Calling people by offensive nicknames is nothing new to our society. That was a norm in past, and it continues to be followed with some modifications. Our ethical and religious teachings prohibit us from calling offensive nicknames. The Prophet of Allah (SAW) is reported to have said that it is the right of a Muslim to call his fellow Muslim by good names and titles which they like best. (Maariful Quran p 135 v 8)
If we get on the social media and browse the names that people use under the pretext of anonymity, you will be surprised. Nicknames like The Killer, Crazy Man, Tsunami etc. all it connotes is something unpleasant.
Calling people with offensive nicknames, which means to call a person with a name that he hates, is unethical. Almighty says in Quran… and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent — then it is those who are the wrongdoers. (Chapter 49 verse 11)
Calling offensive nicknames hurts the feelings of any person, but when we relate the same with the disability of a person it becomes more derogatory. In our society we never pronounce full names or call people with good names. This has been witnessed in our social fabric for generations. Ghulam Mohammad used to be known as Gulla, Mohammad Sultan as Sulla, Abdullah would be called Oubdeya or Mohiudeen as Mahda. Similarly among women Zainab is called Zaina , Fouzia is called Fazi or Rehmat is nicknamed as Rehat. These names are prevalent even now especially in rural Kashmir. People would never mind when they would be called like Gulla or Sulla for many years, but when education became common people realized these were not the good names. Unfortunately government school teachers and revenue officials in particular, during the days of yore, would register these nicknames in official documents in schools and land revenue records. On the other hand when some influential man’s son or daughter would be admitted in a school, his or her name would not be entered like Sulla or Rehti. Kashmiri pandits and Peers would take utmost care about the names of their children. This was because of better education within this community.
Taunting villagers or Gujjars
Quran further says, O you who believe, let not people ridicule each other, perhaps they may be better than them nor let women ridicule other women perhaps they may be better than them. And Don’t insult one another and don’t call each other by offensive nicknames . Wretched is the name of disobedience after one’s faith. Whoever does not repent that it is those who are the wrong doers.
People are even taunted for being financially weak (shikasladd) or belonging to Gujjar community or even a name like Gamukk would be used to taunt people belonging to remote villages. When a man from far off place commits some mistake in the city or a town he is called Gujray or Gamkya (an ignorant villager)
One of the main factors for the debate over nicknames is the way people use them nowadays. Human creativity improved, and that has reflected in the way we give nicknames. Giving nicknames may not be all that bad, but it should be good names. To make the nicknames further displeasing and annoying, Gulla is called Gulle Loung if he suffers from polio or has an amputated leg. If Sultan has a defective eye , he is called Sulle Koun, if Abdullah is a bit overweight he is called Obed Wetha and Mohiudeen is called Mahad Khourr if he is bald. As a sign of hypocrisy we do use words like sahib (Sultan sahib , Gulla sahib etc) with names in front of people but when the person is not with us, we continue to call them with ridiculous names. In many places people won’t be identified at all unless their nicknames are not used. Let us take a pledge to stop insulting people by calling them with hateful nicknames…..