Muhammad: the truth about Britain’s most misunderstood name

Guardian: The Muhammad myth is a popular one. For at least four years there have been numerous news reports declaring that Mohammed is the most popular boy’s name in the country. Or maybe Mohamed. Or should that be Muhammad? Look more closely, though, and there is more to the rise of Muhammad than meets the eye. From Mo Farah to Mohamed Al Fayed and Muhammad Ali, there is no shortage of high-profile people named after the prophet of Islam. In Muslim families, the name is bestowed with abandon by new parents. Even Muslim men who don’t use the name sometimes have it tucked away.

My grandfather and uncle are both Muhammads, which is relatively restrained. One of my friends has a father, father-in-law and brother all called Mohammed – and she has now given it to her son as a middle name. In other cultures, it might hint at an unforgiveable lack of creativity, but my friend says she would not consider allowing it to skip a generation.

“It’s partly Bengali tradition,” she says, adding that it was also a conscious decision to ensure that her son engaged with his religious heritage. “I wanted a name that would make my son think about who our prophet was, and what it really means to be a Muslim, rather than any negative media representation of Islam, or the twisted actions of those who claim to do things in the prophet’s name.”

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