Saturday, May 3, 2008

What's In A Name?

The naming of a newborn baby, especially if he or she is the parents' firstborn or the grandparents' first grandchild, is always a hassle. Each new mom or dad has her or his own favourite name to begin with.

Then there is this unwritten "obligation" that the grandparents should be given a say, or that the name/names of paternal/maternal grandmas/grandpas be incorporated into that of the poor, yet-unnamed child.

Muslims usually opt for established Arabic names; those with "good" meanings such as Najmi (the light of my life), Tariq (the star of dawn), Hasna (the beautiful one), or Sarah (the name of Prophet Abraham's wife), to quote but a few.

They say hope springs eternal and that all parents live in hope. No one can tell if Najmi, that light of his parents' life, might just turn out to be their cross to bear, or that Tariq, the proclaimed star of dawn, eventually becomes the most difficult member of the family to be awakened for dawn prayers (if fact, he may well arrive home from all-night-partying at the break of dawn!)

Some parents, especially modern ones, have departed from this traditional mould by naming their offsprings after celebrities or anything at all that takes their fancy. For example, at the height of gymnast Nadia Commaneci's popularity, many little girls were named after her.

During my childhood, my mother had two friends who were sisters. Their names? Sharifah London and Sharifah Azzah Apple. As a child, it was beyond me as to why these two lovely ladies had such strange, unorthodox names. I later learned that their father had become anglocised after spending years in the UK.

Personally, I had stuck to tradition in naming my children. All four bear Arabic names, with lovely meanings, although the "Star of The Faith" is now not exactly a beacon of piety and Miss "Perfection" definitely is eons away from Utopia...


ihaveissues said...

sharifah azzah apple is my grandma. She's a really great woman i tell you. :)

Kamaliah At-Tarawis said...

hi there!

thank you for responding to my blog. I read your entry about your dear grandma - my condolence on her demise. Alfatihah.

I never had the opportunity of knowing her, but I remember her sister Sharifah London quite well. she was married to En Yassin, one of the senior Malay administrators at the Bukit Besi iron mine way back in the 60s. Their 3 children (your cousins obviously) were schoolmates and good friends of my sisters. I know that Sharifah London lives in Kuala Terengganu and if you see her, please sampaikan my salam. Tell her I am the daughter of Pn Nor Zaliha. I think she would remember.