This evening, as I “dutifully”* folded a few items of clothing, a thought occurred to me. The topic: in Islam, a married woman keeps her maiden name. On the surface that seems simple, but symbolically there is so much more to a name than mere letters scribbled on a sheet of paper. A name is an identity. It is the right to stay a “Ms. Jones” instead of becoming a “Mrs. Smith”; to wear a green apron even if the other Mrs. Smiths wear purple aprons; to have pierced ears even if the other Mrs. Smiths only pierce their eyebrows; to cook brownies like your mom (from a box) even if all the other Mrs. Smiths bake their brownies from scratch and put butterscotch pieces in them! SubhanAllah, it’s a protection of our individual identity that is rarely afforded in contemporary society (whatever religious tradition you label “contemporary society” with). Admittedly, there is something to be said about the virtues of pleasing one’s husband in Islam, but even in that very regard we (Muslim women) still keep our names (our INDIVIDUAL identities), and subhanAllah there’s more freedom in that than one can truly account for!
* Dutifully was not placed in quotes to signify sarcasm; the quotes were intended to play off traditional stereotypes–and for the record, the clothes were almost all my own, so it really was a necessary duty that had to be done.