Teddy bears and blasphemy

Giving us a little intercultural perspective, Friendly Atheist asks: Why is it blasphemy to call a teddy bear Mohammed but ok to give that name to a Muslim child? What are the naming rules in Islam? He goes to Slate for the answer – and it’s very illuminating.

But if you’re in the Middle East, you won’t ever hear anyone calling out, “Hey, Mohammed” to a friend on the street.

And for all that (some) Americans are saying “Hey, Jesus is a name, too…” How many Anglo-Americans name their kid “Jesus”? And you never hear an English speaking parent yell, “JESUS! IF YOU DON’T GET YOUR BUTT OUTTA THAT PUDDLE I’M GOING TO TURN IT BLACK AND BLUE! JESUS! YOU HEAR ME?!?!?”

Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. Cuz you know Bill Donahue (aka the Entire Catholic League) would be all over that Mother’s backside.

Huw Richardson wroted this on December 4th, 2007

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Category: other paths

2 Responses to “Teddy bears and blasphemy”

December 4th, 2007 at 11:01 pm

True. But how many Hispanic-Americans are named “Jesus”? Let’s also not forget about people like Muhammad Ali, or Mohammed Al Fayed (father of Dodi, Princess Diana’s beau), Mohamed Atta (9/11 hijacker), Omer Mohammed Ahmed Siddig (Sudanese ambassador), Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf (Saddam’s famous Information Minister), etc. etc. Are we to believe that none of these ever goes by his given name (and didn’t either as a child)?

But anyhow, on a different aspect of the case … I want to know how long it will take for the Sudanese court to give the bitter lady–who was dismissed from the school and caused the whole row just to get the school closed–the same sentence that was initially imposed on the British woman? After all, she has brought far more disrepute all around the world for Sudan and for Islam than the British woman could possibly have.

December 5th, 2007 at 12:07 am

I think the point of the slate article was that there are different cultural expectations. Here in the west, for example, we have some trouble telling Asian First Names from Family Names. I think, to follow the same line, *we* might refer to many of them by the M name… but do *they* in their private lives? And are they just too polite to correct us? Or have they been partially westernised in they they allow their first names to be used?

I don’t know the answer. I’m willing to believe someone when they tell me a given culture is different: and even more willing to believe when they point out that Westerners have it wrong.

The Latino culture has a very different usage of “Hesus” than do Anglos. That was why “anglo” was noted. The same is true of many English Speaking cultures – but also of other ones: How many Orthodox baptismal names are Jesus or Christ?

Semitic cultures, I notice (and Christians following) will allow a reference to God in the name: eg Raphael. But no one is named “Adonai” or “Theos”. Nor our teddy bears.