What’s in a (Muslim) Name?

I am sharing this because who knows other inter-religion couples may/have experience this too.
Since Jhon had embraced Islam and had officially declared as a Muslim, he also has a Muslim name, Muhammad Faris Tolentino.

It is actually not compulsory for a newly convert to change his/her name to a Muslim name as long as the name does not go against Islam or has a bad meaning. Remember, not all Arabs are Muslims and not all Muslims are Arabs. Just because Islam started in an Arabic country, that does not mean we must have an Arabic name.

With that said, it is greatly encouraged to have a Muslim name because I think, it’s something we relate to being a Muslim. No matter how flawed, deep inside, we wish to be as perfect as we can be and try to embody every aspect of being a Muslim; from performing our 5 pillars of strength (Declaration of faith, Solat, Fast, Zakat & Haj) to living our lives as close to the hadiths to even our names.

As much as it’s just a name, it does have more meaning to it.

While drafting our wedding cards, we only thought of writing

It is a name that all our family and peers know and recognise.
We are our names.

When we had our drafted cards, I showed it to my family for extra eyes to check for any errors. One had brought up, “Why never put his Muslim name?” A fact that never came up when I had pre-discussed about wedding cards. To be exact, it was requested that his Muslim name should be the dominant name and his birth name to be bracketed.

My point of view was that the name Jhon was what he was recognised for. Especially when he mails out the wedding card to his friends, they know him as his full birth name; not Muslim name. It would create less confusion.

Plus, we didn’t see the NEED to put his Muslim name. Was it to show off that he is now a Muslim? Was it a not so subtle declaration of his newly embraced religion just in case the uncles/aunties asked?

I was explained that his Muslim name is part of him now so we must write. As much as I understand that and agree that it IS a part of him, I believe it’s more internally and spiritually. After all, he is not officially changing his name in all his official documents. Even if he wanted to, it could only be placed as an alias.

At that point, I was upset. It is because, there are people who would correct those who call him Jhon and said he is Faris now.

I couldn’t help but scream internally.
He is Faris AND Jhon.

Jhon (John the Baptist) is Yahya PBUH, a prophet in Islam. Jhon who grew up to be the man I know but also Faris for a reborn chapter of his life. He is both. Just because his Muslim name is Faris, that does not mean his name and identity of being Jhon ceased to exist.

I’ve read articles like these before. Stories of converts where people think just because they are now converted, they come a completely different person. But that’s wrong. Converts are still the same people. They still like the same thing, have the same personality, likes and dislikes. They just have a different faith now. Since Islam is also a way of life, sure, they might change in terms of behaviour but if followed according to Islam, surely it’s for the better.

It’s just a name even though it can be a little bit more than that.

Plus, how can we ever squeeze an extra name without compromising the card layout? Space wasn’t a big issue at that time. I was somehow purely upset of just thinking of Jhon not existing. Perhaps I was emotional or I was stressed. But I kept thinking, why can’t I keep Jhon the man I fell in love for this life AND Faris, the man I am marrying for the afterlife?

Even Jhon himself don’t understand it.

In the end, we just kept telling ourselves.

It’s just a name. It’s just a card. It’s just a name. It’s just a card.

Whatever beyond that, only we and Allah knows; the reason and intention that is beyond a name.
We decided to make create a smaller font underneath his birth name and all is well.

Everyone is happy but we still hold our ground.
Jhon is Faris, Faris is Jhon.


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