When my daughter was a year old, it became very clear that I would not be able to satisfy her companionship needs. She needed someone whose only responsibility was to play with her. She needed a sibling. It was wonderful when my husband and I found out that our daughter would soon have a brother.
As with our daughter, we made a list of names that might suit our son. It may seem cliché to some, but my list was short, ‘Abdullah, ‘Abdul-Rahman, and Muhammed. These were the most valuable names in the world to me. The first two were included because of a saying of Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him):
Of all names, those which Allah likes most are ‘Abdullah and ‘Abdul-Rahman. (Muslim)
With their meanings being "slave of Allah" and "slave of The Gracious", one could only hope that a child given one of these names would live up to it. But for some reason my husband preferred "Muhammed". Truly giving our son this name would be no small matter. I was overjoyed at the thought of my child joining the ranks of all those before him that were given this name in remembrance of the Last Prophet.
I prayed that as my son grew into a man that he would strive to honor his name with righteousness and good conduct, with piety and honesty, and with dignity and humility. I prayed he would be compelled by his name to always remember who he was, a Muslim from the nation of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh). I prayed he would be spiritually, mentally, and physically strong like the one after which he was named. I prayed my son would strive to deserve his name.
For sure this was not a popular name in the United States at the time, but we were not concerned with popularity or acceptance of our decision. Choosing this name for our son was a matter of principle and great significance. We wanted this name to be on our lips, in our hearts, and to reach the ears of those who had not heard it before. By speaking it, we would remember our prophet, his example, his wisdom, and most importantly his obedience to Allah. It was a way to give greater meaning to our son's life as well as ours.
Unfortunately, time has shown that some people do not grasp the importance of remembering the source of this name. A couple years ago after moving from the US to Turkey, we encountered some strange responses to my son's name. People were reluctant to speak it even though there is a hadith that tells that this is a good thing:
Jabir b. 'Abdullah reported that a child was born to a person from the Ansar and he made up his mind to give him the name of Muhammad. He came to Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) and, asked him (about it), whereupon he said: The Ansar have done well to give the name (to their children) after my name, but do not give them the kunya after my kunya. (Muslim)
Still some people wanted to use another name for my son. They told us things like if they yelled at my son using this name it would be disrespectful of the Prophet. Of course this is not the case. On the contrary, using this name should be a reminder for everyone, the bearer of the name as well as those who speak it, to guard their conduct.
One day on the basketball court near our house, a teenager from among our neighbors proved the need for the use of this name most precisely. He said to my son, "You know why I don't like to call you ‘Muhammed'. It's because when I curse at you, it would be wrong." My son couldn't believe his ears! Someone almost ten years older than him didn't get that this was exactly why he should use this name, so that this fellow Muslim would remember not to use profanity, so that he would remember whose example he was supposed to be trying to follow, and so he would remember that it was his duty to be a worthy member of the nation of Believers. May Allah guide us all not only to know this name but also to love and honor the best of mankind, Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him) by imitating his righteousness, morality, and obedience to the Creator and Sustainer of the Worlds.
After all, there will come a day very soon that each one of us will want this name to easily flow from our souls onto our tongues. As Abu Hurairah related from the Prophet:
When a dead person is buried, there come to him two angels, called Munkar and Nak'ir, who ask him what he thought of this man [Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him]. If he is a believer, he replies, "He is the slave and the messenger of Allah. I testify that there is no god except Allah, and Muhammed (pbuh) is Allah's messenger." The grave is then expanded and illuminated for him, and he is told to sleep. He says, "Let me return to my family, so that I may tell them," but he is told to sleep like a bridegroom who is awakened only by the most beloved member of his family, until Allah raises him up from that resting place. But if he is a hypocrite or an unbeliever, he will say, "I heard people saying something, so I said it also, but I do not know." "We knew you would say this," they tell him. The earth is then told to press in upon him, and it does so. His ribs are pressed together and he continues to suffer punishment in this way until Allah raises him up from that resting place. (Tirmidhi)
Let us be among those who know this name.