He was astonished when he discovered I was a Muslim. He was a member of the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong, an Englishman whose name I’ve forgotten. I was contributing to a discussion at the club on Islam and the modern world. He asked my paternal family name, and when I replied, ‘Abdul Malik,’ he opened his mouth to exclaim, ‘Aaah!’
My name often causes misunderstanding among people who think that Muslims must have Arabic names. Some forget that Islam spread beyond the peninsula where the religion was founded and that most Muslims are not Arabs. Nevertheless, I didn’t protest when my younger sister named her first son Muhammad Faturrahman, or when my younger brother named his youngest son Muhammad Habiburrasul.