Sunday, November 28, 2010

Non-Arab Arabs

So while Katrina Kaif looks much better saying it, I also have to say it.

"What's my name?"

It's not Misbah, Misba, or *horror* Al Misbah.


I hate it when people come to me and say "Why do you spell your name as Mezba, it should be pronounced as Misbah."

"Why," I will ask, knowing the reply.

"Well, it's really 'mis' in Arabic, not 'mez', so you name should be-"

IN CASE YOU ARE TOO DUMB TO NOTICE OR SEE BEYOND YOUR BEARD this is the English language and I am spelling my name in English and I will spell it the Way I Want It.

Imagine a guy name Paul having this conversation.

"Sorry, it's actually 'Ball' in Arabic and not 'Paul' as we don't have a 'P' sound so you should spell your name as 'Ball' really."

Last time I checked, you spell people's names the way they want it to be spelt and pronounce it the way they want it to be pronounced.

Muslims from the subcontinent (India-Pakistan-Bangladesh) all suffer from an inferiority complex where they want to be very Arab. I don't know why, an Arab isn't much better than a non-Arab (I didn't say it, the Prophet did). Yet, in their zeal to be "more Muslim" they will give every kid an Arabic name. This 'zeal' is most evident in Pakistan.

In Bangladesh, surprisingly, we still have few stalwarts who will give their children Bengali names. They are not Hindu, nor Muslim, but Bengali names. Names that have some good meaning, or is cultural.

And then the problem starts when they meet these non-Arab Arabs.

"Why is your name Mala? That's such a Hindu name."

"Why is your name Moushumee? OMG that is SUCH a Hindu name."

The last from a guy called Sameer who puts "Sam" on his resume.

No, it's not a Hindu name. Broaden your horizons a bit. Sheesh.

One should carry a placard.

"Hi, My name is Moushumee and I am NOT a Hindu."



luckyfatima said...

Yes, seriously annoying for ppl to tell you how to pronounce YOUR name.

I noticed a lot of Bangalis have a "Muslim" proper name but an indigenous nickname...which I think is GREAT!

I put "Muslim" in quotations there, cuz there is no such thing as a Muslim name obviously, but I meant like Persio-Arabic or Turkic origin names, which are commonly thought of as Muslim names.

People need to mind their own beezwax more, for sure.

Nadia said...

LOL @ Al Misbah! :D

True story: the vegetable vendor that frequents our street in Karachi named one of his sons, "bin Laden". My cousin laughed out loud, telling him that that by adding "bin" he's calling his son Laden's son. Of course, the vegetable vendor didn't agree and thinks it's a beautiful Arabic name.

mezba said...

@Luckyfatima, yep - nicknames are Bengali culture! Everyone has them and sometimes if you don't know a person's proper name it's a tough situation.

True story: we all knew this guy by his nick name, and he told us to get to his place, we go in, but we can't buzz him for entry into the building because none of us knows his real "proper" name, which is listed next to the buzzer! So we had to call him lol.

@Nadia, haha rofl.

Reminds me of this guy in our village (long long time ago) who found an Arabic newspaper article and framed it in his room. When my dad dropped in, the guy proudly showed it to us as something Islamic.

It was a movie review for Dirty Dancing!

Muslim Girl said...

Wow that must get quite annoying.
I sometimes have to repeat my name a few times to people bc I don't think too many have heard it before, but I've never had to deal with someone telling me what's right/wrong/pronunciation etc.

That would get under my skin.

mystic-soul said...

You are so pissed!!!

(BTW enlighten me on your name Mezba)

Farah said...

Great post. Agree 100% !

Tauqeer said...

It is reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "On the Day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and by your fathers' names, so give yourselves good names." (Hadith Abu Dawud)

They do not necessarily have to be of Arabic, but if it is, then it makes sense to keep it as close as its origin. Because 'good name' can only be a good name, if it is written/called/pronounced in its authentic structure.

You can refer to the link below for details:

Azra S. said...

Hahaha... I was once interrogated at Cairo Airport for having an "Arab" name but not being 100% Arabian...

Even funnier was how they questioned my Mom (who has a Christian Surname like many of the Muslims born here in SA)... so they asked her why her surname was Matthews* when she had an Arabic name and then wanted to know if she could speak arabic and when she said "No", they wanted to know how can she have an Arabic name when she doesn't speak Arabic. I was ROTF obviously and temporary resigned myself to the very real possibility that I would never see the pyramids (we did eventually).

I don't see the big issue... a name is a name. So what. I know people with supposedly "great" names and they're all assholes. So what difference does it make? (Pardon my french).

Anyways, I wish most of these nit-shit-picking *Muslims* would focus their efforts on more pressing issues instead of sitting around and bickering like a bunch of school-girls.

*Not her real surname... but something similar :)

Lat said...

Really enjoyed this post! I've not heard of your name before and so I didn't know it was a Muslim name :) Similarly I didn't know why my father had a weird name until I was old enough to know :)

Many Malays have names peculiar to their race togther with a Muslim name like Nur Hazlinda.I find that beautiful.I've also heard from my friend whose husband was from Bangladesh,that muslim girls have names like Pinky there! I find that very cute!

'liya said...

I hate it when other Muslims say "AWlia" instead of "ALEEya".. then they have the nerve to say that I say it wrong just because the arabic way is Awlia. Ridiculous! My parents named me Aleeeya and I like that very much thank you :)

Abid said...

So true about the inferiority complex....

Abid said...

So true about the inferiority complex....

azlin said...

having a child of mix parentage, my logic was

and i refused to put bin for him.

Musa said...

What peeves me is when people believe that nonIslamic Arabic names like Laila, Raad, Basem, are much better than normal Bengali names.
Tell them the Arabic names arent necessarily Islamic. they claim they "sound more Islamic".
Btw, not all Bengalis have nicknames; I dont, and neither does half my family
And even if its Bengali culture, I find it a bit concerning that people think Foltu, Montu, Chulu, Lablu are wonderful names....

Dave said...

Names can certainly create a lot of problems for people... just ask Mr B. Hussein Obama, I am sure he would agree...

Aisha said...

Yes- that happens with me and Waleed all the time- its so annoying. Kudos for saying so!

mezba said...

@Muslim Girl, oh and it is always so pretentious. Like, they are personally insulted that MY name is spelt "wrong" in "their" language (which is Arabic, even though they are not Arab).

No wonder our community is in such a mess over trivial details!

@Mystic-soul, Mezba means light. If used in a religious context it means guidance.

@Farah, thanks.

@Tauqeer, when I write it in Arabic I will be sure to write it the way its spelt in Arabic. Which coincidentally is the way I do spell it (meem-swaad-etc.).

But in English it can be any spelling as long as its near enough. I grew up with my spelling and I like it.

@Azra, I think in our culture (especially desi culture) people are very close minded and not exposed to other cultures a lot (except Western via Hollywood). They think only their culture is Islamic and everything else not Islamic.

For example Pakistanis think Bengalis by wearing a bindi or a sari is imitating a Hindu culture, whereas it's just culture.

Similarly many brown people are shocked to see South African or Bosnian weddings where the bride is dressed in white, saying "isn't that a Christian thing?" (and in Bosnian weddings they kiss!)

I am really shocked by the utter ignorance of some desi aunties. Actually, not shocked, plain tired of it all. Next time I hear one ignorant comment from that bunch something either terrible exciting or terrible scandal worthy should occur :-D

@Lat, the captain of Pakistan cricket team is now Misbah (spelt the "Pakistani" way hehe).

When I was in Malaysia I loved hearing the native names, and then finding out they were Muslim.

There's a lot to love about Malaysia - it's a country I truly admire.

@Liya, awww.. liya.... lol...sorry couldn't resist! :-)

Yes I agree 100%.

My parents named me Mezba and I like that very much thank you :)

@Abid, isn't it.

@Azlin, it appears your comment got cut off!

@Musa, "sounding" more Islamic is apparently better than being more Islamic, don't you know! :-)

I find it a bit concerning that people think Foltu, Montu, Chulu, Lablu are wonderful names...

hahaha you just named some of my uncles!

@Dave, lol I think the USA deserves to be a case study on its own.

@Aisha, one should have the freedom to spell one's own name! one would think...!

Musa said...

No offence intended, 2 of the names are my uncles as well :)

mezba said...

@Musa, none taken.

Anonymous said...

My name is actually more traditional/cultural than Islamic if you ask me. It's written differently but pronounced completely differently!!! :D sf

mezba said...

@Sf, then the desi aunties would be completely flummoxed!

Brishti said...

My sister's name is Raynooka, and she gets the "but isn't it a hindi name..." all the time! This lady actually cannot to save her life say Raynooka, so she always calls her Ronika. How hilarious but bogus is that?

mezba said...

@Brishti, that's a very nice name!

Too bad other people have to try and mangle it up!

youngMuslimah said...

If you have an arabic or and Isamic name it sounds better the way it's meant to be. Now if you have a desi name, pronounce it the way you like.

mezba said...

@youngMuslimah, there is no such thing as an "Islamic" name.

youngMuslimah said...

i mean names after the Prophets, sahabas and sahabiyats. I admit, i cringe everytime ppl pronounce those names in a desi way.

mezba said...

@youngMuslimah, Allah has said the difference of languages and our diversity are a blessing, so I don't see it as a problem if people pronounce names etc. in a different fashion. In Arabia it's Mohammad and in Turkey it's Mahomet - to me it doesn't matter both are correct.

Tauqeer said...

@Mezba: But in Quran it is "محمد", if someone is able to read it, he would write 'Muhammad or Mohammad" in English.

But then it doesn't matter how it is written in a particular language, as long as it is pronounced "محمد" (P.B.U.H)

mezba said...

@Tauqeer, if he is talking about the Prophet (pbuh), sure then. But if he is naming himself or some other person, it can be their local language.

Even Muhammad himself wasn't so uptight about it - when Ali (R) was signing the treaty of Hudaibiya the Quraish objected to Muhammad Rasool Allah and he told Ali to cancel it, and Ali wouldn't, so he asked Ali to show him the part (Prophet was illiterate) and crossed it out himself, and told Ali to right Muhammad son of Abdullah.

I think today in Islam we take things much more seriously for some reason.

mezba said...

And what is needed to be taken seriously, isn't.

Musa said...

Sadly, there are many Muslim who are convinced Arab cuklture is better, and so you will alwasy see this attitude. I wasnt aware of this till recently, but some people quote scholars like Ibn Taymiyyah as confirming Arabs are better:

Shiekh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (ra) said:

“Know that the Ahaadith (that show) the superiority of Quraish and then the superiority of Bani Haashim are numerous and this is not the place (to gather all of them) but they also prove this (superiority of the Arab over Non-Arabs).

And this is due to the fact that the relationship of Quraish to the Arabs is just like the relationship of the Arabs to the rest of the people (i.e. Quraishites are superior to Non-Quraishites and the Arabs are superior to Non-Arabs). Verily Allah the Most High has designated the Arabs and their language with ‘Ahkaam’ that are peculiar and unique.

And then He preferred Quraish over the rest of the Arabs in what He has given them of prophecy and other than that from the ‘Khasaais’ (unique and peculiar qualities)”. Iqtidaa As-Siraat-il-Mustaqeem 2/431

“…And we know the rights of the Arabs and (we know) their VIRTUE and their PRECEDENCE (in the Deen) and we love them because of the Hadith of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him): “Loving the Arabs is from Emaan and hating them is hypocrisy”.

mezba said...

@Musa, this flies in the face of what the Prophet himself said in his last sermon.

I love it how some people want to be more pious than the Prophet.

Musa said...

I know; I would have ignored it, as I ignore rants from neocons, but I was debating with someone, who like some Muslims, say "if a learned scholar like xxx said that, it must be true, he knew so much about Islam" I was very frustrated...

mezba said...

@Musa, and then when you point out what the Prophet said they would be like "we are ordinary people do you think we know better than scholars" or they would say "if there is some doubt it's better to avoid"...

Logic is of course alien to them.