Why I Didn’t Change My Name

Before you ask, yes I did change my last name when I married (because it’s a hella-cool name and half the reason I married that guy who is now my husband).

What I’m talking about is changing my name after reverting to Islam.

Some (many? A few? I don’t even know) western Muslim reverts/converts change their names to a more Muslim sounding name after their life change. Like Ayşe instead of Annie,  Elif instead of Erin, etc.  But, as my friends know, I didn’t. I stuck with the name my mother gave me.

If this sounds familiar, you can skip this post.  Ive posted over 200 things on this blog here, and I think I’ve covered this topic before (loosely), but it came up again in my life so I want to address it again.

When I introduced myself to someone new recently, they were surprised I was Muslim (after seeing my name only and meeting me for the first time).  They asked if I go by another name informally, and I said no. They were surprised, since converts change their names (apparently a lot?). 

Did I mention before that the imam that performed our Nikah ceremony (religious marriage) required I pick a “Muslim name” for the purpose of the religious stuff? Hubby got pissed, but it was too late to find another imam so… Yeah, I was Mariam for five minutes. My husbands name isn’t Muslim, it’s Turkish… So… What about him? Meh,  anyway…

Nowhere in the Quran, hadiths, or sunnah (to my knowledge) does it say to change your name. I personally think that changing your name after converting does a huge disservice to Islam. It’s as if you are forcing yourself to fit in a little box that Islam never wanted for you.  “Middle eastern” clothes, names, etc are a culture.  Islam is a religion.  Just because you converted doesn’t mean you have to wear a black Abaya and change your name to Khadija (although she was an amazing woman and should inspire us all!).  I mean,  if you want to you can… But it seems very sad.  Islam is supposed to elevate you to your best level, not change who you are.

So while I did change my lifestyle (I. E. No more drinking, no hanging out with guys outside of work requirements, now wearing hijab), I didn’t change myself.  My clothing style is the same, if not less revealing.  My name is the same.  My hobbies are the same.  I am still me.  But I’m more than me now,  I’m me 2.0.

And me 2.0 doesn’t require a name change.

When The System Doesn’t Work

  Well, I hadn’t announced it on here, but I applied for that job (permit) I had told yall about a month ago.

Come to find out,  I can’t take it.

Why?

Because of Turkey’s back assward system.

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Apparently, if you apply for a work permit while living under a separate residency permit (short term,  family, etc), your new work permit voids your old residency permit.  Regardless of how much time you have left.

Regardless of the giant fee you just paid a few months ago.

Regardless that it’s a shorter residency permit than the one you have.

Nevermind the huge amount of money you had to come up with to get the permit to begin with.

You’d think someone on a family residency permit would, you know, have a family and want to work.

So, when I came to find this out… I had to say no to the job.  I feel like a jerk because they had put in so much effort to get the work permit for me, but I didn’t sign up for voiding my previous permit that I just paid a hefty sum for. No. No good. 

Plus when you take a work based residency, your residency permit is tied to the job.  If you leave the job, you lose your residency permit. I had been so comfortable with knowing that my residency permit wasn’t tied to a working – that if I was wronged in the job I had the freedom to leave and be in the clear.

Well,  if I’m going to be in this kind of risky situation,  I sure as hell need to be paid a lot more.  Plus, if I’m throwing away my expensive family permit, I should be compensated for that.  Maybe I’m not being fair, because it isn’t the fault of the job that this happened.  It’s the fault of the system.

But I can’t put myself at risk because I feel bad for the company. I have to look out for me.

I hate this.

So it’s back to staring at white walls for me. One more step closer to insanity.

“Maybe you should change it up”

When I lived in the US as a hijabi (roughly a year), I didn’t go through any particularly difficult trials due to my scarf.  Sure, people would give me weird looks (that I never noticed), and maybe thought something strange…but it never truly impacted my interaction with other people.  Honestly, I expected a bit of trouble- but nothing bad happened.  Allah sukur.

Maybe I’m particularly lucky/blessed, or my white privilege over-rode the hijab.  Either way, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we started packing our bags to move to a predominantly Muslim country.  Surely my outward display of faith won’t cause problems there.

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Ha. Ha. Ha.

As I described previously, Turkish people are not actually people- but walking, talking, political opinions (something I particularly loathe about Turkey).  While I was constantly surrounded by people of many different opinions and backgrounds, I never felt that their ideologies should impact how we treat each other.  For instance, I have no problem being friends and hanging out with atheists, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, even wiccans/witches (as one of my friends calls it- a game of friend bingo).  As long as we have respect for each other and don’t cross boundaries- it’s all good here.  I don’t expect everyone else to abide by the rules I guide my own life by.

But oh no, not in Turkey.

 This became painfully obvious as we prepared for a rather political trip.  We would potentially be visiting with politicians/gov’t officials, and therefore we made special preparations.  Nice clothes, a splash of perfume, everything actually matched…

And then, Anne suggested I wear my headscarf differently, in a less obvious/more Turkish-culture turban style.  At first I thought I misunderstood, my Turkish only being mediocre.  I asked hubby what it is she said…and he felt that the statement needed no translation, because it was silly.

 Oh, so I heard right.

  While I know she was saying this from a place of love, it still made my blood boil.  Who are these people, these people who think they can judge me based on how I wrap my scarf around my neck.  What do they think they know about me because I chose to cover?  It almost makes me laugh.  But only almost.  Many people think that the current government is particularly religious, making things easier for religious conservatives and harder for liberals.  Most of this chatter comes from the latter.

 As a moderate conservative (religiously, but don’t assume you know my politics), let me tell you…that’s not true.  Particularly when it comes to the gov’t, it’s hard for everyone.  Turkey is going through a lot of growing pains, and everyone has to struggle through it.

But I have a suggestion.

Instead of drawing a line in the sand, lets all just be people.  Lets do our own things, in our own houses, and stop sticking our nose in everyone else’s business.  Because we aren’t politics. We are people.

Meh, fat chance.