Mohammed is most popular name for baby boys in London
Mohammed is now the most common name for baby boys born in London and three other English regions, official Government figures have shown.
By Rebecca Lefort and Ben Leapman
Published: 5:07PM BST 15 Sep 2009
The Islamic name overtook traditional choices like Jack, Thomas and Daniel to become the number one name in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the North West, as well as in the capital, in 2008.
The figures emerged in a detailed regional breakdown of figures published last week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
It is the first time that the Muslim name has been shown to the top choice for parents in any part of the UK. In previous years no regional figures were disclosed, only nationwide totals.
When various spellings of the Islamic prophet are added together – including Muhammad, Mohammad, Mohamed and Muhammed – the name is now more than twice as popular in London as the capital's second-ranked boys name, Daniel. There were 1,828 baby boys given the name Mohammed, including varients, in 2008, compared with only 844 who were called Daniel.
London is not the first European capital to see Mohammed become the number one name for baby boys. In Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Oslo the name has already gained the top slot.
The way in which the true figures emerged, days after the official publication, will fuel claims that Government statisticians tried to play down the increasing popularity of the Muslim name. The official announcement by the ONS, which does not take varient spellings into account, states that Mohammed was only the third most popular name in London.
In the West Midlands, 1,399 baby boys were given the name Mohammed last year, including varient spellings, almost twice as many as the next most popular name, Jack, with 768.
In the North West 1,337 boys were named Mohammed, including varients, beating Jack into second place with 1,154. And in Yorkshire and the Humber there were 1,255 babies registered with the name Mohammed, including varients, with Jack again second with 854.
Throughout England and Wales Mohammed, including its varient spellings, was the third most popular name, with 6,591 newborns given the religious name, behind Jack with 8,007 and Oliver with 7,413.
Nationwide the most popular name for baby girls was Olivia, with 5,317 given the name, followed by 4,924 named Ruby and 4,874 called Emily.
In recent years the ONS has refused to divulge regional lists of popular baby names. It is likely that Mohammed has been the most popular choice in the capital for a number of years already, but it has never been demonstrated conclusively until now.
Experts believe that internationally around 15 million people are called Mohammed, making it the most popular male name in the world.
Murtaza Shibli of the Muslim Council of Britain said he was not surprised to find Mohammed had become the most popular boys name in parts of the country.
“People choose it because of their love of the prophet Mohammed, and they believe the name will bring happiness and abundance,” he said.
“Also because of its meaning – the praised one. Also there is a belief that if you do name your children Mohammed they will follow the good example of the prophet.
“There are so many spellings because it is an Arabic name and there are different ways of translating it into English.”
Other ONS data from its July to September 2008 Labour Force Survey shows the Muslim population is growing 10 times faster than the rest of the population. Last year more than 2.4 million people identified themselves as Muslims, according to the survey's findings, up more than 500,000 in four years. In the same period the number of Christians fell by more than 2 million, to 42.6 million.
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