Who Has The Right To Name Your Child?
‘We Learn Through The Qur’an That It Was The Grandmother Of Jesus That Named His Mother, Maryam, At Birth’
(Prof. Dawud O.S. Noibi, Executive Secretary/CEO Muslim Ummah of Southwest Nigeria, MUSWEN)
NAMING of a child is a natural phenomenon and a necessity in life. Society will be in total confusion if one person can’t be distinguished from another by name. Allah Himself gave the first man, Adam, a name (Qur’an 2:31-37). Why should we, his descendants, not have our respective names?
In Islam, parents have the prerogative to choose a name for their child. Though traditionally, the father makes the decision, it is proper that it is a joint resolution of both parents. Indeed, we learn through the Qur’an that it was the grandmother of Jesus that named his mother, Maryam, at birth (Qur’an 3:36). Even where a grandfather is traditionally given the honour to choose a name for his grandchild, in practice, he usually does so in consultation with the actual parents of the child.
Lastly, spiritual and moral values guide a Muslim in choosing the name of his or her newborn baby. The name should either reflect a relationship with Allah, such as Abdullah (servant of Allah), Abdur Rahman (servant of the Most Gracious) or that of a Prophet of God, such as Muhammad, Adam, Ibrahim, Musa (Moses), or ‘Isa’ (Jesus), among others. It could be the name of any other righteous person, such as Maryam, Khadijah, Aishah, or that of an angel, such as Jibril (Gabriel).
In all these cases, the idea is the desire and hope that the child would grow looking forward to attainting the attributes of a spiritually and morally worthy role model.
‘Grandparents Have A Say’
(Bishop Dr. Chibuzo Raphael Opoko, TFG Secretary of Conference, Methodist Church Nigeria)
THE parents submit the names of the child to the priest before the priest pronounces it. Even when you are doing infant baptism or child dedication, parents are usually asked: “What is the child’s name?” And the parents would affirm: “This is the name to be given to the child.” The pastor will then proclaim to the whole congregation the name of the child.
In traditional societies, it varies. Some grandparents give names. Parents also do. And that is why, sometimes, you have children that have up to four or five names. Even adults have up to five names. For instance, I am: Chibuzo Raphael Ngozi Opoko. Now, I’m not using Ngozi. My grandmother gave it to me. My father gave me ‘Chibuzo’, and it was the same name the church baptised me with.
Everything is in a name; it is your identity. And depending on the way you see it, a name is something parents give to their children, which may signify something. When they gave me ‘Chibuzo’, my father said: “God first and God is the way.” Raphael means, ‘God heals’. When I was given ‘Ngozi’, my grandmother said: “I’m a blessing.”
A name has a lot to it. I know in the English culture, you have things, like Mr. Wood, Greengrass, and so on. But in Igboland, names are very powerful. Names signify identity; they show where you come from. That does not mean people cannot adopt names. Sometimes, a change of name can occur and people might decide to bear other things. In Igboland, when they give you ‘Chukwuebuka’, that shows that God has done mighty things. When they give you ‘Chibuike’, that shows that God is the King, God is powerful and almighty.
I name my daughter ‘Pamela’, which means ‘sweet fragrance’. I was at the Leprosy Centre in Uzuakoli and at the Motherless Babies Home when a group of white people came and donated materials meant to put joy in the faces of babies. The lady who led the group is called Pamela. That was the day my wife gave birth to a girl and I named her Pamela. Her first Igbo name is ‘Ijeoma’, a name given to her after my late eldest sister that passed on many years ago.
Circumstances and situations determine the name you give to your child because in Igboland and culture, you don’t just give a name anyhow. A name shows your identity; it can also show your culture. Names that tend to show language may also indicate the geographical location you come from. It can also exemplify your religious belief.
A child’s name is given during dedication. But there are people who after circumcision of the child hold what is called a naming ceremony. In that event, the father and others, who have agreed among themselves to give a name to a child, do so. And even in that case, the godfather can decide to give a name.
I called one of my children ‘Anyaele’ because there was a one Anyaele who assisted me greatly. That year, he gave me a vehicle and supported the work of God I was doing. I said, ‘this is God’s gift’. And I called him Anyaele. It depends on what people term dedication. And in the process of dedicating a child to God, you must give him or her a name.
‘Condition Of Birth Is A Factor’
(Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael Olusina Fape, Bishop, Diocese of Remo, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion)
NAME, whether of living or non-living things, is a form of identification; and it has a divine origin. This is evident from the account of creation in Genesis 1 and 2.
Within the Yoruba cultural setting, the conditions surrounding one’s birth may determine choice of a name. The family lineage may also determine, especially if the child is born into a royal home. Name can also come by way of a prophetic message, just as it was with some Biblical characters, such as Samson (Judges 13), John the Baptist (Luke 1:13); and Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:21).
Among the Yoruba, though the decision to give particular names to a child may be the initiative of both parents, at the point of naming, the honour is that of the father, acting on behalf of the entire family. In other words, at a Christian naming ceremony, the father hands over the list containing the names to the officiating priest who, in turn, makes public pronouncement of the names of the new child for the first time.
Names are to be cherished. They speak volumes about family background and circumstances of birth. And what an individual would accomplish on earth might be inspired by a name. However, names do not carry any magic wand. Even when good Biblical names are given, one needs to still work out his “salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).
‘Spiritual People Eye Prophetic
(Primate Theophilus Olabayo, Spiritual Founder of the Evangelical Church of Yahweh, Mary Land, Lagos)
THE parents think of a name to be given to a child. And having done so, the name is handed to the priest or pastor.
You can’t just pick a name and give it to a child. Giving a name depends on circumstances. If the parents attend a spiritual church, where prophecy is recognised, then a prophecy concerning that child may come from the prophet or man of God.
Sometimes, parents may be looking for a child for a time and God sends a prophet to them who after prayer says, ‘you are going to have a male child’. And when the child is born his name could either be Samuel, who is going to serve the Lord. So, it depends on what God is doing for that family. Sometimes, God gives a name to a prophet concerning a child.
When you pray for somebody who is looking for a child and God hears the person’s cry, God may tell the parent, ‘the baby you are about to deliver will be somebody that is going to serve the Lord’. That could be ‘Samuel’ or ‘Emmanuel’. If it is in a spiritual church, God can send the name, through the prophet, to the family, saying that the child is going to be one of destiny or a child that is going to be famous or a child that will work for the Lord. And he shall be called or named Samuel. Not every child will receive this type of prophecy; these are peculiar instances.
At times, parents may decide to name their children. Sometimes, too, people name their children ‘Babatunde’, believing that a forefather that died had come back to life again. Sometimes, it might be that one of the couple, like the man, died when the wife was pregnant. In such a situation, a family might just call the child ‘Babatunde’ – ‘father has come back to life’. At times, a child might also be named after its grandfather.
‘Child’s Future Tied To Name’
(His Eminence (Dr.) Emmanuel Josiah Udofia, Primate of the African Church/President, Christian Council of Nigeria)
GIVING a name to a child by a priest or minister depends on the kind of denomination involved. Here is a child that God has given to you and you have to prepare to give that child a name, depending on how you feel in your heart and how much you appreciate God’s goodness.
The process of naming a child depends on the parents. For instance, if a person wants to go by the doctrinal eight days, after the birth of a child, there would be a naming ceremony organised for the baby. On that day, the minister will ask the parents, what name they wish to give the child. Afterwards, the father would present a name and prayer would be made for the child and the entire family. This is the church’s process in naming a child. The pastor or minister of God does not give names; parents of the child do. It is the name the parents give to the pastor/minister that he makes public.
The name someone bears means a lot in Africa. We attach much importance to names. For instance, if a boy or girl is born during a festive period, like Easter, such might be called ‘Esther’ or ‘Goodnews’ because of the message of Easter to humanity. And again, if a child is born on Sunday, such might be called ‘Sunday’. Some communities name a child after particular events, to remind them of what took place. Also, if a couple experienced terrible things in life, and a child is born to them at such time, they may call the baby a comforting name, one that shows God has consoled them.
Someone might have a Christian name but if he does not have a relationship with God, it would be meaningless because it is the life of God that brings transformation, not the name a person bears. Again, you don’t name a child anyhow because the name you give is very important; some names attract blessings. A name can bring a blessing to a child but it can also mar the child’s future. In most cases, the father gives the name. In other cases, the man consults his wife and they both come up with a name. But it is the man that makes the name public.
‘Naming Insignificant, Preaching Of Gospel Paramount’
(Pastor Lazarus Muoka, General Overseer, The Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Ministries Worldwide)
IN this ministry, we do not attach importance to child naming. What we do here is preach the gospel to the people and win more souls for God.
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