On July 8th 2009 Howard University Hospital hosted its first African-Islamic naming ceremony for Quadruplets born on July 1st 2009. The three boys and one girl were born healthy and in the tradition in Islam after seven days they were welcomed to the community and given their names. The community gathered in their finest African dress for the celebration. Imam Al-hajji Yusuf Jumah of the Nigerian Muslim Council officiated the naming ceremony along with the Muslim Chaplain of Howard University Hospital, Imam Johari Abdul-Malik.
The naming ceremony or “aqiqah” in Arabic is a tradition in Africa and in Islam. Al-Hajji Yusuf welcomed the community and then turned to Imam Johari, the first Muslim Chaplain of Howard U, to give the international gathering of Nigerian Americans, friends and hospital staff an introduction to the tradition and meaning of the ceremony. The Imam shared that the Prophet (pbuh) said that the rights of the child of are three, that the parents must choose a good parent for their child a good parent, give them a good education and select for them a good name. Al-hajji Yusuf spoke in Yoruba language reiterating key points and offered blessing in the traditional way.
The unmistakable African cadence of the call and response of Al-Hajji’s supplication can be found in many African-American churches today. Rev. Lanier, head of pastor services at the Hospital coordinated with the family and staff for a festive occasion held in the Founder’s Room and museum on the ground floor of the hospital.
“This is the first official African-Islamic naming ceremony in the history of the hospital”, said Dr. Alice Gullatee. She felt it was significant in that, “this ceremony reconnects the historic African-American institution with traditions only now being regained from our African past”. as part of the ceremony the congregation as well as the CEO of the Howard University give charity – sadaqa on behalf of the children.
Imam Johari shared that a name precedes a person as they travel through. Al-Hajji Yusuf gave an overview of the meaning of each of the names followed by singing prayers in Arabic and Yoruba. The parents (Saleh Adeleke Olorun-Tori and Bilqis Folashade Adeleke [Queen of Sheba, The Muslim wife of the prophet Ibrahim], have chosen noble names from their Islamic and Yoruba traditions. Mubarak Abdullah – Blessed Servant of Allah, Amir Abdul-Azeem – leader and servant of The Magnificent, Khalifah Abdul-Azeez – Successor Servant of The Victorious and sister Amira-Saliha Adejoke – A female leader or princess, helper among women, now noble members of the Olorun-Tori family. Howard University Hospital-Sankofa – The tradition returns and welcomes our children and our tradition lives. The event concluded with African refreshments. For more information about the birth of the quadruplets visit the website of HUH.