Muhammad is now second only to Jack as the most popular name for baby boys in Britain and is likely to rise to No 1 by next year, a study by The Times of London has found.
The name, if all 14 different spellings are included, was shared by 5,991 newborn boys last year, beating Thomas into third place, followed by Joshua and Oliver.
Scholars said that the name’s popularity was driven partly by the growing number of young Muslims having families, coupled with the desire to name their child in honor of the Prophet Muhammad.
Muhammad, which means “one who is praiseworthy”, is often given to boys as an honorary prefix and is followed by the name by which they are commonly known. It is regularly cited as the most common name in the world, though there is no concrete evidence.
Overall, Muslims account for 3 percent of the British population, about 1.5 million people. However, the Muslim birthrate is roughly three times higher than that of non-Muslims.
Statistics also show that Muslim households are larger than those headed by someone of another religion. In 2001, the average size of a Muslim household was 3.8 people while a third contained more than five people.
The leading name for girls born to Muslim parents in 2006 was Aisha, in 110th place. Its meaning is “wife of the Prophet,” or “life.”