Saturday, 30 March 2013

My Muslim name

There is a constant question I get asked here

"So what's your Muslim name?"

"It's Bonnie"

"No but you should have changed your name"

"There is not one single ayah or hadith to support that fact unless your name means something bad, as well as the fact my parents gave me this name and I want to honour that"

"How about I call you Khadijah"

"How about I call you Lucy. It's not nice to call someone else by something that's not your actual name"

"But you are married to an Arab, you should have a nice Arabic name"

"I may be married to an Arab but I am not one, I am a New-Zealander and I am proud of who I am. My husband did not marry me trying to change my racial heritage"

It's weird how so many people here believe that if you convert than you MUST change your name. I have not fought against so many culture and Islam clashes than I have here. Sometimes it's like they want to encourage me to become more of an Arab. I can't become more of something that I am not already to start with!

The abaya issue was the first one.

I don't like abayas and never have. I usually wore them to Eid or something like that. Now I wear a black one every time I leave the house, on my husbands request. But when I first moved here the sisters would say to me (because I would wear my maxi dresses and cardigans) that I should wear one so I can look more Egyptian and fit in. Again how can I look 'more' Egyptian?


And then today.......

Today we went visiting an Egyptian family, where there were others visiting as well. One of them was about to have a baby and I asked if she had brought a cot for him. BAD idea.

She told me that he would sleep with her until at least two or older. I said OK but she looked at me suspiciously and asked where my son slept and I told her that he slept in his own room, she looked shocked and asked how long he had slept in his room and I told her since he was three months old, she yelled at everyone to come and when they did proclaimed what I had done. I swear if they could have given me a dunces hat and put me in the corner then they would have. For the rest of the day I was the bad, evil western mother and they gave my son pats on the head and whispered reassuringly to him in Arabic.

Finally I had enough and told them "Look lady, the fact you want to sleep with your son until older than two is to me frankly a little creepy, but that is your culture and your choice and your son so it's not really any of my business. I need my own personal space which in not a concept to you but again that is my culture and my personal beliefs. We are not the same person and what's right for you is not always right for me"

It didn't go down well.

Most likely because they couldn't understand half my accent anyway and so the point was lost.

I quickly got out of there and on the way home I told my husband and he told me "Egyptian women are the best Mothers in the world but at least you take fantastic care of yourself and don't let yourself go"

Gee thanks honey.

Never mind the fact that I home school whilst all their children go to school and they get a ten hour break everyday! Until I sleep all night with my little man I just don't cut it I guess.

Seriously next time I am staying home and making cookies.

Speaking of cookies I have a new trick. I love to bake but today I just didn't have time as I had to spend all morning at the dentist and then we went visiting all afternoon and evening. So I went to the supermarket and found muffins, I then sat in the car took them out of there wrapping and squished and deformed them a little, put them on some ceramic plates I brought cheaply and wrapped them in plastic wrap. They so looked homemade and I saved face all at once. Of course if they had asked if I made them I would have told them the truth but no one did! My husband just shook his head at me and laughed. He knows me well.

Hope you are all having a nice holiday (those in the west) and for everyone else big hugs.



  1. As-salaamu-alaykum Bonnie

    Its interesting that you mention these cultural issues because here in South Africa people tend to confuse culture with Islam a lot and this just causes a whole lot of confusion. At one point I also believed that you had to change your name if you've converted, everyone here seems to believe that, it's like the first thing people are told about when they convert, which come to think of it, is very weird. But you rightly point out that this is not necessary if your name has a good meaning, I guess it should be left up to the person. The thing that is worrying about things like this is that it tends to push people away from Islam. There are many people here who believe that if they embrace Islam they will be giving away their culture and adopting another culture, and because so many Muslims in South Africa are of Indian decent, people have come to regard Islam as "an Indian religion", just as you are basically coming across people who believe that it is an "Arab religion". While its true that Islam began in Arabia, its a global religion and is actually culture free if people stick to the Quraan and Sunnah. We can connect with one another as Muslim sisters because of our common beliefs, but when culture comes in, it's a whole different ball game, and most times has nothing to do with Islam.

    I have personally found that cultural issues that people insist on holding on to just causes division and it makes people judgemental of each other and most times these things have nothing to do with Islam.

    In any case, you make your "encounter" with these women sound quite funny, I can almost picture them circling around talking about what type of mother you are. But I'm sure it really wasn't funny at the time. I think that different things work for different people and who are any of us to judge. You are constantly giving your best to your kids and all that matters is that they grow up as good human beings and servants of Allah. Everything else is rather insignificant when you look at the bigger picture.

    Until next time, Stay well and enjoy the long weekend.

  2. Salam alaykum Subhanaalah you came across people who have a serious case of lacking respect for other people's choices.
    I always find that no matter what regardless of our culture or race we women will always make another feel inadequate about how we do things differently. You must be a patient sister mashaAllah because after being circled and my space violated I would of flipped on way or another! Good on ya! lol

  3. I am glad you wrote something on the subect dear Bonnie, as I never understood properly why people had to change their name when converting. Now I know it's not an obligation and more of a custom.
    As for the judgement of other women, It's something I don't uderstand. Every mum knows what is best for her and her child. There is no rule in motherhood, or maybe just one love, love, love.
    You are kind Bonnie - you're right making cookies home seems a better idea!!

    Stay well my dear. xx

  4. Salam Bonnie, I am Egyptian and I am constantly being questioned and harassed by other Egyptian moms for not having my child sleep in the same room as me. They also do not like the fact that my children go to bed at 7pm, and have a set sleep schedule. Do not let the judgement get to you. I do not think Egyptian mothers are the best, they coddle and interfere way too much. There is nothing wrong with the western or eastern way of raising a child, it is whatever works best for the child and his family.

  5. Bonnie this is a good post and so are the comments. Actually, I enjoy reading all of your posts; however, when I learn something about Islam, I am most captivated. You,your readers, and the people you speak of prove that we are not all the same though we share certain beliefs. I am Christian and have had varying degrees of being a so-called "Good Christian" or not. The older I get (I'm 55, but still have teen-aged children), the more I realize that my commitment is to our Creator and not a bunch of rules that are not scriptual; that are more cultural.

    While I deeply respect anyone who is "truly" being guided by our Creator, I still question the treatment of women in all of society. Where is it written that we are not supposed to enjoy our lives, a gift from Him. Why do we spend so much time worrying about what other people think instead of what He thinks? Do we marry and give up ALL the things that are so special to us and about us, things gifted to us from our Creator?

    As you can tell, I am passionate about women being able to serve Him without being miserable.

    As far as the name, that's your call, and you've made it. :) You are Bonnie.

    When I married, I took my husband's last name, which is traditional, not scriptual. I was 36 at the time (an old bride :)), and liked my original last name. I only changed it because I wanted children and I wanted us to have the same last name. Will I advise my daughters to change theirs? Honestly, I don't know. What I do know is that I will continue to advise them to pray and seek the answers to all of life's issues.

    And lastly, your abaya... it makes me think of my own clothing. Compared to a lot of American women, I am considered a modest dresser, yet when I think of an abaya or Amish women, or very conservative Christian women, etc., I feel strange seeing, for example, my blog profile picture wearing a tank top, exposing my arms and shoulders. lol I wrote a post called, "Athletic Uniforms" inspired by watching the Olympics, where at the end, I wondered what women who cover most of their bodies think of those of us who don't. I'd love to hear your opinion or from one of your readers.

    I'm finished. :) Thanks for reading.