Rafaan and I like unique names. We also feel strongly that a name should have a positive meaning.
Asher is a Hebrew name meaning “happy, blessed, fortunate” and since we met and got married in Haifa, Israel we felt that this was only fitting. Ash, we also felt was a nod to his Persian heritage and Asher also has Arabic roots, meaning “wise or knowledgeable.” Furthermore Ash is a type of tree, and when I was pregnant with Asher I said a prayer for marriage every day that has a line in it that states: “…that there may branch out from this great tree boughs that will grow green and flourishing through the gifts that rain down from Thy clouds of grace.” So Asher just felt right to us. It was the first name we thought about and really was the only name we ever seriously considered. At the time it wasn’t common, but apparently, everyone else had the same idea and it’s now a fairly trendy name, much to my displeasure.
Nathan is my paternal grandfather’s name. I was very close with him and love him dearly. He passed away nearly 9 years ago, but I still feel strongly that he played a part in bringing Raf and I together. He was a wonderful human being and made everyone he encountered feel special. Nathan, also happens to be a Hebrew name, meaning “God’s gracious gift.”
Bennett is latin from the root Benedictus, meaning “blessed.” We first came across this name years ago, when our friend Kent mentioned that he liked the idea of naming a girl Bennet, after Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (our Bennett is not in fact named after that Bennet). When I was pregnant with Bennett, but before we knew we were having a girl, Kent was over one night, which I think reminded Rafaan of the name, and he stated that he liked the name Bennett for a girl. I agreed and we liked it even better once we found out what it meant. When we found out we were having a girl, we never even considered anything else (although it did take a while to decide on how we were going to spell it). Bennett just felt right. We both like non-traditional names for girls and names that may more commonly be used for boys. Bennett may be slightly trendy as a boy name, but we’re confident that it’s fairly unique as a girl’s name. In addition studies have shown that women with sexually ambiguous names tend to be more successful than their effeminately named female counterparts in typically male dominated fields. This and this are interesting reads. This certainly didn’t influence our name choice, but instead just affirmed it. However, I certainly hope that by the time Bennett is old enough to get a job her name won’t matter.
Rose is latin meaning “rose, a flower” and since Bennett is a somewhat long and masculine name, I wanted a short and feminine middle name. I really liked how Bennett Rose sounded, but I didn’t want her middle name to be arbitrary, rather I wanted it to hold significance or be after someone we loved. We tested out a few other middle names, but none felt right and then I was saying a prayer for children and realized that the rose in fact is mentioned in many Bahá’í prayers and Writings. Furthermore, the Bahá’í Shrines are scented with rose water and the gardens at the Bahá’í World Centre (where Raf and I first met) are filled with roses. So, we liked that the name Rose was a nod to where we met as well as the fact that it holds special significance in Bahá’í texts. We also liked how it’s a fairly old, traditional name and felt that it brought balance to the more recent, trendy name of Bennett.
Reese is English/Welsh and means, “ardent/ardor, passionate, enthusiastic, fiery.” We first considered this name when we were expecting Asher. We had a list of backup names that we would use if he was born and we felt that Asher just didn’t suit him. Reese was one of those names. We obviously didn’t end up using it. But of all the names on that list, it was the only one that I continued to like over the years. When I got pregnant with Reese I decided that I really wanted to wait to find out the sex of the baby. With this in mind, Raf and I decided we would pick one gender neutral name that we could use for either a boy or a girl and then we would pick two middle names to go with it. In keeping true to form with our naming history Reese was the first name I suggested and it just felt right. We did toy with one or two other names, but we kept coming back to Reese. Raf was convinced that we were having another girl and really wanted to find out the sex to prove that he was right. He finally wore me down and we were overjoyed to find out we were having another girl!
Marie is the French and Czech form of Maria, which in turn is a form of Mary which is derived from the Hebrew Miryam and means “wished for child.” When I was in labour with Reese, Raf suggested we give her the middle name Marie. Up until that point, we had been going back and forth between Olive, Olivia and Jasmine as middle name options. But none of them felt quite right. We like Marie, because just like with Bennett Rose, we feel that it brings a nice balance to her name. We gave her the middle name of Marie as a mash-up of sorts between the names of several notable women. First, Virginia Maria (pronounced Mariah) Breaks, who was the Knight of Baha’u’llah for the Western Caroline Islands. When I was a little girl, she lived with us at the end of her life and I came to love her deeply. She was an amazing woman and really like a third grandmother to me. Next is my maternal grandmother, Mary Evelyn Hardy. With Asher named after my paternal grandfather, we felt that it would be nice to honor my mom’s side of the family. Grandma Mary is a remarkable woman. I’m named after her, with my own middle name being Mary and we felt that it was a nice way to pay tribute to my Mom by naming our daughter after her mother. Lastly, she is also named after Queen Marie of Romania, who was the first Royal to recognize Baha’u’llah. Reese is quite the lucky little girl to be named after such incredible women.
Anvari is Iranian and means “something that has been set alight.”