Thursday, December 13, 2007


It’s the name my parents gave me, and by which my family calls me. The name on my cubicle wall and the name I sign on my homework, exams, essays and checks. The name in the mobile phone contact lists of all my friends, the name in my grandmother’s address book. The name on my driver’s license, the name on my bank card. The name of a file on my best friend’s computer, with pictures, videos, and short notes and poems I’ve sent. It’s the name my nieces shout when they hug me around the waist, and the introduction called before I walk on stage. It’s the name I hear on my fiancé’s lips to heighten the anticipation of my wedding day. It’s my name. Amy. Don’t ask if I am going to change it, I’ve been over two years since I embraced Islam, and still have no need for a new name with a taa marbuta to make me a Muslimah. I simply declare that I bear witness, and I do with all my heart, that there is no god except Allah and Muhammad is His messenger.

I cling to my short and simple name, for neither exceptionality nor practicality, but simply out of choice and the absence of a reason to change it. So when I am asked for my name I give it: Amy. Should I hear, "Your Muslim name, dear" as if I would respond differently, then I need only affirm, "That is my name."

There you have it. My name is Amy and I am from North Carolina. From home-made ice cream and sweet tea back porch cook-outs. From pickled steaks and fresh tomatoes, lazy afternoons and muddy-bottomed swimming holes. The last 24 years have been a blast, but I’m ready to make my escape. I’ll turn in pine tree forests for sandy dry deserts, cute pink bikinis for flowing black abayas, and baseball caps for headscarves and face veils. I’m ready to cross an ocean and a continent, to transplant to the Magic Kingdom, the Land of Sand, the Arabian Peninsula, the Land of Islam. I’m ready, just as soon as I acquire the peskiest of paperwork, 6 years in the making: bachelor’s of science in electrical engineering. For now I’m stuck reading flow charts instead of ahadith and protocols instead of fiqh. While drying out in the desert of dunya, my heart aches to study Islam, just waiting to be quenched by the ocean of Qur’an.

An engineer by training, writing failed to strike my fancy until I entered the blogosphere with a few months of Islam behind me. A year later I realized I had something worth saying, worth reading, worth blogging so I write it down and expose it to the criticism of the world here on my blog. And thus my alias: as ‘Abu Hanifa’ was not a true kunya for an Islamic scholar, neither is ‘Ibnat al-Hidayah’ a true name, but rather a metaphorical one. Daughter of Guidance, of Hidayah from Allah subhaanah wa ta’ala, as I feel I have been guided through the Qur’an, a Book of Wisdom from the Most Merciful. And from that side shows my other identity: my name is Amy, but who I am is a Musilmah, one who submits to the will of her Lord and follows his guidance.

As-salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuh


alajnabiya said...

Assalaamu 'alaikum,

I can understand why some converts choose to change their names, but I made the same choice as you did. My name is Carol, and growing up I thought that it was such a boring, ordinary name. I wanted something more exotic. But when I became Muslim, I decided to keep it. It seemed like an unnecessary slight to my parents. They already felt hurt that I had rejected their way of life, their food, their way of dress, and their holidays. So if there was no Islamic reason why I should change the name they so carefully chose for me when I was born, why should I? The Prophet (SAWS) only told people to change their names if they had something un-Islamic about them. InshaAllah, I hope someday there will be more Muslimahs named Carol and Amy. I have already met a couple Carols and I think one other Amy. And the funny thing is that, now that I live in the middle east, I now have the cool exotic name I always wanted!

Anonymous said...

As-Salaamu 'alaikum,

As for myself, I simply Arabised my old middle name (Joseph/Yusuf) but I still call myself Matthew when not among Muslims. My blog intro page gives both names.

As far as I know there's nothing wrong with the name Amy; it is an Anglicisation of the French name Aimée which means Beloved or, in Arabic, Habiba.

Amy said...

Wa alaikum as-salaam Al Ajnabiya (aka Carol!)

I realize now that my post might have seemed slightly offensive to those who chose to change their names, and that wasn't my intent.

But my name is quite simply alright as it is. Like you, I thought my name was boring growing up, and wanted something more exotic. (It's also too short to make a decent userID!) But among Muslims, and as I am planning to move too, my name will be more of a rarity!

Amy said...

Wa alaikum as-salaam Indigo Jo

Like I said above, it didn't mean to insult people who change their names. If my name were Joseph I might even change it to be Yusuf but to go from Amy to Habiba... eh... no. You're right that's there's not really anything wrong with it so why change it? Exactly. Thanks for commenting!

brnaeem said...

AA- Amy,

Forget Arabizing your name, why not Urdu-ize it?! Ammi in urdu means mother (Ummi in Arabic means the same, but that's too much a stretch from Amy).

So, what you say Ammi? :-)

Ibn Abd-el-Shafy said...

"From home-made ice cream and sweet tea back porch cook-outs. From pickled steaks and fresh tomatoes, lazy afternoons and muddy-bottomed swimming holes."

You're making me homesick. And I'm from California for crying out loud.

Wow... you sure brought up some old feelings I thought I'd buried. Tread carefully.

Let's sit on a porch together someday inshaa-Allaah.

Accord said...

Dear Amy,
Salam Alaykum.

I believe that Allah guided you to his mercy by opening your heart to the light of islam. But I'm troubled by one thing. You mentioned that you're coming to visit Saudi Arabia. Well, I'm asking you this as a Saudi brother.

Please, please, please, don't come with high expectations. Because I believe that then you'll be disappointed. Saudi Arabia now is much more like any other country in the world in relation to the global franchise brands all over the place and a lot of fancy cars in the streets. But, in relation to islam, you're gonna see very little of moderate islam (pure islam). Here (in Saudi Arabia), our islam was shadwoed by centuries of tribal traditions, extreme intrepretations of islam and a long history of bad attitude toward the non-arabs.

I don't care if you hated Saudi Arabia, although it would make me sad. But please, don't hate islam because of it. Believe me, what you're gonna see is not the great ISLAM we should believe in.


Amy said...

Wa alaikum as-salaam Br Accord -

Jazakallah khair for your comment. I've been learning a little about Saudi Arabia from some people I know who live there. And I've known for a long time that it wasn't the perfect land of Islam that some people see it as. In fact, as a woman, I think I am extra sensitive to some of the problems.

And I still think it's a great opportunity.

I know that I am going to face fitnah anywhere I go, there is no perfect spot. And many people think the United States is a pretty easy place to be a Muslim but it's getting harder here, and brings a guilty conscience regarding the empire's foreign policy, and real shame regarding the implementation of the justice system... or lack of implementation of justice, I could say.

So I appreciate your concerns... I do take them seriously.