arabic speaking people can not pronounce: (ح).  The ح needs to be be pronounced deep in a throaty way, which most non-Arabic speaking people find impossible to. And then there is the مّ in the name; which many non-Arabic speaking people do not take care to pronounce correctly.

It is the ح and the مّ  in  محمّد  that has complicated its pronunciation and spelling in the Latin alphabet or in the many other alphabets. Hence, the many variations in its spelling in the Latin alphabet. Pronounced correctly - as in Arabic, محمّد sounds extremely beautiful and impressive. This has made some, who hate the name and what it stands for - find and create many ways in defaming the noble name. They do so and have done so, intentionally and with malevolence. They promote the mis-spelling of the name. And it is with the same evil intentions, that of all Muslim names -  محمّد  is commonly abbreviated in writing to: Mo'hd and so on.

The best and most suitable spelling for  محمّد  in Latin would be: Muhammad. Most Muslim scholars, with good knowledge of the Latin Alphabet, agree on this. Even that, doesn't capture the charm and the grandeur that is in its real Arabic form:  محمّد. Many have schemed against the name, what it represents and what the bearer of that name symbolizes and stands for; but, all have failed. Which brings us back to the same Shakespeare quote: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose.....By any other name would smell as sweet." محمّد transliterated or pronounced  in any other way would still remain صلى الله عليه و سلم