There are many questions that you are asked when pregnant but one of the most common is “have you chosen a name?” Some people choose to share their chosen name very early on and like to refer to their bundle of joy by their given name. Others prefer to keep it secret and build the anticipation till the day the baby is born. For some, the name is difficult to decide upon until they see their beautiful baby in the flesh. Everyone is different and choosing the name is such a personal journey between couples and holds a different sense of significance to everyone.
One of the first duties of a Muslim parent is selecting a name for their new-born baby it is held in high esteem and given great importance. Names are felt to hold the identity for individuals and are worn, like an adornment, in this life and the next. Names can also indicate the religion that a person belongs to and should make him/her feel like a part of that faith. In Islam it is felt that a name with a righteous meaning will bring great blessing to the child throughout his/her life. The Prophet [PBUH] recommended that the most beautiful names are those which give servitude or praise to Allah.
When we found out that we were having a baby girl we knew straight away what we would call her- this was mainly due to the fact that my husband had always said he would like to name his first born (if it was a girl) after his mother. In that sense the name was pre decided and there was little room for negotiation! Initially, I wasn’t sure, it wasn’t my preferred name and I worried about the reaction of others and any playground name calling that might happen with it being such a strong Islamic name and so ‘foreign’ sounding in Western society. I also knew that many of my non-Muslim friends and family wouldn’t like it and so it has felt difficult to feel confident and proud with our decision. But as with everything, I took it back to God, I reflected on my feelings and I talked with my husband about why this name was so important. It was then that I saw the true beauty of the name and the depth of the meaning it would hold for us. It made me think about how important choosing a name is in Islam and how sentimental and respectful it becomes to name a child after a beloved family member.
Sadly, I never had the opportunity to meet my mother in law, she passed away a few years before my husband and I even met – but she has touched my heart through the gift of her son and I am grateful to her for the wonderful person that she raised. My husband’s father also passed away when he was very young and as the oldest man in the family, my husband assumed the role of provider by leaving school at the age of 12 and starting work as a street vendor. He talks about his mother very fondly and how he never wanted her to worry about money because she was so good at ‘being mum.’ She did not have an education and had dedicated her life to her family – my husband did not want her to feel she had to give this up by going out to work, so he supported her and his siblings. He did everything that he could to comfort and care for her.
He tells me that his mother was central to their whole family; she was the heart that kept it beating and the softest soul. She took people in when they needed help; she cooked the most amazing food and welcomed everyone to her home with an openness and warmth that nurtured even the hardest of hearts. My husband spent years buying, selling, setting up a small shop, training to be a butcher- he did whatever it took to help his mother. But one day she decided to ‘set him free’ she didn’t want this life for him, as a family they had suffered a great deal of loss and had grown up in a country that had its guts ripped from within. She wanted more for her son, she saw the sacrifices he had made for her and she wanted to make up for that. So she told him to leave and go to Europe, to make a better life and future for himself, and as he always did, he honoured his mother’s wishes. A short time after he left, she passed away. He was devastated. I remember at our wedding celebration her sisters saw me a cried, they said they knew how much my mother in law would have wanted to be there and to meet me. Part of my dowry for our wedding was a ring that his mother left in her will to be given to the wife of her beloved son. I treasure that gift more than you could know, without ever knowing her; she is still a precious gem to me.
So we will name our baby girl after this wonderful woman and she will grow up knowing the beautiful characteristics of her blessed grandmother, May her soul rest in the tranquil gardens of paradise and stay they forever In Sha Allah.
We will call our daughter Fatima.
But this name also has great significance in Islam and this makes the choice even more poignant for me. The daughter of the last and final messenger [PBUH] conceived from the fruits of paradise, Fatima was a special person before she was even born. The prophet Muhammad [PBUH] says:
“Before she was conceived the arch angel Gabriel came down from the heavens with a plate containing a cluster of dates and a bunch of grapes ordering me to eat them. After I ate them I was ordered to go to Khadija and Fatima was conceived from the fruits of paradise.”
When Fatima was born she fell to the ground in a position of prostration and her beautiful face held a brightness that illuminated the skies. For that reason she was also named ‘Al Zahra’ the lady of light. Fatima was a woman of honesty and sincerity, believing in all commands of Allah and the prophet [PBUH] she never doubted them.
Fatima and her father had the most powerful and beautiful relationship. Ayisha said:
“Never have I seen anyone resembling the prophet of Allah, in his way of speaking and talking than Fatima.”
As much as the prophet loved his daughter Fatima, she loved him back and when his wife, Khadija, passed away, Fatima felt she had to give even more support to her father. With loving tenderness she devoted herself to looking after his every need. She was so concerned with his welfare she came to be called Umm Abi-ha, the mother of her father. She provided him with solace and comfort during times of trial, difficulty and crisis.
As women we should all strive to like Fatima because she was closest in character to our beloved prophet [PBUH.]
So can you see the connection? I really feel that Fatima the daughter of the prophet was to her father what my husband was to his mother. And I am sure my own little lady of light will love her papa with a heart so full and pure that he will feel the comfort of his own mother within her.
Fatima is so much more than just a name. She is the roots of our faith; she is the soul of the last generation, she is hope, she is gentility, she is love and more than all of this, she is our future.