African Muslim Names

Sharifa M. Zawawi
A name reflects and reinforces an identity both when it is given and when it is changed. This book discusses the social and cultural significance of African Muslim proper names. It explains how names are chosen for newborns in African societies and the value they represent. In these days of mounting interest in identity and culture, many Muslim Africans, African-Americans and others wish to know the meanings of the names they choose so that they reflect their aspirations for their children and themselves.The book contributes cultural knowledge to today's discourse on the values and aspiration of people of different faiths. Given the long history of Islam in Africa, Muslim names communicate an old civilization encompassing a multicultural community. The book also documents African language contact throughout the continent. The world is both united and divided by its languages and their vocabularies and is similarly united and divided by names. Sharifa Zawawi draws on history, linguistics, anthropology and religion to provide a study of Muslim personal names in the context of family relationships, adoption, marriage, conversion, and social movements. The work first examines Muslim names and naming in the Qur'aan and in stories or traditions about the Prophet Muhammad. Secondly, it uses contemporary African publications, literature, journalism and telephone directories from west and east Africa and lists of names compiled by Africans living in west and east Africa. The African Muslim names to be found here come mainly from two languages; Hausa-Fulani and Kiswahili -- the two major African languages spoken by millions of people throughout the African continent.


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