What’s In A reputation?
Both of you grew up primarily in North America with Jewish and Muslim first names. In what methods have been your names sources of pride or discomfort? As parents how did you and your partner decide to offer your kids Hebrew and Arabic names respectively? What are some naming customs and conventions in your respective religious and/or cultural traditions that formed the way you thought about your children’s names?
Or: I grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba within the 1970s and 80s; the nice Bobby Orr was a household identify in my hockey-crazed country. When youngsters teased me about my title (either with or without an anti-Semitic undertone), I’d sometimes (falsely) explain that I used to be named after the immortal #four. If I received to know a child better, sooner or later I would confess that or means “gentle” in Hebrew, and that I was born throughout Hanukkah, the “Festival of Lights.” If I really trusted that person, I’d share my full title: Or-Nistar, which suggests “Hidden Gentle,” alluding to God’s hidden function in the Hanukkah legend, and the Jewish mystical notion that there are divine “sparks” scattered all through creation. Whereas there have been certainly contexts by which I used to be comfortable and proud of my identify, I also struggled with it, significantly in the presence of non-Jewish or Jewish peers who thought that I used to be “too” Jewish: I wore a yarmulke and tzitzit (an undershirt with ritual fringes attached to the corners), observed Shabbat, and stored kosher.
One vital experience for me in embracing the particularistic parts of my identification was visiting my Italian friend Silvio’s home on the way home from soccer apply. Not solely was he not named Jack or Mike, however his mother spoke to him and his siblings in Italian, and their house, with crucifixes hanging on the walls, was usually full of the aroma of conventional Calabrian cuisine emanating from the kitchen. These sensory reminiscences have stayed with me for more than thirty years. Hanging out with Silvio (our high defenseman!) helped me develop a primary appreciation for cultural and religious range.
Wajahat: This resonates with me deeply even though I grew up within the sunny streets of the Bay Space, and wouldn’t know which end of a hockey stick to choose up! As you may think about, Wajahat was not the most popular of names; there have been no Disneyland keychains with my identify on it. My parents, immigrants from Pakistan, never cared about assimilation or what the “mainstream” (at all times code word for “White”) would suppose. Naming me was outsourced to my grandfather; the story goes that he sat down for late night prayers, opened the Quran, placed his finger on the page, seemed down and noticed the letter pronounced “wow” in Arabic. He had at all times favored the title Wajahat, which comes from the Arabic tri-letter root waji, which means “one of fine face,” or “esteemed.” And, thus, I was named.
Evidently, not all of my classmates have been sort to me: Some of my “favourite” nicknames have been Watcha-want? Waja-hot, Whatchamacallit, and better of all, Waja-The-Hut. As soon as I requested my mother if I could change my identify to Wilbur or Walter. With the blunt effectivity of a katana blade, she checked out me with piercing eyes and said, “No.”
Now that we have shared a few of our own childhood trials and tribulations–what kind of “ache” did you inflict in your youngsters in naming them?
Or: When my wife and that i learned that we have been having twins, we instinctively began to discover Hebrew names; we truly did not consider any English ones. Residing in a progressive, multicultural neighborhood, in a big metropolis with a vibrant and properly-established Jewish community, we did not feel any concern or discomfort. In reality, a lot of our pals–each Jewish and non-Jewish–made comparable choices, expressing their ethnic and religious identities and commitments by the names they selected for his or her youngsters.
Following two longstanding Jewish customs, in naming our twins we sought both to honor exemplary deceased or older relatives, and to express one thing of the distinctive experience of bringing these particular souls into the world. We chose the primary names Ma’ayan (“Wellspring”) and Aviv (“Springtime”), which pay homage to an amazing-aunt and nice-grandfather through the first letter of every name (the Hebrew letters mem and aleph). The names additionally articulate something of the deep gratitude and joy we felt for the stream of blessing we experienced within the spring of 2006, having reached a vital stage in my wife’s pregnancy, following several rounds of fertility treatments. (Believe it or not, we only realized that we had named them each “Spring” in English after we selected the Hebrew names!)
Because it turns out, our daughter is one in all three girls named Ma’ayan in her Jewish day school class of 20. My son attends a public college, where his identify is unusual, however each youngsters each report that they principally like their names, and only often feel uncomfortable when people cannot easily pronounce them. I do not assume both of them has experienced anti-Semitism immediately; I pray this does not change given the recent uptick in hate crimes in our nation.
Wajahat, I notice that this could also be fairly totally different from your expertise in our publish-9/eleven milieu, and especially during the last several months. How did you and your wife navigate naming your kids? To what extent did you draw on Muslim tradition on this process?
Wajahat: It is much more dangerous to be a Muslim child at the moment than when I was rising up as an overweight kid with lentil stains on his shirt on the imply streets of Fremont, California. I joke that the worst thing I used to be called rising up was “Gandhi”. In 2016, we are witnessing a gorgeous rise in anti-Muslim bullying at colleges, aimed notably best shirts to run in at Muslim women who wear hijab and kids of color. Many young mother and father select “secure” Muslim names to guard their youngsters from discrimination. The popular boys’ names embody “Adam” and “Raiyan,” which sounds so much like Ryan; for women, it’s “Laila” or “Sophia.” These names are lovely, and I do not judge any parent eager to make their kid’s life easier. However it gnaws at me that individuals really feel compelled to betray their history and religious traditions to guard their youngsters, who should experience the safety and freedom to which every little one should be entitled to on this country.
We made a deliberate resolution to give our children robust Muslim names rooted in vital religious narratives. We chose Ibrahim for my two-12 months-outdated son; it is the Arabic version of Abraham. There’s a powerful story in the Quran about Ibrahim’s enemies throwing him into the hearth as a punishment for destroying their idols, but Allah commands the fires to cool down. Naming our son was a type of prayer that the fires of hatred and violence can be cooled by and for him and his technology.
Our daughter, who is about 3 months outdated and largely cheeks, is named Nusayba (“applicable” or “fitting”). She is named after a well-known companion of the Prophet Muhammad who gave water and aid to fallen soldiers, and protected the Prophet, suffering a number of wounds in the method. She was considered one of solely two ladies who gave their allegiance on to the Prophet Muhammad and never by one of his companions, and prompted the revelation of a verse in regards to the significance of each women and males in Islam. Our hope is that our woman will probably be a superb and brave girl who helps these in want, and can fight for equality and justice.
Although the multisyllabic, “ethnic” names we have given our children might subject them to some scrutiny, raised eyebrows, and playground teasing, we consider they will dwell by means of it and thrive. It is a small price to pay to uphold your own culture and religion, the prayers of your parents, and the memories and hopes of your ancestors.
Wajahat Ali is a journalist, author, lawyer, an award-profitable playwright, a Television host, and a consultant for the U.S. State Department. As Artistic Director of Affinis Labs, he works to create social entrepreneurship initiatives which have a positive affect for marginalized communities, and to empower social entrepreneurs, young leaders, creatives, and communities to give you revolutionary options to deal with world issues.
Rabbi Or Rose is the founding Director of the Miller Heart for lnterreligious Studying & Management of Hebrew School . Rabbi Rose is the writer or editor of many articles and books, together with the forthcoming anthology, From Text to Life: Religious Resources for Interreligious Engagement (co-editor, Orbis, 2017), and Speaking Torah: Spiritual Teachings from Around the Maggie’s Table (co-editor, Jewish Lights, 2013). He additionally serves as a publisher of the Journal of Interreligious Studies, and is the creator of the weekly weblog sequence “Seventy Faces of Torah,” and co-creator of the monthly sequence “Can We Speak: A Jewish-Muslim Dialog,” both appearing on the Huffington Publish.
“Can We Talk?” is a venture of the Miller Heart for lnterreligious Learning & Management of Hebrew College in Newton, MA, and the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Research in Baltimore, MD. This collection gives a context for public dialogue amongst Jewish and Muslim intellectuals and community leaders on a broad range of matters-religious, cultural, civic, and political-modeling constructive personal engagement across our communities. Every month, we function a new dialog between one Jewish and one Muslim author on a delegated topic.