Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor’s two-month old baby, Taimur braved the world’s hatred when he arrived in this world earlier this year. In a country where religious symbolism, hyper nationalism, communal hatred have become quite acceptable, unnamed faces on Twitter even wished death for the baby. Because his name reminded them of a 14th-century Turkish conqueror who invaded Delhi in 1398. In the aftermath of the controversy, both Kareena and Saif have been extremely dignified in their responses to this unwarranted attack on their child. In fact, Saif went on to say that mean things were always said about people, he blamed the anonymity of social media for proliferating hatred. But, all in all, he said that he continued to have faith in India’s liberal values. “India is still liberal and people are still open minded,” he said.
On other occasions, both Kareena and Saif have defended their choice and said that the name ‘Taimur’ has a nice sound to it and it has nothing to do with the infamous ruler. In several interviews Saif has also argued that there are so many names which have violent histories like that of Adolf (Hitler), Alexander (The Great), or Emperor Ashoka.
However, recently, during the promotion of his film — Rangoon, Saif Ali Khan gave a very political reason for naming his son ‘Taimur’. He said, he wanted to contribute his bit to the fight against Islamophobia, which is at its worst currently. Here’s what he said in his interview:
I don’t want my son’s name to sound very cool, like a nice sounding trendy syllable. I wanted an international name but I am also aware that there’s certain amount of Islamophobia in the world today. And if as Muslim, although I don’t think I am very religious, but if somehow we as Muslims will not own it then who will? In the sense that I can’t name my son Alexander and realistically can’t name him Ram, so why not give him a nice Muslim name and hopefully bring him up with secular values where we love and respect each other.
He did face some backlash for saying that he can’t name his son Ram. Many on social media pointed out that his wife is Hindu. However, in a world full of cynics, it’s impossible to please everyone or make sense to everyone. The point the haters missed is that Saif very specifically highlighted that he will bring up his kids with secular values. So that his Taimur could be the carrier of love and respect for everyone, a noble representative of the Muslim community. In a divided world, it is important not only to protect our identities from being attacked and diluted but also to create good representatives from every community who stand for unity. And Saif just stood up for that. Haters can go on hating. But the logic that went behind naming Taimur is a sound one, highly political and brave too.