Friday, June 02, 2017

It's Me....

I've always said that naming my children was harder than giving birth to them. Their names were important - more than likely they would have them all of their lives. It was hard to decide what they should be called. My name, or at least what I am called, has evolved over time. 

Officially, my name is Therese Martin, when I married my husband I decided that in traditional Muslim fashion I would keep my surname because after all, I only married him, he doesn't own me. Keeping my name meant keeping my identity. Since I was a child my family and friends always called me Teri or sometimes Teri-Anne. Therese was always kept for official things and that turned out to be quite useful. For example, if anyone ever telephoned asking for Therese, I immediately knew it wasn't friend or family and I would reply "Can I take a message?'  However, after I moved to Libya things changed and I became known as Khadija.

The name Khadija needs a bit more explanation. When I became Muslim (in 1982) the mosque prepared a certificate for me and at that time asked me if I would like to choose an Islamic name as some people like to do so when they make this life changing event. I thought about it for a while and chose the name Khadija. I never had my name officially changed, but  I  began using the name after I traveled to Libya. Let me explain....

Khadija is the name of Prophet Mohamed's first wife. She was a very successful and wealthy business woman and merchant. Her caravans equaled the amount of all the other caravans of the Quraish put together. The Quraish was a tribe comprised of 14 clans that inhabited Arabia and controlled Mecca.  Khadija was known by the by-names Ameerat-Quraysh ("Princess of Quraysh"), al-Tahira ("The Pure One") and Khadija Al-Kubra (Khadija "the Great"). She never traveled on her caravans, instead she hired others to trade on her behalf for a commission.  She hired Mohamed who was at the time 25 years old - this was before he received the Message. She was so impressed by Mohamed that she proposed marriage to him even though she was about 15 years older than him. When Mohamed received the Message she became the first Muslim woman. She remained married to him until her death 25 years later. He never married another woman until after she died even though polygamy was usual at that time. 

Khadija was a woman before her time - wealthy, successful, educated, married a handsome man much younger than herself, the first Muslim woman... What better name to choose?

After I arrived in Libya I found that people had trouble pronouncing my name. When they called me Teri they rolled the 'r' and it sounded like the word they use when they are on a donkey and want to make it go faster - Terrrri! Terrri! So I tried Therese, but they mangled it and made it sound like they were saying 'idreese' which is the Arabic word meaning 'men'. That's when I decided that I would just have everyone there call me Khadija and it worked perfectly!

Later on, I met another American woman in Libya who was also called Khadija - but she had taken it one step further and had her name legally changed to Khadija. Every time anyone in the expat community talked about either of us they would ask 'Which Khadija?" and if it was me the response would be KhadijaTeri. When I started my website (a few years before I started blogging) I called it Khadija Teri. I'll answer to Teri, Khadija or KhadijaTeri, but I still save Therese for formal occasions. Many Libyans know me as Mrs Khadija - the American woman that teaches English and does IELTS preparation courses. I have had hundreds of students over the years (something I am very proud of).

This calligraphy that spells out Khadija Teri was made by a blogger called Libya Gharian... sadly his blog no longer exists, but I am honored that someone took the time to create this especially for me and I keep it on the sidebar of my blog. 


  1. I always wondered where did the name Khadija came from! And terrri!! That's funny!

  2. By chance I found myself here, and by chance also at the moment I am studying at the Elite Language Center by American lady also called Khadija I don't know if she was the same lady that you spoke about or not but I am sure that you're so lucky, I mean that God guided you to the right way, I wish the best for all of khadija ^^


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