Monday, May 25, 2015

Arabic Names That Begin With "Sh" or "Ch"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents a partial list of Arabic names that begin with the prefix "sh" or "ch".

This post is part of an ongoing series on distinctive African American names and naming practices. Other posts in this series can be accessed by clicking the "distinctive African American names" tab below.

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural and linguistic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

This pancocojams series provides examples and comments about African American naming traditions, including my speculations about why many African Americans have preferred and, in some cases, still prefer certain prefixes and certain suffixes. For example, it's my premise that the large subset of 19th century and, in particular, 20th & 21st century distinctive Black (African American) names that begin with "sh" or "ch" can be at least partially explained by 1. the existence of a large number of Arabic names and traditional African language names that begin with one of those sounds, and 2. the existence of pre-1960s mainstream American names and distinctive Black American names that begin with one of those sounds and 3. the mass media attention given to some people or products with those names from the 1970s on.

In the late 1960s some African Americans were very interested in finding lists of African names so that we could change our "slave names" (European or Hebrew language birth names) to "free names" (names from Arabic or traditional African languages.) In those early days of the Black power movement with its interest in African cultures there was no internet and lists of African names were hard to come by. I recall people in the Committee For Unified Newark, (the cultural nationalist group that I belonged to which eventually was headed by poet, playwright, activist Amiri Baraka, formerly Le Roi Jones), sharing mimeographed (reprinted) copies of African names that we happened to come by. Many of those names were from the Arabic language and others were from KiSwahili, which is largly based on Arabic.

My theory is that early on African Americans developed a fondness for the "sh" or "ch" sound at least partly because of their memories of Arabic/traditional African names that begin with that sound, or have that sound within the name or at the end of the name (such as the "sha" suffix. prefix)*.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, African Americans who were interested in changing their names to an African name were more likely to find Arabic names than any other African continent names. Those name were considered very acceptable "free names" for afro-centric African Americans, whether we were Muslim or not. The conversion of several African American celebrities (particularly athletes and Jazz musicians) to Islam was one reason why Arabic names became known to African Americans. I'm not aware of any book of African names that was published before The Book of African Names (As Told by Chief Osuntoki) was published in 1970. In 1972 another book of African names was published - Names from Africa: Their Origin, Meaning, and Pronunciation by Ogonna Chuks-orji helped introduce African Americans to names from traditional African languages.

Click for the pancocojams post entitled "Swahili & Igbo Names That Begin With "Sh" or "Ch".

Also, click for the pancocojams post entitled "Jamaican Names That Begin with "Ch" or "Sh""

The history of the Arabic language in Africa is the same as the history of the spread of Islam in Africa. Here's information about that topic:
"Africa was the first continent, outside of Arabia that Islam spread into in the early 7th century. Almost one-third of the world's Muslim population resides in this continent...

Spread of Islam in Africa

On the advice of Muhammad, in Rajab 8BH, or May 614AD, twenty three Muslims migrated to Abyssinia where they were protected by its king, Al-Najashi, who also accepted Islam later. They were followed by 101 Muslims later in the same year. By Muharram 7H, or May 628AD, all those Muslims returned to Medina, but locals who embraced Islam remained there. In 20H/641AD during the reign of Caliph Omar bin al-Khattab, Muslim troops took over current Egypt and conquered current Libya the following year. Muslims then expanded to current Tunisia in 27H/647AD during the reign of the third Muslim Caliph, Othman bin Affan. The conquest of North Africa continued under the Umayyad dynasty, taking Algeria by 61H/680AD, and Morocco the following year. From the latter Muslim troops crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to Europe in 711. Islam gained momentum during the tenth century in West Africa with the start of the Almoravids movement on the Senegal River and as rulers and kings embraced Islam.[citation needed] Islam then spread slowly in much of the continent through trade and preaching.[4] By the ninth century Muslim Sultanates started being established in the Horn of Africa, and by the 12th century the Kilwa Sultanate had spread as far south as Mozambique. Islam only crossed deeper into Malawi and Congo in the second half of the nineteenth century under the Zanzibar Sultanate. Then the British brought their labor force from India, including some Muslim Indian nationals, to their African colonies towards the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries."
That Wikipedia article indicates that "African Islam is not static and is constantly being reshaped by prevalent social, economic, and political conditions. Generally Islam in Africa often adapted to African cultural contexts and belief systems forming Africa's own orthodoxies. [2]"
-end of quote-
Among those African adaptations are examples of certain Arabic derived personal names. For instance, in the Wolof language of Senegal, West Africa "Aminata" is the form of the Arabic female name "Amina" and "Abdou" is the form of the Arabic male name "Abdul".

[Male names]
Sha'ban - Eighth month of the Muslim lunar calendar
Shadi - Singer, enchanter
Shadin - Fawn, young deer
Shafi - Mediator
Shafiq, Shafeeq - Kind, compassionate, tender
Shahid - Witness
Shahin - Hawk
Shahir - Well-known, famous
Shakib - Present, gift, reward
Shakir - Thankful
Shams al Din - Sun of the faith
Shamal - Wind that comes from the north
Shamil - All comprehensive
Shamim - Fragrant
Sharaf - Honor
Sharif, Shareef - Honest, honorable, noble, distinguished
Shawqi - Affectionate
Shihab - Flame, blaze
Shihab al Din - Star of the Faith
Shihad - Honey
Shu'aib, Shu'ayb - A Prophet's name
Shukri - Thankfulness
Shumayl - Complete

[Female names]
Shadan - Young gazelle
Shadha, Shadhaa - Aroma
Shadhiyah - Aromatic
Shadiyah - Singer
Shafiqah - Compassionate, sympathetic
Shahd - Honey, honeycomb
Shahidah - Witness
Shahirah - Well-known, famous
Shahlah - Blush
Shahrazad - Teller of "Tales of 1,001 Nights"
Shakirah - Thankful
Shamilah - Complete, comprehensive
Shams - Sun
Sharifah, Shareefa, Sherrifah - Noble, honored
Shawq - Longing
Shayma, Shaymaa - to look out
Shifa' - Curing, healing
Shimah - Nature, habit
Shiyam - Nature, character
Shudun - Powerful, straight
Shuhrah - Fame, reputation
Shukrah - Thankfulness
Shukriyah - Of thanks
Shuruq - Rising, shining
Note that the Arabic name "'A'ishah, Aisha, Ayishah" (Living, prosperous; youngest wife of the Prophet) includes the "sh" sound. One form of that name is spelled with an apostrophe.

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