When I was born, people from Malaysia laughed at my parents for naming me ‘Omar Mukhtar’. According to them, it was a backdated name. They said, “You live in England, why would you give him a name like that?”. The funny thing is that living in England, none of the local people who lived here ever made fun of my name, even at school, students and teachers alike. My parents call me by my full name ‘Omar Mukhtar’, or ‘Mukhtar’ for short. I did choose to be called ‘Mukhtar’ at school too, because ‘Omar’ is also my father’s name and it could get confusing. Even though my friends and teachers found it hard in the beginning to pronounce the name ‘Mukhtar’, they didn’t choose to call me ‘Omar’ just because it was easier for them. They all respected my decision and tried their best to pronounce it. They never call me anything I didn’t want to be called.
I love how my parents named all three of us – Omar Mukhtar, Fatimah and Ali. They didn’t simply just say, “Ooh, ‘Omar Mukhtar’ sounds like a nice name, I’m going to call my son that” no, they named us after the owners of the names, hoping that one day, we might become as great a person as they are – Omar Mukhtar, after the famous Lion Of The Desert; Fatimah, after the beloved Prophet’s daughter; and Ali, after the 4th Khalifa in Islam. Our parents always reminded us how important our names are and that we must live up to them. They also told us to be proud of our names and never be ashamed of them, even though some people say they are old-school.
Whenever we go out and people ask all three of our names, they praise our parents for giving us such great names. There is even a teacher from my school who, whenever I pass him, tells me how much he loves my name. He tells me this on a daily basis without fail!
Now, the same thing that happened to me is happening to Fatimah too. People called her ‘Timoh’ and made fun of her name. It made her really upset! She gets annoyed whenever people call her anything other than her full name because at home and at school, everyone always calls her Fatimah. Sadly, the only people who make fun of our names are Malaysian. Some people simply label those who call Fatimah as ‘Timoh’ only from Kelantan or Terengganu. They’re not! They’re actually from all over Malaysia, which has spread to Singapore and Brunei too!
My parents have been telling people for years to call Fatimah properly but they never stopped calling her ‘Timoh’ until my aunt decided that she too has had enough with all this name calling, so she wrote a post about why we called her Fatimah. After this was posted, we received floods of messages from people who went through the same experience as us. It was truly shocking reading their stories and thinking about what effect it must have had on their lives! But sadly, after that, still, there were many who kept on calling her ‘Timoh’ because they say it’s ‘cute and funny’. How rude!
Name-calling is an act of insult and is a form of bullying. I’m surprised how with all this anti-bullying awareness around the world, people still don’t realise that name-calling is an act of bullying! Don’t take name-calling lightly because it’s a very serious matter! It can affect the person really badly on the inside, even though you can’t see it. They may lose their confidence, for example, and that may affect their life in the long run.
They may blame themselves for their problems, which can also lead to loss of confidence. I could go on and on with this list of effects.
As the Head Boy of my school, if anything like this happened, I would strongly go against it as bullying cannot be tolerated in any situation whatsoever! I would also plead to parents and teachers out there to take this matter seriously and do as much as they can to play their role and prevent things like this from repeatedly happening!
Imagine that every day for a week, you went up to a mirror and called yourself something you don’t like being called. It wouldn’t make you feel too good about yourself, would it? That’s exactly how Fatimah feels when she’s called ‘Timoh’, and how I felt when people made fun of my name. Sure, some people don’t do it intentionally, but we’ve been telling them how to call Fatimah correctly, and still, when she’s now already 4 years old, they continue to mock her name!
Honestly, I’m curious why some Malaysians, who are from the same religion as us, mock our names, whereas people from different religions praise them.
So all in all, name-calling? It’s an act of bullying. It’s something that needs to be stopped and together, we can make that happen. Let us build a world where we can feel safe and happy, a world where bullying is a thing of the past! I am an 11-year-old boy in Year 6 whose sister has experienced bad name-calling, so I’m speaking for her and for those who have suffered and are still suffering from the same issue. If we all act as one then maybe, just maybe TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD!
p/s: STOP calling my sister TIMOH. Her name is FATIMAH! She has me on her right and Ali on her left. As for me, I’m not bothered if you don’t like my name because I am OMAR MUKHTAR THE PAWSOME LION!