Tuesday, July 26, 2016


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In Tajikistan, Islamic Names Are The New Fashion

Tajikis pray in Dushanbe's central mosque during the feast of Eid al-Fitr. Islam's growing influence is showing up in the new fashion for names.
Tajikis pray in Dushanbe's central mosque during the feast of Eid al-Fitr. Islam's growing influence is showing up in the new fashion for names.
By Farangis Najibullah and Zarangez Navruzshoh
Until earlier this year, one 19-year-old student from the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, was known as Shohrukh to his friends and family.

But he recently decided to ditch his "purely Tajik" first name and now answers to "Muhammad," the name of Islam's prophet.

"I came to this decision gradually," Muhammad says. "I learned about Islam and wanted to get a suitable Muslim name for myself." He says that he heard that "on Doomsday, everyone will be called by their first names, so I wanted to be called Muhammad."

So-called Islamic names are becoming increasingly popular in the predominantly Muslim country.

Like Muhammad, those who have chosen new names are largely young men in their late teens and early 20s. And an increasing number of parents are picking Islamic names for their newborn babies.

Experts say the trend reflects the growing influence of Islam among Tajiks.

New Fashion


Approximately every fifth baby girl born in Dushanbe gets an Islamic name, and the most popular girl's name is Sumayah, according to officials in the capital's civil-registration office.

"Other newly popular names for girls include Asiya and Oisha, a Tajik version of the Arabic name Aisha," says Zebo Bobojonova, the director of the Shohmansur civil-registration office in Dushanbe.

"We wouldn't hear such names five years ago, when Iranian and Indian names like Googoosh, Anohito, and Indira were among the most desired names by parents coming to our office to get birth certificates for their babies," Bobojonova says.

Aisha is the name of one the prophet's wives, while Asiya is the name of a Muslim noblewoman mentioned in the Koran. According to Islamic teachings, Sumayah was the first martyr of Islam.

Names of prominent Islamic figures such as Muhammad, Yusuf, Abdullo, and Abubakr have become a trendy choice for Tajik baby boys.

Some local mullahs and imams encourage people to choose Islamic names for their children. Hoji Mirzo Ibronov, a prominent mullah and the imam of a mosque in the southern town of Kulob, says that as a local religious leader it's his duty to convey the hadiths, sayings and deeds attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, to Muslims.

"I tell people that Allah prefers names like Abdullah and Abdurrahmon, and generally names with the combination of "Abd" [meaning 'servant' in Arabic] followed by another word describing Allah, such as Abdulqahhor, Abdulmannon, and Abdurrahim," Ibronov says. "We tell people that according to the hadiths, Allah likes such names."

Rising Religious Fervor


Mullahs and imams enjoy enormous respect among their local communities, as Islam is on the rise in the country. Boys as young as 6 oe 7 years old usually attend evening prayers in their neighborhood mosques, followed by the imams' sermons.

Compact discs with religious leaders' sermons explaining Islamic values are widely available in local markets.

Dilshod Rahimov, a Dushanbe-based specialist on art and culture, says such sermons and the abundant religious literature have a vast influence on young people's mind-sets.

"Young men who are changing their first names to Islamic names are putting their religious identity before their national identity. Everybody has the right to choose whatever name they want for themselves or for their children, but I think it is somehow superficial," Rahimov says.

"You don't have to have an Islamic name to be a proper Muslim. For instance, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, people follow their religion but they don't have to bear Arabic and religious names."

'Call Me Muhammad'


Names like Sumayah or Asiya were almost unheard of in Tajikistan just a few years ago, when many parents preferred old Persian names for their children.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the names of the characters from the 10th-century Persian poet Abulqasim Firdawsi's epic "Shahnameh" were the most popular both for baby girls and boys.

Hundreds of thousands of Tajik girls were named after Persian princesses and queens, such as Tahmeena, Gurdofarid, and Sudoba, while pre-Islamic royal names like Siyovush, Faridun, Jamshed, and Bezhan were fashionable names for boys.

At that time, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, local media encouraged a revival of the country's ancient Persian heritage.

But some of those Jamsheds are now trading in their names for Islamic ones, Rahimov says. After all, Jamshed was a Persian monarch who followed Zoroastrian teachings.

As for 19-year-old Muhammad, he has yet to officially register his new Islamic name. The legal process for changing your name is a lengthy, complicated, and costly process in Tajikistan.

It involves obtaining letters and references from a variety of government agencies, including local authorities, local and central registry centers, and Interior Ministry branches, among others. Applicants are also required to provide police clearance certificates from every place they have lived since the age of 16, along with a letter from their school or workplace.

In addition to bureaucratic hurdles, the rampant bribery in government agencies makes the process even more expensive. It's a common practice in Tajikistan to pay bribes for every document or letter people get from government offices, if they want to obtain the document on time.

But it doesn't really matter, Muhammad says. "My friends and family call me by my new name and that's enough for now," he says.
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Pejman from: Amsterdam
October 06, 2010 21:25
In Iran it was different! After Islamic Revolution people recognized what a big mistake they have done and they returned to their Persian heritage. Now they mostly use Persian names, not Islamic. Tajiks needs to know how much a religious system can be dangrous for their cultural heritage.

by: J from: US
October 07, 2010 00:46
How silly. First they carried Russian names, then Persian and now Arabic. Talk of identity crisis.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
October 08, 2010 23:15
"Jo.." from the USA again,
Reminding us about the gain,
That Russia was loosing to Arabs
And Persian Darius follower, like Abbas.
Better Faith in God and Tajiks choice names.

Another suplimental of another "Jo..", little Muki,
Call for Ummah - UikovskiyImelskiyDerevo Uiki.

Konstantin.

by: American Muslim from: USA
October 07, 2010 02:08
Masha-Allah - Its a revival of Muslim Ummah.

by: faramarz from: usa
October 07, 2010 16:43
Tajiks are Persian and mostly Muslim. They have the choice to select what name they want, and that is good.

On the other hand if the trend is shifting toward Islamic name by tajik, is the reflection of their disappointment from Iran. They were looking at Iran as a model, but in reality they found Iran is far back ward, full of dishonesty and deception who like to help Hezballh, not her Persian brothers in Afghanistan and Tajikestan.. They looked at their religious in Arabia, etc, they found more purity and honesty,and received a lot of support. they decide to follow this path. Neither Shah nor Khomeiny cared about this people, because they are not Shia.
In Response

by: Anonymous
October 08, 2010 23:02
Faramarz, trying be Persians that once destroyed Media's UN?
Let Tajiks identity go. Collecting Dariuses possessions again?

Konstantin.

by: uzma from: Pakistan
October 08, 2010 09:28
I donot agree that affiliation with religion can be dangerous for Tajikistan or any other state. This is not religion that teach you to be extremist or hate others. Every religion teaches peace and tolerance. There hundreds and thousands of people in Europe and America who are not religious at all but they are extremist. This is only Tajiks love for their religion. Despite of indulging in these debate whether one should have a islamic name or not all of us try to free our minds from extremist thinking and put efforts for peace every where.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
October 08, 2010 22:55
Uzma, religion consists from number of parts.
In ideology of his Faith Muhamed "Muhe-Medi",
From tribe "Kura-shi", whose ansestors once
Inherrited at The Holly Mount the "Black Stone",
Sad reminder of God's departure, was leading
To some difference with his Christian approach.

If not that, his Faith would be close to Georgian's.
Even more so, national exsistance is paramount,
He had to accept Arab's desert law and traditions,
Not any other Muslim nation has to follow that part.

But there is also a powerfull reason of reality of life,
Wars and total destruction, any nation has to survive.
Which one is enemy or friend, wich is brother in Faith
Often manipulated by enemy - not necessary coinside.

Konstantin.

by: Roustam from: USA
October 08, 2010 15:16
If you look at the history of Tajikistan; it was under many rulers, starting Islamic Empire, then The Mongols and its successors, then Persian and Bukharan rule, followed by Russians. One said “Tajiks are in identity crisis”, please explain what identity. My name is Roustam, as an article stated, named after a hero from “Shahname” and my parents named me that way because of Persian influence Tajikistan was under prior Soviet Invasion. There are many people in Tajikistan named Muhammad, Abdurahman, etc. which are pure Arabic names, in essence coming from Islamic Empire authority on Tajiks in year (700–1200). So, for the past 2000 years, peoples ideology shifted from one ruler to another. There is no right or wrong answer to what people are doing today. They are looking to the past and making changes for the future.

by: a persian/tajik from: Toronto
October 08, 2010 16:26
If this 'trend' does not negatively affect the (authentic) religious and cultural heritage of these people then I think it isn't that much of a problem. What I mean is that I fear a growing inclination toward 'wahabism' in Tajikistan (thanks for the most part to missionary activities from certain Arab nations e.g. Saudi Arabia, etc.) which, if not stoped, will, I think, shun out the dominant religious affiliation (i.e. Hanafi) of most Tajik people. Consequently, in a similar manner will be affected the persian culture of these people - a culture that Islam has so successfully integrated into its worldview by its moderate and authentic forms (i.e. the Jafari and Hanafi madhahab). This is easily attested to by the tremendous contribution that persian people generally have made to Islam, from poetry to architecture and everything in between). Provided nothing of the sort happens, God-willing, I wouldn't really 'mind' this trend, but at the same time would also be in agreement with agha-ye Rahimov in saying that "you don't have to have an Islamic name to be a proper Muslim." I think that those original farsi names, just like the Arabic ones, have their own particular beauty of meaning too.
In Response

by: Anonymous
October 08, 2010 20:59
Saudi Arabs are the new imperialists. They did not succeed in forcing Turks and Iranians to fully Arabize so they now use their vast wealth to spread wahabism.

At least they have no other resources and they are a demographic time bomb.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
October 08, 2010 22:33
Persian/tajik, poetry and architecture started long before that,
In pre-Georgia, from North-West of Tbilisi to South of Caspian Sea,
And to Kura-Araks in South, by 12 Milleniums ago excavations, at least,
Caucasian World at-large inherrited it, including Arabs - and advanced it.
Part of it annexed by Persia - Ibero-Caucasian culture routed many seeds.

National identity is important - Muhamed "walked to its Mountain" toward it.
The idea of loosing national identity for World Halifate - suplimentary deed,
As Russian World Empire conspiracy - in "The 13th Warrior" forged movie.
Don't believe you must abandon your Land or your Faith, for Russian mad.

Also not all is Persian in the World, including Tajikistan, as for the names,
Most names, including Persian and Arab, translate from old pre-Georgian
Language of God, "Rahim" is Inner river in man (tree), Wahaba is a game,
Of expanding Empires translates Great tree of herritage - Faith and nation.

Konstantin.
In Response

by: Anonymous
October 11, 2010 21:22
lol what are you talking about?

by: nader patel from: india
October 08, 2010 18:39
Does anyone know how does this trend affect minorities like Zarathushtis.

by: tajikholic ;)
October 09, 2010 09:18
Very interesting. More Tajik people choose Islamic names thesedays, but I have rarely seen anybody changing their family names, ending with Russian naming tradition, ending with ov or ova. I only know the Tajik president who stopped using OV in the end of last name.

by: Lily
November 02, 2010 20:02
Hey! This is on wikipedia!

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