A number of articles describe how Muhammad is the most popular name in the UK for baby boys, topping William and other names.

A few links for reference:

  • 2016 Independent article

    Muhammad has replaced William in the top ten most popular boys' names in England and Wales.

  • 2009 Telegraph

    The Islamic name [(Mohammed)] 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.

Both articles also state that various spellings of the name are included.

Is this true?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Sklivvz
    Jun 29, 2018 at 20:30

2 Answers 2


There are two reasonable answers to this already, but it's worth noting that there was an article discussing this exact question in the Guardian in 2014: https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/dec/01/muhammad-not-most-popular-boys-name-in-britain

The key finding was:

The proportion of the population that is Muslim is 4.8%, while the most popular boys name in England and Wales (Oliver) was given to just 1% of babies that year. Muhammad’s 15th place is a demonstration of the lower variance of names within the Muslim community compared to others.

The alternative take on this – that Muhammad tops the chart – was one given by the Daily Mail in their reporting of the official statistics earlier this year. Their reasoning was as follows:

When all the variations are added together, including Muhammad, Mohammed and Mohammad, the name comes out top with 7,445 counts.

If you do that though, it’s only fair to add together the variations of other names. For example, Oliver and Ollie (7,749) or Harry and Henry (9,136). We can only wonder why the Daily Mail didn’t.

This is a couple of years out of date now, though.

  • 8
    Good find. The fact that many Muslim boys are given the name mohammed (however spelt) is a big factor and I hadn't realised it had been discussed previously. Also the language problem isn't clear cut: the simple Mohammed variants are clearly different transliterations on a single arabic name, whereas the variant English names are not. Ollie is not the same name as Oliver and Jack is not the same name as John, though they may, historically, be derived from the same root. The comparisons are not simple.
    – matt_black
    Jun 26, 2018 at 8:11

The overwhelming "elephant in the room" is that:

In many/most mulsim countries, the "first name" Mohammed is not a "first name". It is a type of honorific.

i.e. quite simply males get "Mohammed" as a sort of first name, and then their actual name follows.

(Rather as in "Mac-Surname", we notice that "every!" compound surname has "Mac" as the first surname.)

It's totally remarkable that this hasn't been mentioned.

It's also remarkable that the many media articles which rabbit on about the various spellings of Mohammed (which is an irrelevant, obvious, uninteresting issue) don't mention this, the main issue.

If you have never before heard of this everyday, ubiquitous, naming tradition in Muslim lands, some articles ...

"He explains that the name is symbolically included as a first name, but it is not used in the way a Christian name would be – in Pakistan, for instance, a second name is often used as a “given” name."

Muhammad: the truth about Britain’s most misunderstood name

"In some Muslim countries, almost all males take a religious name, either Mohammed or one of the prophet's other names, Ahmed, Mahmoud, or Mustafa. Out of reverence for the prophet and also out of practicality, men and boys named Mohammed often go by another first name instead. In Egypt, the ubiquity of these compound names caused a major administrative problem in the mid-20th century,..."

When Can Muslims Use the Name Mohammed?

"This is not a title like 'Mr.' nor is a first name as western people understand..."

"Md. stands for Muhammad or Mohammed. Thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims (male) use Md., the shorter form of Muhammad, before their names. This is not a title like 'Mr.' nor is a first name as western people understand. Although Md. is part of one's name, people never call anyone by this name. For example..."

English term or phrase: Md. NAME SURNAME (from the leading professional translation technical talk site)

Note that the "political thrust" of the observation seems to be simply "there are very many Muslim people in the UK now". That is probably correct in whatever relative terms are meant. But the observation

  • "everyone is named Mohammed!"

would be as naive as pointing out that

  • "Everyone in Scotland and Eireland has the surname Mac-!"

or that

  • "All these professors have an honorific PhD!"

or that

  • "In Japan they accidentally have their first and last names reversed!"

or that

  • "In Iceland everyone's surname is dottir!"

It's a (trivial) misunderstanding of the structure of naming concepts.

  • 1
    There was actually an answer that stated this, but it was unfortunately deleted earlier today because the answerer couldn't/wouldn't provide any sources other than "I am a Muslim". Upvoting this for making the same point and providing sources.
    – F1Krazy
    Jun 28, 2018 at 15:09
  • 1
    This is very useful information that does not answer the question. Just saying.
    – Carsten S
    Jul 1, 2018 at 9:55
  • 1
    Reading the actual question title. "Is Muhammad one of the most popular names for boys in England and Wales?" Answer: it is not a boy's name. Difficult to be clearer than that.
    – Fattie
    Jul 1, 2018 at 13:58
  • 1
    I completely understand what you mean @CarstenS that the "point" of this sentence from the newspaper "Muhammad has replaced William in the top ten most popular boys' names in England and Wales." is: "Muslim children are now easily more numerous than 'Williams' in the UK". Let us put it this way: the sentence should have been phrased like: "There are now more kids with the honorific 'Muhammed' than there are Williams." If (as it happened) Muslim folks used the honorific in the middle, it would be far more understandable to Westerners: we'd say ....
    – Fattie
    Jul 1, 2018 at 14:05
  • 2
    ... "OMG there are now more muslims kids with the Muhammed honorifc in the middle, than there are WIlliams". (The concept that other nations don't use the same name-structural-concepts as Westerners, seems generally too hard for Westerners to grasp :) ) Anyway - the point seems to have been discussed to death, cheers.
    – Fattie
    Jul 1, 2018 at 14:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .