Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Why do they call me Mo?

I'll start off, and end off this post by saying, that I really don't mind it --being called Mo. Its just that I'm not very fond of nicknames, Mido, Hamada, Abuhmeid, Mo, ugh.

At one point of my teenage life I was actually enjoying being called Mo. Its more of an American nickname than anything. You know how Americans like to shorten everything, using acronyms and abbreviations. So Mo was a natural nickname for Mohamed, shorter, easier to pronounce, and sounds American. But the problem with it being American, is that Moe stooge from The Three Stooges. I don't think its a compliment to be nicknamed after this guy (I think he was the dumbest of the three).

I grew out of it though. I grew out of all nicknames actually. You know that IRC chatting thing, I tried it out when I was in college, and used to use one of those silly nicknames. Some of my college friends still call me that till now! One of them is a big shot Managing Director in a fast growing company. I bump into him, and he calls out my stupid historical nickname outloud! Don't know how to erase that from his memory. He actually sounds silly saying it.

My nephews call me Mo, but they're little kids. Couldn't pronounce my full name as little babies, so they learnt to call me with the shorter version of the name. I hope that changes as they grow up.

You know how in Egypt friends call you with your last name or your father's name, especially when your first name is so common. That happens to me ofcourse, and I'm perfectly fine with it. Just happens that some group of friends use my last name, and some others use my father's name, and sometimes it gets abit confusing. A friend of mine makes a point of calling me with my first name when he's annoyed with me, and wants it to sound like its a formal conversation. I actually enjoy it when he does that. "Hello Mohamed. Good morning Mohamed. How do you do Mohamed."

I heard a Muslim scholar once say, that our prophet encourages us to call people by what they'd like to be called by. This was said in the context of what to call Egyptian Christians. I'm not sure, but I guess they don't like being called "Nasara", but rather be called "Copts". Although Nasara means, those who nasaro (stood by) the prophet and his companions during the early days of Islam, so its like calling them "buddies". Anyway, so he was saying, if they like to be called "Copts", they should be called "Copts". So I like to call people with what they prefer, nickname or real name. Whatever you prefer, I'll call you by it.

It is also an Islamic duty on parents to pick good names for their new-borns. I think my parents picked an okay name for me, Mohamed. Its not really my favorite, having the same name as half of the country --when in Egypt, and implying that I am a terrorist --when abroad. It is a great name, same as our prophet's. But I'd rather follow him in many other significant actions and deeds, rather than just simply have the same name. I don't think God will count my name on the balance of my good deeds in the day of judgement. I wish He would, I know I'll need all the support I can get, but this just won't count.

I've learnt to live with it though, and enjoy it. Doesn't really serve its purpose, the name, of uniquely identifying me. But maybe that's better.

I used to really like it when my ex would write my name as "M7amad" when she emailed me. You know, mimicking the Arabic literals to make the Arabic pronounciation of the name, with the 7ah. Felt like she was sitting infront of me and speaking right to my face. Felt good. All my friends would call me with my father's name or last name, and she would call me M7amad. Felt very intimate from her. If she did once call me with my father's name, she sounded like one of them. So see how it goes. Strangers call me Mohamed, Mr. Mohamed. Friends call me with my father's or family name. Intimates call me with my first name again.

I think the proper spelling of my name in English is Muhammad, that's how I spell the prophet's name. But when I spell my name, I like to simplify it as much as possible, make it sound familiar to English speakers, so ignore the heavy diacritics, make it light and smooth for the smooth Westerners, Mohammed.

I think the right spelling should have a double 'm', but I like to spell it with one 'm' to shorten it abit, Mohamed. Its already long enough, and my last name is even longer, so I think shortening my first one is a good idea. Plus, you end up pronouncing it the same way with one or two m's.

Some people don't care much as to how they're called, or how their names are spelled. I don't know if we should care or not, but isn't it a part of our identity.

Then again, you can call me whatever (just not Mido or Hamada).

16 comments:

praktike said...

All right, all right! Mohamed it is!

Highlander said...

I have a different spelling in Latin for my name with different people depending on their importance in my personal buddy ladder. So when you get to use my official ( i.e the one I like) spelling then that means you are on top of the list , if you get to use my nickname , that means you're intimate because that is reserved for parents, siblings and close family..;) Gosh what does that mean about me ...Anyway you're Mohamed to me, ok with the spelling no -problem

Twosret said...

"Wenabi ya see Mohamed Ma ha3aml kedda tani abadan LOL"

Quote from El-Sokaria :)

T.

Jeff said...

I have a crazy last name, Littlejohn, which led to much elemntary-school-age ridicule. I heard "small john," "tiny toilet," "pequeno juan," littlejohnson, etc.

R said...

I also hate being nicknamed. I'm happy that Ramy is short enough to be called that way by most people. I find calling people by their last names a bit awkward, especially if you want to insult them :)

As for the "I'm not sure, but I guess they don't like being called "Nasara", but rather be called 'Copts.' Although Nasara means, those who nasaro (stood by) the prophet and his companions during the early days of Islam, so its like calling them 'buddies'"

I think Christians in Egypt like to be called Christians!! That's how they call themselves at least (masi7eyyeen).
Copts might be ok but it's full of historic inaccuracy (since all Egyptians should somehow be called Copts), and it also identifies an ethnicity rather than a faith.

As for "Nassara", it actually was one of the early names used to describe the nascent Christian communities. They were called so after Jesus of Nazareth (Al-Nassera). So they were called the Nazarenes after Jesus the Nazarene. (Some eccentric scholars think it's actually Nazirene from Nazir (ref)).
نذير

As for the Nassara described in Qur'an, they are really one of the history mysteries.
Some think they are actually the ancestors of today's Christians, but some think they were a Christian sect (the ancestors of one of today's Nazarene Church or Nazarene order, a small Judeo-Christian sect (references: 1, 2, 3) have a way of describing their God as ).
This may explain lot of controversies, becasue some Nazarenes believe in a Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Mother!!

This has been played on politically. Although Christians don't feel like being called "Nassara", they are ok with it because some Qur'anic verses say Nassara are closest to Muslims.
As for Muslims, some of them insist that today's Christians are not "Nassara" but polytheists.
A name sometimes can cost you a life :)

Mohamed said...

Somehow I was sure you'd correct me on this. Thanks Ramy.

The extreme radicals call Christians the K-word, some call them 'Nasara' but describe them as polytheists, but many religious Muslims like to just call them 'Nasara'. But do you agree on that scholar's definition of the word Nasara?

I'm not sure what Christians in Egypt like to be called. I tend to think it is 'Copts', emphasizing their Egyptian origin (I know you definetely know better than me on this one). National TV uses the term Copts, and Milad Hanna uses it as well I think. And I'm sure National TV and official media would use the term that is the official favorite?

R said...

Hehe.. I really resisted commenting on that, but I felt I'll offer info that neither Muslims nor Christians know!!

I think the Nazirene nomenclature is a bit off. In the Bible, Nazarene is related to Nazareth, and is used almost only once to describe Christ disciples as:
شيعة الناصريين ـ(أعمال الرسل ٢٤::٥)ـ
The Nazarene sect
Acts 24:5

As for the "Copts" terrm. I think it became so common, and indeed most Egyptian Christians belong to either the Coptic Orthodox (92%) or Coptic Catholic or even Coptic Evangelical churches. However, should Egyptian Christians hijack the "Coptic" identity and heritage?

There is another "K" word also which is "Koftis", derived from "Coptic"... It's sometimes used as the "N" word is used in the USA.

Finally.. I don't know what's wrong with the simple term: "Christians"?

Mohamed said...

I don't know R! I personally like this term, "Christians", best. But whatever Christians prefer to be called, I'll call them by it.

Hellme said...

I don't call Christians anything :P

I call them by their names/

Just being silly boys - it's late.

Mo..erm...Muhammed...ahh..Mohammed...ehh...Mohamed...

So what exactly do you want us to call you?

Mohammed said...

eshta ya 7amada...

BP said...

I have a friend called Mohammed, we call him Mo.
As for the copts, as far as I know, a lot of them don't like the word "Nasara" may be because the Bible never called the followers of jesus as nasara. I think Maseheyeen is the best option.
As for copts, I believe it should not be used because it actually means Egyptian. So when the media and everyone else says "Aqbaat Masr", it actually means "The Egyptians of Egypt" LOL

egyptiansally said...

i'm a few days late in reading this post, but it's quite interesting. i was always mad at my parents for calling me sally. it sounded like a country singer. but now, i kinda like it. as i got older, my friends in the states would always say that they'd never met a "sally" who looked/acted like me. somehow i gave the name new dimension, instead of its country/hick connotation. then, when i came to egypt, people would pronounce my name "sailee" instead, which takes away the very american-country pronunciation.

then there are always the nicknames. some friends call me "sal" which is ok, but my favorite nickname was one my french teacher gave me. she'd call me "sallinette" (always adding an -ette at the end of someone's name whenever possible). i was delighted that the name sounded so far away from anything southern. my guy friends in the states also just call me by my last name, which is great because it makes me feel like one of the guys :)

i think that because of my experience, i'll be very conscious in naming my kids. i'm most concerned that people-- in egypt, the u.s., even russia perhaps-- to be able to pronounce their names. actually, my friend in the states named her kids ammel, nedya, and hanna, spelling them so that they had arabic prounciations instead of american or british ones.

apologies for the long comment, but this is such a favorite topic of mine.

Mohamed said...

Glad I hit a chord there Sally. I like the Sallinette one, can I call you that? :)

egyptiansally said...

Sure, go right ahead.

Nadya said...

so this is really random, but I'm pure american...however raised the way I was you'd never know, fluent in spanish and russian, learning arabic and chinese. Only recently am I starting arabic. I adore a man, Mohammad, with whom I am in a long distance relationshionship...he had to go back to saudi arabia for the summer...but in Russian we have cute forms of name...like Nadejda becomes Nadya, which to someone like a boyfriend would become Nadushenka...can I ask for random advice for an arabic short form to call my love?

bionic820 said...

I heard that on the east coast when someone calls you "Moe" or it could be spelled "Mo" it can be a negative reference. Possibly like "idiot." A guy that I work with is from New York and is Italian and always says "hey Moe," or "move it Moe." I will ask him about it soon, but has anyone ever heard anything about this. Personally, I think it is a cool nickname or name and the negative aspect is obviously only if it is directed in that manner; which is why I am curious. This guy calls everyone Moe and now everyone is reciprocating the term in jest. He may not admit the meaning to me, so I call on you for assistance. Then I can call him out! I did just hear a reference to the term on a talk show this morning. The host said something like "they are all a bunch of Moe's" in the context of speaking about something on the east coast. In other words, he was imitating slang from the east to elaborate on a story and make a joke. "Go figure!"