What’s in a name?

Assalaamu alaikum everyone!

I’m starting this blog in order to provide everyone a small corner of the internet in which to listen, learn, and understand the life of an American Muslim through my personal experiences, thoughts, and perceptions. I don’t want to bore anyone with a long introductory post, so the main idea I want to convey before I get into things is that I am not a scholar on Islam. I have not memorized the Qur’an, I have not studied at an Islamic institution, nor received any sort of formal education from Islamic sources. What I have learned is from reading books, attending lectures, and asking questions from college professors, friends, and scholars of Islam. My words that you read here are purely my interpretations, perspectives, and opinions on what I have encountered – whether politics, religion, or other life situations.

Moving past the boring disclaimers necessary in the internet age, I want to let you all know a little bit about me and my progression in life. There are three names used regularly for me, and I want to use those to tell you a bit about my life. So, what’s in a name? Names are important. Family names often identify your point of origin, your nationality, ethnicity, or even simply connect you to your parents. The importance of these names is captured in the Qur’an:

Call them by [the names of] their fathers; it is more just in the sight of Allah . But if you do not know their fathers – then they are [still] your brothers in religion and those entrusted to you. And there is no blame upon you for that in which you have erred but [only for] what your hearts intended. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. Al-Ahzab 33:5

Amanda.

Amanda is my given name; my birth name; the first gift that my parents ever gave me. Linguistically, it means “worthy of love”. Growing up, I actually hated my name. It wasn’t until I reached university that I realized that my name suits me perfectly. It doesn’t have any complicated letters in it, and ignoring varying accents, I have never encountered someone in all of my travels who couldn’t pronounce it. Being “worthy” of love is a mission that I’ve set off on. My purpose on this planet is to educate and promote tolerance, understanding, and love of each individual. In showing our love to the creations of God, we are in turn showing our love for him. This is what our life should be about – acting in a manner that enhances the love of people around us. Many of my close friends use my “Muslim name” as an endearing nickname, but I will continue introducing myself to new people as “Amanda” for the rest of my life. Every single one of the Sahaba was technically a convert to Islam – so in the manner that their names became “Muslim names”, insha’Allah mine will too.

Fatima.

This is my “Muslim” name. It came by chance, not by choosing. This name was also given to me, although not by my parents. While I fully reject the idea that converts to Islam have to take a “Muslim” name, due to a combination of hadiths and simple logic, I do think that names are given for a reason. Fatima, the daughter of Mohammad (pbuh), was an incredible example of love and strength. There are countless narrations that express the her eagerness to learn, willingness to education, and strength in the face of adversity. On another train of thought – I love the name Fatima due to its ability to cross the borders of sectarianism. Fatima isn’t a Sunni name, nor is it a Shia name. Not only that, it isn’t even solely a Muslim name – but is common in Christianity as well. As my purpose in life is to spread understanding, I out-rightly reject sectarianism at its core. We, as believers, have a larger struggle on our hands than against each other. A house divided will fall.

Girlwithafacee.

Yes, with two “e”s. I mulled over the use of using this name for this blog, and decided it was not only okay, but necessary. This name has been with me through life transformations, and even its own meaning has transformed. Since the days that AOL Instant Messenger was all the rage, I have used girlwithafacee. It was born of a time when, as a middle schooler sitting in the stands at a high school football game, one of the older kids was running around with a sign that said “FACE!” on it. He would randomly point people out, shouting, “hey! You with the face!” As I’ve grown older, and especially after donning the hijab, “girl with a face” has taken on a new meaning, as the majority of people I encounter in my life ONLY see my face. For me, it has now taken on a message of feminism, through both the strength I see in hijab itself, but also the way that women are often reduced to their physical appearance (but I’ll save that rant for its own post).

In any case, it is a pleasure to meet you all, and I look forward to hearing your comments and requests for topics. Don’t forget to follow me and pass this blog onto your friends if you find it interesting!

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3 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

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