May 6, 2014


The recent court decision that upheld the conviction of an Indonesian Christian named Halimah for involving in closer proximity with a stranger (khalwah) at a reflexology center in Penang has caused some discomfort among the already confused Malaysian public.The authorities might have apprehended her presuming her "Muslim" name. I cannot blame them for doing so for many officials only look into the exterior appearance and do not conduct a thorough investigation into the matter. It so happened that a friend of mine went with his wife to verify some counterfeit notes at the Central Bank and instead of investigating the matter they called the police and had both of handcuffed and sent to the police station. Later they came to know that the couples are academics in institutions of higher learning. The officer who was instrumental in their handcuffing was looking at the couple for their simple dressing and though the jacket he was wearing was like that of a money changer. It is necessary for these officers to look beyond the exterior. They are still in the stage of judging the book by its cover. This could also explain the reason as to why they lost the MH370 as well. They might be looking for the wrong person and let in those sinister criminals to board the plane thinking that they dressed smartly.

The case of Halimah is nothing new. In fact there are many in the Latin America and the descendant of the Spanish inquisition have their Arabic sounding name. It is common to find names like Omar, Fatima, Latifah, Shakirah and they are staunch Christians. Even there is a church named as "Church of Lady Fatima" at Brickfield (Kuala Lumpur). There was even a case where a foreign Muslim went to perform his midday prayer at a Gurudwara Sahib (Sikh place of worship) thinking that the domed shaped building is a masjid and found that there are no place for taking ablution and he went to the toilet to take his ablution and performed his prayer there. The guard chased him out. This is the problem with Muslims that they are fixated with symbols. The name of Halima is a symbolic Muslim name, but that does not make her Muslim. So are those Muslims with Indonesian-Javanese name that does not make them non-Muslims. I even listened to the beautiful recitation of an Indonesian Qari (Qur'an reciter) by the name of Muhammad Krishna.

But then to allow such a flexibility in naming a Muslim as such is so embarrassing that when an Indian convert to Islam is named as Muhammad Chokkalingam Abdullah to emphasize his Hindu originality without giving much thought to the meaning of the name. I think we should do away with this discriminatory policy even though it was done with a purpose of identifying the ethnic origin. The Prophet did change the meaning of names which he found objectionable and vulgar. He too changed the name from Abu Hakam (Father of Wisdom) to Abu Jahl (Father of Ignorance).

The argument for giving good names to children is that they will become embodiment of the meaning of the name given. But when we look around there are many with beautiful names but who do not display the quality and meaning captured in the name. That is why I found that there are many who have been named with names like Chokkalingam are highly qualified and successful (at least in the worldly sense) and those with the name starting with Abdul (servant or slave) have become enslaved. There is a need to study the phenomena of meaning of a name and the psychological impact on the personality of those with such names.

The over emphasis on the Muslim sounding names has not benefited Muslims particularly after the American-sponsored terrorist witch-hunt that victimized innocent Muslims for having an "Abdul" or "Muhammad" as their name. Even some having "Bin" had to throw it into the bin. What is your thoughts on this?


No comments:

Post a Comment