It was announced on Tuesday that pop legend Janet Jackson and her husband, Qatari billionaire Wissam Al Mana welcomed their first child, a son, on Tuesday. Now fans are wondering why Janet Jackson named her son Eissa, a name you don't hear very often outside of the Middle East. According to People, Eissa is pronounced as "EYE-sa," and it can alternatively be spelled as Isa, Issa or Essa. Though the Arabic name is common in the Middle East and gaining traction in Europe, just six Eissas were born in the U.S. last year.
Just like Jesus, Yeshua, and Joshua, Eissa means "the lord is salvation." It was rumored that Jackson planned to pay tribute to her late brother Michael with her baby's name, and People speculated that there may be a "subtle link" between Eissa and Michael's middle name, Joseph, which means "Jehovah increases." They both reference the Abrahamic god, but that's not exactly uncommon. According to Hollywood Life, some reports claimed that Jackson was planning on honoring not only Michael, but also Brandon, another brother who died shortly after he was born. Of course, that could still be true, as no middle name for Eissa has yet been publicly shared.
The fact that Eissa is a traditional Muslim name has also fueled the recent rumors that Jackson may have converted to Islam. Jackson's parents raised her as a Jehovah's Witness, but in 2008, she told Parade magazine, "I believe in God. I feel that spiritual connection. But, most of the time, I didn’t pay attention in the Kingdom Hall." When the star finally confirmed her pregnancy to People in October, she told the magazine, "We thank God for our blessing." Al Mana is known to be Muslim, and sources have described him to The Sun as "very religious."
Speculation of a conversion first began when Jackson started using traditional Muslim phrases such as "Alhamdulillah" ("praise by to Allah") and "Inshallah" ("if it is God's will"). Then, in October 2016, the tabloids spotted Jackson and Al Mana shopping for children's clothing in London and reported that she wore "full Islamic dress" that covered her from head to toe. It was quickly revealed that she was actually just wearing a baggy men's poncho made by Adidas. The poncho was paired with loose sweatpants and a cloth headband, and is actually very similar to a previous maternity look Jackson was spotted in. So, Is Jackson Muslim? Maybe, maybe not. Who cares? All we need to know is that Eissa is a lovely name, and Janet's doing fine. Now, let's see those baby pics!