… said a Chinese-Muslim girl, who was asked by others about her name. Why hasn’t she changed it to a ‘Muslim’ name? For the longest time, I believe that good names, regardless of language, would all count as Muslim names. To this girl, she has separated religion from language, religion from culture and religion from race. It reminds us that religion isn’t strictly for a group of people. She posted this on her blog, too, for those who wish to read it!
Her blog post recounts the moment she received her IC from JPN. Right then, she was also reminded of the one time she attended a religious lecture. While checking the attendance sheet for her name, she found it, although… listed as such:
Sophea Ng Binti Abdullah
Her immediate thought, “since when was my father’s name Abdullah?”
Fair. There has been an odd practice of renaming even a convert’s father into Abdullah, which means ‘Servant(s) of God’. Fair. But not when we change somebody’s name whose father’s name is something else as such, simply because his name isn’t an Arab name. That part doesn’t seem to make much sense to me.
Ng proceeded to take her pencil and changed the name, to her original, Chinese name: Ng Pooi Kheng.
A lady came to see her and asked if this was her real name. A little weird for some to see a Muslim lady with a hijab on, and a Chinese name, no?
Even so, she proceeds to recall another time somebody has asked her if she changed her name to a ‘Muslim’ name. Not many people seem to grasp that there is no need to change one’s name upon conversion! Everytime it happens, she just responds nicely, stating that people call her Sophea, and that it isn’t a part of her real name.
She also continued, saying, “I may have converted but I didn’t change my race. I did not turn into an Arab, or a Malay.” I understand that there is no racist notion behind this, she means to say that there is a constant need to tie Islam to the Malay race in Malaysia, when religion encompasses beyond race and people. Religion means faith, and faith shouldn’t have anything to do with the state one was born into.
She also said “Chinese is my root, Islam is my way of life.”
It’s a beautiful way of putting it. I agree wholeheartedly with her.