The name Omar in the Western Hemisphere

Sponsored Links

The name Omar in the Western Hemisphere

Every now and then, I come across someone named "Omar" in the Western hemisphere. Having a brother called Omar, as well as my family claiming descent from another famous Omar, I am intrigued.

The name Omar عمر is a pre-Islamic male proper name. Several of the Prophet's companions were called Omar, the most prominent of which is the second successor to him, Omar Ibn Al Khattab.

In Latin America, the name is popular in the 20th century. For example, we have Omar Sivori from Argentina, Arthur Omar from Brazil, Omar Jose Daal from Venezuela, Omar Cabezas from Nicaragua, Omar Rodriguez Lopez from Puerto Rico, and Omar Romano from Mexico.

Although Moorish influence through Spain is a possibility, it is hard for me to accept that this is the case. No 16th or 17th Spaniard Or Portuguese would like to be associated with a Muslim/Arab name, not to mention that the Inquisition would not approve of this, let alone social norms.

As we move north to the USA, we find that a few African Americans also use the name Omar, such as Omar Gooding, Cuba Gooding Jr. brother, as well as Omar Epps. This is not that surprising knowing that African Americans do use Muslim and Arab names, whether they themselves are Muslim or not.

However, that extends to even white Americans, such as Omar Knedlik, the Kansas City inventor of the ICEE, later to become the 7-Eleven Slurpee.

The most famous white American who went by the name of Omar, is Omar Nelson Bradley, General of the Army of the United States. The M2 and M3 vehicles are named Bradley after him.

Now, how would a late 19th century Christian white American gotten the name Omar?

 Puzzling, isn't it?

May be it is a different

May be it is a different name than the Arabic Omar (3omar)

Why not Arabic?

I don't find it hard to believe that the name Omar used in the West and especially in the Latin America is of Arabic origin. After all, someone made it clear that during and after the Spanish Inquisition, many locals with Arabic background fled Spain to the New World (not necessary at the time of Colombus). One thing strikes me looking at South Americans is the similarity they possess with Arabs in general. Carrying on with an arabic name like Omar could be plausable. After all, Arabic numbers are widely used nowadays in the Western World so a name like Omar could also be still used.

Unlikely

The Spanish Inquisition was very active in the New World as well. For someone to call himself a Muslim name then would have been foolish.

See here about the Breviario Sunni for the discovery of Muslim books in Mexico, most probably from the library of the Inquisitors.
--
Khalid Baheyeldin

Name Omar

I think that the answer is simpler. It is the influence of the Lebanese and Syrian migrants in the 19th century in America. Omar Bradley had Lebanese origins.

Use of Omar as a given name in the United States

First, I really doubt the previous poster's claim that Omar Bradley was of Lebanese descent. His father was named John Smith Bradley and his mother was born Sarah Elizabeth Hubbard. Those are hardly names likely to have Lebanese ancestry, and I'm sure there were very few immigrants from Lebanon in rural Missouri in the 19th century.

Omar became a regularly used given name in the United States during the 19th century because of the fame of the poet Omar Khayyam. His Rubaiyat has been widely translated and admired in Western countries for at least two centuries. During the 19th century, the names of many poets and authors were taken up by American parents for their sons. The ancient Greek poet Homer and the ancient Roman poet Virgil saw their names turned into popular given names in the United States during the 19th century, when they had never been common in English speaking countries before. The surnames of American and British poets or authors such as Lowell, Melville, Byron, and Milton also became common as given names in the United States during the same era. So Omar is simply one the many examples of an author's name becoming a regularly used given name in North America. Today authors are rarely honored in that way, but back in the 19th century we didn't have movie stars and television characters to inspire parents.

Cleveland Kent Evans
President, American Name Society, 2005-2006

Thank you

This is a very good analysis.

Thanks for sharing it.
--
Khalid Baheyeldin

Muslims and Christians lived

Muslims and Christians lived side by side in Andalucía /Al Andaluz for nearly 800 years. The same year that the Christians conquered the last califate of Granada was the same year Columbus sailed to the Americas. It is not hard to believe that some of those men who went with him were muslims who were not especially devout who said ok, sure, I'll say I convert, etc. and then the came to the New World, marry a native woman, and called the child Omar or Ismael, passing the name on. Otherwise, it could be Christians simply liked the name of their neighbors, so they used it.

But anyways, in parts of latin america -at least in Puerto Rico--Omar Medina or Ismael Falu would be a normal name for a native christian.

In some name books, Omar is

In some name books, Omar is credited as being of Hebrew, Arab, and German descent.

Omar supposedly deriving from a name meaning "FIRST BORN."

There are latin americans with German derived names in latin america. Omar Nelson Bradly could have been part German and someone dug up the obscure German name.

The Visigoth invaded Spain

I wrote that some "name" books credit the name Omar to Arabic, Hebrew, and German.

I then learned that Visigoths had invaded Spain long before the muslims did. These Germanic people probably brought the name Omar or a name sounding similar to it with them. And the when the muslims invaded the name Omar probably became popular in muslim controlled parts of Spain because it was common between Christians and Muslims. Both Muslim and Christian shared a name that sounded identical. And this coincedence is probably why Omar is a popular name in Spanish speaking countries. There were probably lots of Christians in Spain named Omar because of the Germans and the fact that many had to fit in.

So there you have it.

Where is the evidence?

Well, where is the evidence that the Germanic people used "Omar" or a variant of it?

I have not seen any non-Muslim Spaniard named Omar before the conquest of 711 C.E., nor after it down to the 19th century. Moreover, the name just does not exist in Europe or the New World until the 19th century.

The theory that it is influenced by Omar Khayyam's poetry is the most plausible one.
--
Khalid Baheyeldin