It was raining heavily as I waited for my Uber to arrive. My thoughtful Uber driver called me and calmly made sure of where I exactly was. It made the processes of hopping into the car as soon as it arrived fairly easy. I got myself seated comfortably in the car when Akram turned around and confirmed my destination. As we were on our way, Akram looked into the rare view mirror and asked, “How do you pronounce your name?”
“Well, I did pronounce it right until I came to States. To make it easy for people here to pronounce… currently, I say Fat-ma.” I said, pretty disappointed at myself. Growing up I had issues with my name because I didn’t think it was cool enough. He asked me where I am from and when I asked him the same, he said he was from Iraq and we moved on to exchange hilarious stories of the various iterations of our names.
“Do you know how to correctly pronounce your name?”
“Yes, It is Fathima Uz Zehra. Even though it doesn’t spell exactly like that in English.” When the name rolled out of my lips correctly for the first time in a long time, it suddenly dawned on me how beautiful it sounded. And I whispered in sudden realization like I was speaking about someone else, “It sounds beautiful…” Akram wasn’t the first one to tell me that my name was beautiful but he was the first one who made it feel like, pronouncing my name correctly was a matter of personal pride. “Of course. It is a special name. It is Prophet Mohammad’s (P.B.U.H) beloved daughters’ name… and they hold special significance in the history of Islam.”He said
Recently, with 2016 elections underway, there have been a lot of discussions about “radical Islam & Muslims” and Terrorism. Candidates with varied views, all concerned about the safety of the West due to past experiences and current refugee situation, has had a ripple effect on a vast population in formulating opinions about Islam. To encapsulate what it is like to be a Muslim in the world today one quote comes to mind by Charles Dickens with his famous and genius opening lines from “The Tale of Two Cities” :
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”
I stepped out of the car feeling proud of my name, which is such a significant part of my existence, for as long as I live and long after my death; if there is a forever, then I will forever be known as, “Fatema Tuz Zohra” The history of this name can’t leave me and the future of this name won’t precede me. For a name that I thought wasn’t cool and thus disregarded it most of my life, the very same name has brought me to existentialism while retaining my unwavering belief that the universe has a purpose and we have a purpose.
You can be a Christian, a Hindu, a Jew, a Muslim, a Zoroastrian etc. and you can be sure that, religion doesn’t preach violence as a message. To a great degree, violence is born out of ill-managed delusions. In conclusion, let’s practice self-love before Public Display of Affection. Let’s practice humanity before or along with faith. Let’s practice self-pride before self-promotion and you’ll become someones’ Akram. Unintentionally awakening the asleep without putting to bed the already awakened – just by being whole with your soul. Because if you are content within, if you are at peace with yourself and if you are about self-growth… you can belong to any faith but be a representation of PEACE.