I have two first names. The first, the name given at my birth. Then much later my Muslim name : Fatimah. Interestingly, I know more about the meaning of my Muslim name, than my birth name. I will explore the meaning of both, beginning with my first name: Alexis. I have always loved the name. When a child, burdened with an unusual and complicated name, people would inquire:
They: What should we cal you?
I can only imagine their surprise when a diminutive five year old would seriously and calmly say: Alexis.
I did not have nicknames, or a shortened version for that reason. My parents gave me a diminutive Alix, calling me that at home, but no one else called me by that name. (I suddenly remembered that I caught Dunham calling me Alix. I was startled. Dunham was a man met during my London days. It was his middle name, so funny why I didn’t call him Paul, his first name. I left London for Vancouver in 2017, then learned he was a Muslim There was so much unsaid between us, now I understand. I did not at the time, was confused and hurt. No longer, he is forgiven. Alix Residences in Malaysia is named for me. That was a mystery until I discovered I had written of my diminutive on my blog while in conversation with Joo Kim Tiah.
Oops I digressed. Researched the meaning of Alexis on the Internet, finding the best account on Wikipedia. A very thorough explanation as you shall soon see. It is a unisex name (not sure how I feel about that).
“Alexis is a given name of Greek origin. It is derived from several saints venerated by the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, including Saint Alexius of Rome. Like the name Alexander, Alexis derives from the Greek verb ἀλέξειν (aléxein; ‘defender’). The ending “-is” points at its belonging to the masculine gender (according to Greek grammar); however, many women have this name. The Russian equivalent of the name is Alexey or Alexei. Many European languages, including Greek, use the female variant Alexia.
While the name is mostly male, it has been predominantly given to females in the United States since at least the 1940s, when actress Alexis Smith began appearing in films. It has been among the top 50 most popular names for girls in the United States since 1990. In the 2008 book 5-Star Baby Name Advisor, author Bruce Lansky writes that the girls’ name has the image of a “sexy and seductive knockout.” The increase in popularity of the name is sometimes attributed to the notable character Alexis Colby from the American television series Dynasty…”
Reading this, reacquainting myself with the name’s history provided meaning. The history of my name is actually very funny. My parents decided they would name me after the Saskatchewan city in which I was born.
Me: At least it was not Lac La Biche
Alter Ego: What was the name of the city?
Me: Regina, which is quite regal. However in Canada, its pronunciation rhymes with vagina. With my last name I would have been Alexis Dryburgh. I would have been teased and ridiculed constantly by peers.
Alter Ego: What happened?
Me:Some clear thinking individual intervened. As confirmed by Wikipedia Alexis Smith was a movie star at the time. My father’s name was Alexander, it was perfect.
Alter Ego: But it was an unusual name at the time.
Me: Most unusual. If I heard my name called, I knew it was me they were calling. It got most confusing later – when the Alexises proliferated. I would turn around, respond to find they were calling out to a fire year old.
Alter Ego: When did the name proliferate?
Me: Wikipedia got it right yet again. It was the television series Dynasty that did it.
Alter Ego: Did you learn anything you did not know before from reading Wikipedia?
Me: Yes! That the girl’s name has the image of a ‘sexy and seductive knockout”
Alter Ego: How do you feel about that?
Me: I laugh! I am an eighty year old Muslim woman. It is not at all applicable now, although perhaps in the days prior to my reversion to the Islamic Faith…well. Those days are obviated.
Obviate is a perfect word. Its meaning is remove (a need or difficulty). Its origin: late 16th century: from late Latin obviat- ‘prevented’, from the verb obviare, based on Latin via ‘way’.
Suitable synonyms are: remove, get rid of, do away with, rule out, eliminate, take away, avert, Used in a sentence: The settlement obviated the need for the separate cases to be heard in court.
In other words, my past sins are removed, eliminated and done away with. Allah (SWT) in His Mercy and Compassion has determined that those new to the Islamic Faith were not aware in the past that their actions were sinful. Of course, when one has knowledge they must repent.
In the Islamic Faith there are four steps the Believer must take to repent. 1- Stop the sin. 2- Regretting deeply and truly for the sin committed. 3- Return to Allah for forgiveness. 4- Strong intention never to return to that same sin again.The Quran speaks of Repentance in Chapter 4: Women
Quran 4:17 But God undertakes to accept repentance only from those who do evil out of ignorance and those who repent soon after. God turns toward such people with mercy. He is all knowing and all wise.
(The Quran. Goodward Books, Translation by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan)
Alter Ego: Tell us of the meaning of your Muslim name Fatimah (as you spell it)
Me: I shall be happy to do so. This from Wikipedia.
Origin:Arabic. Meaning:Captivating; Shining one. Fatima is a feminine name of Arabic origin, meaning “captivating” and “shining one.” This gorgeous name is a shining light in Muslim homes, with many parents naming their bundle of joy after the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter.”
Wikipedia reports the name of many Fatimas, throughout history and in the present time. There is a heading: Fatimah, with this first entry: 10 Fatima, also called “Fatima Zahra” (“Fatima the shining one”), daughter of Prophet Muhammad.
Prior to this research I did know one meaning of Fatima: Shining One.”
This is the report of an unusual occurrence, there is at least one witness to this happening.
When: October 24, 2023 18:45
Where: Habaya Market, Kind Fahad Park, Medina
How: It was a total accidental meeting which occurred under these circunstances. I was making my second visit to the Medina Art Museum. I was greeted with great ceremony and enthusiasm. The Director of the Exhibit Paths to Glory and an entire retinue greeted me, gifting me with the exhibition book and other treasures from the Gift Store. There was an aura of expectation that had nothing to do with me. The Prince of was to visit the Art Museum, therefore all other visitors were expelled. Muhammed and I took our leave, but on the way to the car noticed that the Habaya Market was open,. The many women shop owners were gathered in the courtyard drinking home madeArab coffee, dates and treats. Muhammed and I were warmly welcomed, offered Arab coffee, dates, interest and conversation. The women were most curious about me, Muhammed suppled the translation, telling them came to the faith only three years before. They asked my age, I cleverly flashed ten fingers eight times to tell them. One of the women, an older woman looked at my face and said:
She: Your face has light. It shines!
I grasped her hand, and began to weep.
I knew the meaning of my Muslim name and could not believe she had said that. The joyous melee continued. The woman took me to their shops – gifting me with their hand made treasures.
One woman fashioned women’s clothes great beauty, with her own hands. . I was invited to chose a garment, Thinking I would be purchasing the garment a chose one of great beauty, blue with embroidery. What is truly even more amazing is that I knew of the garment’s importance. .
When: September 29, 2023 18:45 pm
Where: A private home in Mecca.
How: I was invited to the home of AK’s mother and family after Friday prayers. I was made to feel so accepted, as if I were one of the family. It became an Islamic instruction gathering, receiving enhanced learning in abolition and prayer for women. As I became of the Islamic Faith during covid my knowledge on these matters is limited. Ak’s mother prays at home. She prayed wearing a garment that totally covered her. Following her prayers she invited me to wear it, to see how it felt. A photograph was taken of me clad from head to toe in her blessed garment.
Therefore on October 24, 2023 I knew of how, and why, I would be wearing the beautiful blue abaya. SO surprisingly, the woman who had fashioned this thing of beauty insisted that it be a gift, refusing money. I was stunned and grateful.
Two days ago I took a photograph of the beautiful treasured garment in an email asking AK to show it to his mother, telling of the whole story of how it was given to me.
He: My mom saw the picture too, and she was equally moved by your story. She called you “white-hearted” once again. Your experiences continue to amaze and inspire us. Take care.
There are four photographs. The woman kissing my forehead is the woman who said my face was a shining light. Another one of me in the market that night in a woman’s clothing store. There is Alexis wearing AK’s mother’s garment worn for prayer. The incredible gift I received, photographed and sent to AK’s mother.