I decided on my daughter’s name last year (sorry future husband you get no say in this) when I finished reading Maya Angelou’s ‘Letters To My Daughter.’ I know I keep writing about this book but it truly is the gift that keeps giving.
Last weekend I had the blessing of being on a panel about spirituality at the Discovery Talk Show. One of the topics we discussed was about our perception of Allah swt, and why we have a tendency to relate to Him only through the lens of punishment rather than his more loving attributes.
The question got me thinking about the number of Muslims who have left Islam because of the belief instilled in them, either through personal experiences or through the teaching of others, that God doesn’t love them.
A couple of years ago I remember having a haunting conversation with a Muslim man that was homeless. He said to me, ‘How could Allah love me when he took away my father?’
I didn’t have an easy answer for him. In fact, there is so much that is going on around the world that I don’t have an easy answer for. But I do know one thing for sure, that the pain that we go through in this life in no way diminishes the love that Allah swt has for us. There is no better example of this than the beloved of Allah swt, our Nabi, The Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.
Think about the losses that the most beloved to Allah swt bore during his lifetime. He lost his parents at a young age, he was boycotted by his people, he lost his wife Khadija and buried every single one of his sons and that is just to name a few. Yet he was loved by Allah and so are we. Reading the Seerah shows us how Allah swt acknowledges the Prophet’s pain. There are so many instances where Allah swt relates stories to The Prophet peace be upon him to comfort and console him throughout his trials. The Quran is also a reminder and testament of Allah’s love for us so that our hearts are comforted with the knowledge of Him, in all of his completeness and attributes.
When I chose my daughter’s name I wanted it to be a name that would constantly remind her of Allah. I chose Asiya because I want her to have the courage and conviction of a woman who loved Allah and in doing so chose Him and His company over the comfort of this world. Asiyah loved Allah and she was loved by Allah. The safekeeping of her prayer in the Quran for billions to read and use is a testament to this love.
The Yoruba culture similar to a lot of cultures places emphasis on choosing a meaningful and profound name for a child. The chosen names are seen as an expression of hope and desire for the child’s life. I want my daughter’s middle name to be Oluwaferanmi which in Yoruba literally translates to God loves me. My hope for her is that she is always reminded of God’s love. That she is never burdened by the experiences that she faces and that she carries this knowledge with her in dealing with others. Instilling in her, a love for God and teaching her about the signs of His love are the legacies that I hope to leave her with.
I encourage you to read the passage below from Maya Angelou’s book that inspired/confirmed my daughter’s names for me:
“Mr Wilkerson asked me to read a section which ended with the words ‘God loves me.’ I read the piece and closed the book. The teacher said, ‘Read it again.’ I pointedly opened the book and a bit sarcastically read, ‘God loves me.’ Mr Wilkerson said, ‘Again.’ I wondered if I was being set to be laughed at by the professional, older, all-white company?
After about the seventh repetition I became nervous and thought that there might be a little truth in the statement. There was a possibility that God really did love me, me Maya Angelou. I suddenly began to cry at the gravity and grandeur of it all. I knew that if God loved me, then I could do wonderful things. I could try great things, learn anything, achieve anything. For what could stand against me, since one person, with God, constitutes the majority?”
Dear Asiyah Oluwaferanmi,
May Al-Wadud the source of love bring you into this world with His love and mercy. May you be a reminder to others of God’s love and may you be a servant of Allah who loves his creation, Ameen.
Mama turns a new age today and she can’t wait to meet you one day.