Saturday, December 04, 2004


Maybe you will find this post a little strange for you, but it is worth to read.

When you call someone, you either call him by his first name or using his/her family name with Mr. Mrs. or Miss before it. According to your knowledge of that person.

In Iraq it’s a little different. You call him/her with the first name but after getting married and have a child you call him with his/her son/daughter name but you put the word Abu which means ‘Father of’ like Abu Ali means father of Ali and if he has a daughter you call him Abu Zainab for example. For mothers you put the word Um before the name of the child which means ‘mother of’. It’s done to show more respect than using his/her first name especially for old people. I know many people by their Abu or Um and I don’t know their real names, because they don’t use them any more.

For me I like to be called by my name (which I’m not going to tell you what it is) but in the shops near my house, some neighbors and some friends they use to call me with my daughter’s name, I feel so old when they call me like this, but they will not accept to call me with my first name it’s like insulting or something like that.

If your first child was a daughter and later you have a son , people will start to call you with your son’s name instead of the daughter’s, some parents refused to change that (I agree with them, what’s wrong with a girl!)

If you are old and you don’t have any children for any reason, no problem we have prepared some names that suite some common males names, for examples: if your name is Mohammed, your alias name will be Abu Jasim. and this name comes because our prophet had a boy named Kasim and died when he was young (and later Kasim turned into Jasim). If your name is Khaled, your alias name will be Abu Waleed and this comes from the great Arab army leader Khaled bin Al Waleed. and if your name is Ali your alias name will be Abu Hussien since Imam Ali’s son was Hussien. and so on. If you have uncommon name your alias name will be Abu yaqoob (Jacob). But we don’t have alias names for females, so when a man calls an old female or calls a woman, he calls her either Hijia ( I explained that below),or Ukhti which means my sister ( if she was younger than him) or ‘Sit’ and it’s something similar to Mrs. and sometimes madam and you know what does it mean.

I decided to write this post when I read some comments in Abu Khaleel’s blog and most of the people who wrote the comments they used the name Abu (thinking that this was his first name) with out the full name, it should be written Abu Khaleel as a one name.
It is worth mentioning that Iraqi soldiers were also called Abu Khaleel for some reason.

For an old persons, who we don’t know his/her alias name, or meet for the first time, we call him/her haji/hijia. and this name is usually given to a person after he/she goes to Mecca for pilgrimage.

PS: My next post will be on Depleted Uranium (DU).


Blogger Carrie said...

So in Walt Disney's Movie Aladdin.. the Monkey named Abu is just bad grammar on their part. Hmmmm... makes you wonder what kind of research they do before writing their scripts. I'm sorry Rose for whatever comments have been made that are rude. It is true that people will have opinions and many people will go on believing what they want to.. or what is fed to them via media. But I have a relatively plain old blog, my life.. nothing extremely amazing about it, and I have had to block many a users from my site because they not only disagreed with me, but chose to try to intimidate me. First off.. the world is full of all different people and unfortunately, many are jackasses. Secondly, opinions can vary, we are a diversified world. But that doesn't give anyone the right to look down on or judge anyone else. If you have any continued problems with commentors try ... Yes, you will lose all your current comments, but with Haloscan you can log onto their site, pull up ALL comments written.. and Delete the ones you don't want, as well as BLOCK the IP addresses of offenders. It's sad that something like that has to be in use, but the world is big, and too many people in it are narrow minded. You just keep blogging your world as you see it.

2:31 AM  
Blogger Diogenes Of Pumpkintown said...

Rose, thank you for that information.

I'm afraid I am one of the people you are talking about, having assumed that Abu Khaleel's first name was "Abu".

Oh well, live and learn.

7:02 PM  
Blogger KT said...


Enjoyed the post. Suppose it's something you get used to, but it seems very confusing. We kind of do the same thing is some ways. It always used to amuse me that after being married I was introduced as X's wife. When the first kid came along, I became X's mom. Second and third kid was the same. Wondered if anyone was ever going to see me as myself, but you get used to it. Suppose people just want to make the connection of who belongs to who. Must say something about our station in life or something.

Keep blogging because we all enjoy reading your opinions.

8:34 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I did know about Abu and Umm, but it's nice to have it explained so well and most non-Arabs don't know. But for variety, what shall we call you, Rose? Perhaps if I want a change from Rose, I will think of your daughter as your Rosebud. So then you will be Umm-Rosebud. How's that?

And would you tell us sometime about what was good and what was bad before the war? Was life under Saddam as terrible as we hear? Obviously in some ways--especially security and just having a lot of foreigners around shooting and running everything--it is worse now.

Other than those things, though, was Saddam as horrible to live under as they say? Was there constant fear of another kind? Or were most people safe and happy as long as they didn't complain to their neighbors and friends or try to work against the government? What do you think? How do you feel?


9:30 PM  
Blogger Abu Khaleel said...

Dear Rose,

Thank you for the clarification regarding the "Abu" business... although being called "Abu" is a constant source of amusement for me!

I enjoy reading your posts.

2:06 AM  
Blogger Jan said...

hi, about the Abu thing, it's strange that especially the Americans don't know anything about the pre-name word Abu. Don't they know the Palestinian Abu Abbas? They spoke with him all the time.
What I don't understand is Saddam Hussein had several sons. Had he also had the name Abu .......? He wasn't Abu Jasim.
Spoken about Jasim, Once there was a sheik Jasim (eliminated by the Israeli army). Was he an Abu Jasim?

And the scary prison Abu Graib, who was the man with that name? I know before the bad things with the American soldiers and prisoners the Abu Graib prison had a bad name too.

Finally, long ago we had also names to relate with anchestor/parents.
Our famous painter Rembrandt van Rhijn for example. His second name was Harmensz, son of Harmen.
However in your culture you might pay respect to the child. In my culture we pay respect to the parent. In the North European, Anglo Saksian culture one has to earn respect, though in the South European culture you have repect from the day you're born.

Keep on writing and explaining cauz there is a lot of misunderstanding in the world.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi rose, does this mean that terrorists like abu amar, abu mazen, abu ala etc all had kids by these names?


1:11 PM  
Blogger rose said...

Abu Mazin, Abu Abbas are code names, I don’t know if they have sons in that names or not (they probably don’t). About Saddam’s alias name he was called Abu Udai, since his oldest son was Udai.
As for Abu Graib, I don’t really know where it comes from.

11:24 PM  
Blogger Brenda said...

Oh wow! That is one of the most interesting things I've learned in quite a while. Thanks, Rose!

4:22 PM  
Blogger MsNeuman said...

Oh Brenda I agree! I heard about this briefly on another blog, but not in such detail, I hope I can commit all this new knowledge on names to memory.
Thank you very much rose.
You know whay eles I'd like to know more about...
The MAIL in Iraq, Fayrouz told me a bit about it quite awhile back, and I was amazed. I just couldn't imagine not getting mail unless I bribed the mailman!
We are completely dependant on the mail here in the US.
I find these things facinating, keep up the good work Rose.
Blessings Always

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Blogger mewmewmew said...

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