Friday, March 20, 2009

Censoring Names

Names given to newborn children are whetted by the relevant authority in the Maldives. It appears that only certain types of Arabic names pass the litmus test, and authorities are rather successful in enforcing them at the birth certificate level. But unfortunately for them this control is almost totally lost by the time the child enters teenage. After that we only hear names like Gaburu Ayya, Natay, Boddu, Kukulhay, Rattay, Bakattaa** and other even more interesting sounds.

In the 1970s and before, it was common to have truly Dhivehi names like Dhon Didi, Kalhu Thutthu, Lahuttu, Tutteedi, Kudamaniku etc. But during the 1980s when the ID card was introduced such names were systematically eliminated and replaced with Arabic names. At the same time, the process of whetting newborn names was introduced. In the early days of this process Persian and Urdu names were allowed. Thus there are lots of girls named Shalinee and Sharmeela. However, more recently such names have also got the axe.

If one looks at naming traditions across the Islamic word, one could see a lot of variety. Iran and Afghanistan have their own distinct flavor of names. In Pakistan and Bangladesh it is quite common to hear names like Naik, Chowdhary, Beewi and Begum. In the largest Muslim country, Indonesia, it is rarely that one hears an Arabic name. Even in Arabic countries there are many common names that are likely to be rejected by the Maldivian authorities.

Interestingly, in those countries nicknames like Kattay, Kurappay and Burito** are not that common. Why is that?

[** If any of these names resembles a real person's name, it is purely coincidental. Sincere apologies are offered for any inconvenience caused.]


thadu said...

interesting topic it is. i don't know where to start, what to think, where to end, on this topic! if it is addressed in terms of rights and even if the relevant authorities of Maldives allow other then certain types of Arabic names, still the name given to the child might be a name that the child wants when he/she grows up. But i think the parents should have the right to name their children other then certain types of Arabic names. we are Maldivians, we are humans, not Arabs.

And nick names... i think it is a Maldivian trend to give names like kaattey, kukulhey etc that are 'dhivehic' in sound. And on other occasions based on an area the person belongs to etc.

Other countries might have other trends in giving nick names. Lets simplify it to as 'cultural'? Confusing!!!

Anonymous said...

We must not allow non-Arab names. We have to become more Arabic so we will get more respect.

Anonymous said...

i think if no arab name is available he cannot enter in Suvaruge.

Anonymous said...

Maldives may be a small country but we are one of the most regulated country in the World.Any little thing, the Government intrudes.A friend of mine from Maliku said that one reason why he would not want to be a Maldivian is the sheer number of iulaans he hears on VOM directing people's lives.

Anonymous said...

thanx Waddey for writing on this topic, very interesting!

Faaiz said...

well I'd say not only Arab names are allowed or should be allowed, the authorities allow even if its a Turkish name if you can prove that the name does not mean anything like "kattey' or bad. Islam says nothing against any name from any language as long as its meaning is good, Islam also states that giving a good name to the newborn is an obligation in their parents and its their (newborns) right.

Anonymous said...

from the time of delivery and beyond are very celabrated occasions in our islamic tradition in which giving names to our new born babies are one of the very important features in the process. supposely it is not mandatory to give an arabic name to a new born given the purposes of naming children.The essential purpose of giving names is to keep ones identity attached to his or her world view. according to muslim tradition, on the day of judgement pple will be called upon by names they are mostly known among his fellow human beings. suppose a person`s name is known by his or her nickname like "gabray" "kawwalhey" "lachchay" hifahattachy" would be called upon by these names. thats why pple who are traditionally very puritanical to have their babies being named after those names which can be truley translated their world view.islamically speaking most beautiful names in the sight of Allah Almighty are names like" ABDULLAH, ABDURRAHMAN and names that bear the attributes of ALLAH. Here comes to the importance of differentiating between tradition and culture. For an instance throught our islamic history things have ivolved and taken their shapes according to the prevalent cultures without being detached from Isalmic tradition. take for example the architectural influences on the shape, sizes and the features of building MASJID in various parts of muslim world. These sacred places have being ivolved and taken different architectuarl styles without being detached from its very core draditional aspect of keeping the whole structure towards QIBLA. likewise we can have our babies name accordingly without being detached from our deep rooted islamic tradition. are the names given to our babies serve this end? do these names help us to keep our identity as muslims? do these names lead to attachments of our world view? name giving is also such an ivolving process where culturally it may take differnt styles in various societies but has to keep in mind by doing so are we more attached or detached to our Islamic tradition, as cultures may change time to time but still the trdition will remain the same as some of the scholars interprete tradition closely related to religion.

Anonymous said...

Arabs have been made the noblest race on earth. So we must follow thier culture. Perhaps we can also take arabi instead of dhivehi.

Anonymous said...

Why are we giving up our culture? Lhahuttu is nice name.

Anonymous said...

@anon 9.52
there is no evidence that Arabs are the best of all man kind, Allah says "verily the best in front of Allah is the most thagva person/" the person who fears Allah most and do his prayers and religious duties. like the prophet said on hajjathul vadhaa, no Arab is above non Arabs, no non-Arbas are above Arabs except for their thagva.

Anonymous said... if this is a major issue.. whats in a name anyway.

There are large issues in Maldives like lack of professionalism and corruption of elite. Your writings on these cock and bull stories as an instrument of the elite is nothing more than an attempt to divert from real issues.

Such issues are indeedhobodigans of small minds.

Fali said...

anony 4.41
I think govt deciding to override our freedom and culture and imposing an arab one is a big issue. Muslims live everywhere not only in arab countries, and not living in arab lands doesnt make them any less muslim. also there are non muslim arabs, just like there are non muslim americans!
I just dont like this mentality of thinking everything arab is pure and muslim

moyameehaa said...

it depends. in my family we have names with no meaning (in any language) and even western names.but sometimes they just dont agree to pass some names. if the name was never given to a maldivian before, then we have to get the signature of a sheikh from mathee majlis (now i guess dat would be MoIA). anyway..i once went to gubaad and he said as long as it doesnt mean anything bad in any language (how does one know? anyone here knows all world languages?) and as long as it can be written in arabic, it is ok. so, some farsi names are rejected for that reason i think. maybe raqeeb and atheedh use arabic script to write the faiykolhu.persians are much more religious than us obviously.. but they have retained their cultural heritage atleast. like..they still celebrate persian holidays like new year. so these people are closer to taliban than iran i guess. but the even the taliban take pride in their origins and language.they have afghani names still.pakistanis are proud of urdu..even those who dress like medieval arabs.these dhivehi people are crazy.just because mohamed and his companions had arabic names doesnt mean they have to have arabic names.