Monday, November 23, 2009

Names names names...

Continuing the topic…

How many of us, particularly the Malaysian, or Malays even, who heard of the name Malik, and instantly thought of the king?

How many of us, the Malaysian, who heard of the name Comel, and automatically thought of a cute girl? (or cat, but no, I’m talking about a person here)

How many of us who liked a name not for the meaning, but just because the name has a certain ring to it that sounded melodious to the ears?

Observing the Malay communities nowadays, it’s amazing how children’s names are rapidly growing, flourishing into a unique concoction of names that could no longer be fit on a school’s name tag. Not only that, the distinctive spelling adds some spice to the name, resulting in a very, very creative name indeed.

However, in the end, real names are neglected, nicknames are adopted, since of course, you can’t possibly be calling the full name of someone in full blast. Unless you’re angry. But who does that aside from parents anyway?

Frankly, I didn’t think that calling a certain person by a nickname is a bad thing. In fact, it’s positively endearing, announcing to the world on how great of a bond you have with your friends. Not to mention how nicknames, most of the time, are cute and feisty.

Despite how nicknames thoroughly crashed the original intention of giving a person an exquisite name with beautiful meanings and all that, it was not as if we were thinking of all those beautiful meanings when we call them by their real names either.

Sure enough, the image in our head when we call a friend by his name would be the image of his persona. Not this, not that, just plainly him. Purely him.

Yet what if someone’s nickname is Pendek, would you think that he’s short?

That’s a no-brainer, for sure.

But what if you don’t know Malay, would you think of that?

Probably no.

Which brings to my point.

Here in KSA, everyone seems to have the same name. The most common would be Muhammad and Abdullah.

Of course, back in Malaysia, almost every boy was named as Muhammad as well, but since Muhammad was such a common name, most people didn’t call them by that; they prefer to use the second name.

But not here, as far as I know. Everyone is either Muhammad or Abdullah.

Truly, back in Malaysia, I never gave it much of a thought. But standing here, looking through their perspective, I come to realize that when people called his name, Muhammad, the thought of Prophet Muhammad came to mind.

When they called him Abdullah, the servant of Allah floated in their brains.

A little confession if you may—I was quite indifferent to the name Amir and Amirah, because like Muhammad and Abdullah, those are common names as well.

But when I learned the true meaning behind the commonness, listened at the grandness of the word, I was overwhelmed with a new judgment.

Those names are definitely, definitely luxurious. All around, people are calling you as the prince, the princess. And they actually meant that. It doesn’t get any better than that.

I remembered how back in Malaysia, those people who were named Puteri (Princess in Malay) were considered high and mighty.

But not Amirah.

Because Amirah is a common name and all.

Because not everyone knows the meaning of everyone’s name.

However, now that you know the meaning as well, you can’t deny that Amir is certainly a high status name. I’m beginning to see them in a different light now.

In fact, when I opened my friends’ list on Facebook and saw their names, I was suddenly drowned in an overwhelming typhoon.

They have such magnificent names.

Back then, I used to judge a name by how good it rolled on my tongue.

Now, not anymore.

It’s all kind of awesomeness. The name is like a personal doa. Muhammad, they said. With the thought of the prophet in their mind. Amin, they said. With the thought of safe in their mind. They unconsciously want us (and by us, I mean those with Amin as their name) to be safe, silently praying for a blessed life.

But then, what if someone decided to give you a nickname? For instance, Amin became Min?

It wouldn’t give much trouble I guess, since min in Arabic does mean ‘from’—or in some dialect, ‘who’— so it doesn’t really matter, because they certainly didn’t mean to say ‘who who’ to him anyway. They have his persona in mind when calling him, that’s for sure.

But what if it was something greater than that? What if his name was Shahrir, and people called him…Sharir?

Truthfully, I didn’t know the exact meaning of the name, Shahrir, but I am aware of a handful of people bearing that name.

So what if they were unconsciously being called Sharir? Wouldn’t that be bad? Since Sharir means evil in Arabic and all?

I have no doubt that Arabians would never make that mistake since they concentrate really hard on their pronunciation and you would certainly hear them calling you ShaHrir instead of Sharir, but Malaysian’s tongue, including me, are not very much so. Our pronunciation is at the tip of our tongue, not in our throat.

No doubt, once in a while, someone will slip and call him Sharir. In a hurry, for instance.

Wouldn’t that be bad?

But still, we didn’t have evil in our mind, so it doesn’t really matter, doesn’t it? But the thought is frightening nonetheless.

Reminds me of a story once told by my cousin, on how her friend’s name is Nabila Huda. And others called her La Huda.

Their religion teacher heard of this, and quickly ordered them to not call her that anymore. La Huda might sound chic and glamorous to our ears, but it actually means ‘Not the right guidance.’ That story made me shiver.

Imagine hearing people calling you that for your entire life.

And here’s another story that I heard, this time from my sister. Apparently, a Malaysian named Akma wanted to apply citizenship in Japan. But Japan wanted her to change her name.


Akma in Japanese is pronounced as Akuma.

Akuma, in Japanese, means the devil.

According to my sister, Akma didn’t want to change her name, because really, Akma (leader in Arabic) is a perfectly good Muslim name! Why should a non-muslim order her to do something out of her will?

Fine theory, really. The name certainly is a Muslim name, undeniably beautiful and blessed by God, but take it this way. If someone’s name is Iblis, and he’s from who knows where, claiming that his name has an absolutely beautiful meaning in his language, sure sure whatever, but in our mind, wouldn’t we feel slightly uneasy of calling his name aloud?

Because we have the thought of iblis in our minds.

Same could be said to the Japanese. It’s not their fault that they are secretly thinking of you as the devil in their minds. Some things couldn’t be helped. You don’t want them to secretly wish you of being a true devil, don’t you?

And so, I’ve come to the conclusion, that if I were to name my own children, I wouldn’t just pick a name based on how good it sounded, but by the beautiful meaning behind the name as well. I wouldn’t care about the commonness of such names. Because it’s the meaning that matters the most.

Now, whenever I heard the name of my brother’s daughter, Zahra (flower), I’m reminded of a dainty, fragrant flower, blooming beautifully in the garden of roses.

Yeah I had no idea.

It just brings you to a whole different level.


I'll be going to Hajj tomorrow! :D

May Allah bless and accept our Hajj, amin.

So...enshallah see you next week my lovely blog!

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