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The Power of Naming

The Power of Naming

Names, this abstract thing that defines us and follows us from the day we are born to the day we die, is one of the most essential things in our existence. To name a thing is to own it and claim it as your own. Mark it with your love, your hopes of what you want it to be and what you see it as. Or simply to call it what it is and what circumstances it came in. Names and naming are important that is why when a child is born the parents more often the father of the child picks a name. That is why when slaves are taken. Their names are changed to their owners names to signify that they now belong to their owners. 

Islamically, Parents are encouraged to consult with people of knowledge when deciding on a name for their child. The father, as the leader of the family, has the first right to name the newborn. It is recommended, however, for the father to show kindness to his wife by taking into consideration her suggested names. They should choose the name carefully, ensuring it has a good meaning and has a pleasant utterance. This gives women a chance to name the children they’ve laboured for and would spend years nurturing. 

Culturally, however, naming in Northern Nigeria is sometimes done by the father with recommended consideration of the mother for practicing Hausa Muslims. Following the Islamic guidelines for choosing a name and bestowed by a Liman. For the traditional Hausas, the Maguzawa, the choice is also up to both parents. 

The Hausa have a custom of being shy or ignoring their firstborn. The process of giving a nickname to a child, where the child is called by a nickname, is borne either out of shyness or out of respect for the person after whom the child is named. 

Hausa mothers do not call their firstborns by their names. It is until recent times that women have dropped this custom of not calling their children by their names. 

Culturally men are the head of the house. And men call the shots when it comes to naming children and with colonization, this culture of excluding women from something as important as naming children they gave birth to has been emboldened. 

From giving women a chance to name their children, to retaining the names their mothers and fathers gave them when they get married is empowerment to Muslim women that Islam has given. 

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