I would learn the Mohammeds by their first and second names: Mohammed Jamal, Mohammed Ahmed, Mohammed Abraham, Mohammed Mohammed. Yes, sometimes they were named Mohammed twice.
I was asking my class their fathers’ names one day because we had Open House that evening and it’s the fathers that come to that. (Very few mothers—I had two or three in two years—attend school events). After about the 6th or 7th student, one Mohammed enlightened me, “Teacher, just look at our second names.”
In doing so, I realized that the fathers’ names that had been given me all matched up to the students’ second names. And that is when I learned how they are named: second name is father’s, third name is grandfather’s, fourth name is great-grandfather’s, etc, etc, etc, and last name is their “tribe”. I suppose it’s not all that unique since my middle name, Mayme, is my grandma’s. But in their culture, every family follows this custom.
Still the first time I did roll it was daunting to read the names on the list. Student #1: Abraham Mohammed Faisal Jamal Abdulrahman. Student #2: Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Jamal Abdulrahman Sulaiman. Needless to say, there weren’t any David Smiths or Jeff Jones.
My two classes full of Mohammeds!