Sunday, March 7, 2010

What's in a Name?

Amina Liana

When we named Amina something happened that I did not anticipate. Even though I love her names and the meaning and story behind the names I kept feeling unworthy of naming her and so aware of the awesome responsibility of naming another person. How could I possibly assign a name to something so complex, so precious as a soul? A name follows someone for life and we couldn't even ask her if she liked the names we picked for her. It was a weighty responsibility and I felt it strongly in a way that I had not anticipated. But a name must be picked, and I stand by our choice. She will make of her name whatever she wishes. And we gave her two names that contain many possible nicknames within them, so she has options. :)

Amina, we tried to pick a name as special as you are:

Amina is a name from the Arabic world, the name of the mother of the prophet Muhammad. It is derived from the Arabic word aamina which means, in essence, to feel safe, peaceful, and secure, to always be protected. The name is also recognized as meaning honest, truthful, trustworthy, and faithful.

You were named after a little eight-year-old girl named Amina who lived in a village called Makunduchi on the island of Zanzibar. Zanzibar Amina is all grown up now, probably married with children of her own. She has a very beautiful smile and there is a very special story about her.

One evening, in the summer of 2001, your daddy was visiting and interviewing a family near Makunduchi a good distance away from his home. It got dark before he realized that his flashlight did not work. He has always had a very hard time seeing in the dark and knew that he could not find his way home without help. Not to worry, a group of children your daddy had befriended gathered around him, all of them willing to help. Little Amina stepped up, took him by the hand and guided him through the dark for about half a mile to the main road until he was able to find his way home.

Liana is a name derived from the Hebrew Eliana, which means God has answered. It is also a French name that means to twine around or to bind together. In English, Liana is the name of the type of climbing, intertwining vines that connect the trees of the rainforest and provide a network for animals to walk and swing safely from tree to tree without ever having to touch the ground.

So, in short, these names in combination mean very special things to us that we hope to remember when we say them. And we hope you like them, Amina!

Here is a picture of the Amina who helped guide your daddy through the dark that night. Who knew that one day we would have our very own little Amina who can see so well in the dark. Now it is your turn to take your daddy by the hand and guide him when he can not see.


  1. What beautiful meanings behind her name. She is so beautiful!

  2. What a fun idea to tell Amina where her name came from.

  3. That is such a beautiful post Laura! How are you all doing, by the way?