The name is great, all ways

A recent report released in London has 100 names considered popular in England and Wales during 2010.

The most popular boys’ names, in descending order, were Oliver, Jack, Harry, Alfie, Charlie, Thomas, William, Joshua, George and James.

Nine of those names were among the top ten in 2010. George rose from 11th to 9th place, while Daniel dropped from 10th to 11th.

Names clearly go in and out of fashion. William and Harry are there because they are names of Prince Charles’ sons.

One name in the extended list that does not go out of fashion is Muhammad.

In light of this, it is surprising that Muhammad is only 31 on the list, especially since the BBC reported on June 6, 2007 that “Muhammad is the second most popular name for baby boys in Britain (Jack was the first).”

So, how could it have fallen so far so fast?

The answer is in the way the names are scored. Of the 5991 newborn boys in 2006 named after the Prophet, the name was spelt in 14 different English ways. They are Mohammed (2833), Muhammad (1422), Mohammad (920), Muhammed (358), Mohamed (354), Mohamad (29), Mahammed (18), Mohammod (13), Mahamed (12), Muhammod (9), Muhamad (7), Mohmmed (6), Mohamud (5) and Mohammud (5).

However, compilers of the 2010 figures have treated these as separate names.

This seems unreasonable, as all these children were named after the same person, Rasulullah.

The differences are just variant ways of representing his Arabic name in English spelling. Counting them separately would be like saying that Jonathon, Johnathon and Jonathan or Catherine, Katherine, Katharine and Kathryn are different.

Therefore we see that Mohammed is at Number 17, Muhammad at 31 and Mohammad at 67. No other variant spellings are in the top 100.

This total number (6576) would in fact put the name 4th on the list, after Harry with 6862 and well ahead of Alfie with 5478.

Given that there were 11 other alternative spellings in 2006, adding them might well put it higher.

Ibn Asakir and Hussain Ibn Ahmad quoted the Prophet as saying, “If a son is born to you and, out of love and respect for me and to obtain the blessings of my name, you keep the child’s name ‘Muhammad,’ then the father and child will both enter Jannah.”

Spelling

Rank in 2009

Rank in 2010

Number

Mohammed

16

17

3,105

Muhammad

36

31

2,451

Mohammad

62

67

1,020

Total

6576

Source: Rocket Science is a monthly newsletter produced by the Mount Albert Islamic Trust.

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