CAIRO – A new list for the top 100 baby names for boys in the UK has shown the name of Islam’s Prophet (peace be upon him) at the top in both London and the West Midlands.
“It’s religious – it comes down to a praise of Mohamed that can be followed by other names that combine to construct a praise of the Prophet,” Ibrahim Othman, an Arabic teacher at the Arab British Centre, told The Independent on Friday.
According to the list of most popular baby names in England and Wales in 2015, Oliver and Amelia remained the most popular baby names in 2015 in all regions of England except London and the West Midlands where Muhammad was the top name.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the results were “based on the exact spelling of the name given on the birth certificate”.
In England’s overall list, Muhammad appears at number 12, followed by Mohammed at 29, Mohammad in 68th place and Muhammed coming in at 121.
When the spellings are combined, it was used 7,570 times – outstripping the 6,941 babies named Oliver on their birth certificates.
“To make a fair comparison either all names should be treated separately or all names on the list should be combined with names that have a similar spelling,” ONS spokesperson said.
“If the latter approach was taken it would make the lists look very different. But it would also require subjective decision-making about whether certain names are distinctive or not – for example it would raise issues such as whether or not we should combine Sara with Sarah and Anna with Ana – some people pronounce these names the same way, but other people do not.”
Othman, the Arabic teacher, said the difference would be comparable to the British spellings of Jon and John, but not Oliver and Ollie, as the second name is shortened.
“They [Mohamed spellings] are the same name but it’s up to people how they want to spell it,” he told The Independent.
“There’s no difference, it’s just because some people would say an ‘o’ or a ‘u’ more accurately represents the Arabic.”
The name means of the Muslim Prophet means “praised” or “praiser of God” and is thought to be one of the most popular names worldwide, leading some men to shorten it or use their middle names.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.7 million, mainly from Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin, according to 2011 statistics.
Since 1970s, the name of Muhammad, also written as Mohammad, has become the most popular baby name in the UK, jumping 27 places up to knock royal names from the top.
The name of Muhammed has grown in popularity in recent years.
In 2013, the name Muhammad became the most popular name for newborn babies in England and Wales.
In 2009, the name of the Prophet became the most popular name for newborn babies in England and Wales.
Mohamed came third as the most popular name in Britain in 2008.