Abubakr Muhammad

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, jointly with
Quantum Information Processing Group, and
Center for Intelligent Machines

School of Computer Science, McGill University, Montreal, Canada


Abubakr Muhammad or Muhammad Abubakr or Muhammad Abu Bakar?

It may be a bit puzzling to those who have known me for long as to why have I changed the order of my name from Muhammad Abubakr to Abubakr Muhammad? The simple anwer is that I did not. While the actual person responsible for this name-change is some unidentifiable immigration clerk in the United States, it actually happened due to the incompatabiilty of western naming conventions (regarding first/given and last/family names) with those followed by some other cultures. This reordering got stuck in all the official documents issued during my stay in the United States and still lingers with me during my stay outside of Pakistan.

However, there was one choice that I made, and quite happily: I have used this shuffled name in most of my academic research and publications. Here is my reason. When I looked carefully, it matched (quite accidentally) with the names of many who have spent their lives in the pursuit of knowledge and made outstanding accomplishments. Here are the complete names of the most famous ones and I am sure that there are quite a few others.


Abu-Bakr Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Abi al­Awwam ibn Yazid ibn Dinar al­Riyahi al­Tamimi (The hadith narrator)

Abu-Bakr Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Wasti (The sufi)

Abu-Bakr Muhammad ibn Ibrahim (or Ishaq) Bukhari Kalabazi (The sufi)

Abu-Bakr Muhammad ibn Abdullah al-Ishbili (Ibn Arabi, the Maliki faqih)

Abu-Bakr Muhammad ibn Abdullah as-Sayrafi (The Shafii faqih)

Abu-Bakr Muhammad ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Muhammad ibn Tufail al-Andalusi (Ibn Tufail or Abubacer, the philosopher)

Abu-Bakr Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn al-Sayigh (Ibn Bajjah or Avempace, the philospher-scientist)

Abu-Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariya Razi (Rhazes, the scientist)

Abu-Bakr Muhammad ibn Yahya as-Suli (The chess master)

And most of you know Abu-Bakr Muhammad ibn Nawaz ibn Ashiq al-Lahuri.


Quite recently, another immigration clerk (this time a Pakistani) changed the spellings on my passport to Muhammad Abu Bakar. The reprecussions of yet another name change are yet to be understood fully, but I am already being called as Professor Bakar by my students at McGill. Unfortunately, Bakar does not have a great meaning (it means 'camel' in Arabic). Perhaps, this is divine justice for forcing my undeserved entry into the list of the greats.