On naming teddy bears

Apparently anxious to defy the stereotypes, some Sudanese protesters are now calling for Mrs Gillian Gibbons, the 54 year old teacher whose students chose the name ‘Muhammad’ for their class mascot, to be killed.

Hundreds of Sudanese Muslims have taken to the streets of Khartoum demanding death for the British school teacher convicted of insulting Islam after her class named a teddy bear Mohammad.

It’s no wonder then that Latin phrases such as civis Romanus sum and its more modern equivalent civis Britannicus sum are experiencing a revival; or that calls are being made for a cessation of aid to Sudan in retaliation for their treatment of a British citizen.

Needless to say, the circumstances seem so bizarre, it is hard to believe that this is really all about the teacher and the teddy bear. As one former student of the school writes of the current Sudanese government, it is “prickly, obstreperous and wont to childish displays of inferiority complexes” so maybe Mrs Gibbons is just a pawn in all this.

What is clear, however, is that much of the discussion around it being completely and utterly forbidden for teddy bears to be given the same name as Prophets is somewhat misinformed. There is a reason, for example, why we haven’t seen the hordes calling for the people selling Adam the Muslim Prayer Bear or Adam’s World to be decapitated.

Sheikh Salman al-’Awdah’s Islam Today provides a timely answer to the question:

Ever since this issue about the teddy bear named Muhammad has surfaced, I have grown concerned. I never thought about the issue like that before. I want to know what the ruling is. I have videos of “Adam’s World” with a very fanciful looking puppet named Adam who teaches children about Islam. Is it right or wrong to name plush toys and puppets with the names of prophets? If not, should I dispose of these videos? Also, my daughter has named her plush toys with different names. She has a toy horse named Ahmed, a toy cat named Aisha, and a toy rabbit named Muhammad – these are the names of her uncles and her aunt. Is this alright? Am I sinning by letting her keep these names for her toys?

Here is the answer.

Other Muslim blogs on the issue: Indigo Jo, Osama Saeed.