For the first time ever, the name “Mohammed” (or one of its multiple variant spellings in the Roman alphabet) is one of the Top Ten baby names in the United States, as America’s ever-growing Muslim population tends to bestow that name on firstborn boys.
There are few complications to sort out here before getting into the meat of the issue. The biggest one is that, unlike more-common boys’ names such as Aaron or Jackson, there’s little to no ambiguity in how to spell them, at least in the Roman alphabet. However, the name “Mohammed” originates in Arabic; how to transliterate it into English largely depends on whom you ask. That means that there are alternate spellings, such as “Muhammad” among others.
That’s why, as far as the Social Security Administration is concerned, neither Mohammed nor Muhammad has cracked the Top Ten, or even the Top 100, in boys’ names; spelled “Muhammad,” it was Number 345 in 2018.
However, the parenting website BabyCenter took alternate spellings into account, and when they crunched the numbers, they found that the combination of syllables that reference the name of Islam‘s prophet was Number 10 in 2018, for the first time ever.
The reason for this is twofold. First, says Linda Murray, BabyCenter’s global editor in chief, is that it’s a tradition in Muslim families to give that name to boys.
“Muslim families often choose Muhammad for firstborn sons to honor the prophet and bring blessings to the child,” she says.
The second, and related reason, is that Islam is growing in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center.
By 2050, Islam is expected to be practiced by 8.1 million Americans, or 2.1 percent of the population, and nearly twice what it was in 2017.
Also occupying a spot in the Top Ten list of baby names is another name of Arabic/Muslim origin: Aaliyah, and/or its variant spellings, is now Number 10 on the list of Top Ten girls’ names. The word means “exalted” or “lofty” in Arabic, according to pregnancy and parenting website The Bump.
Otherwise, the Top Ten lists of boys’ and girls’ baby names remain much the same as it has been for the past few years, albeit with a little movement within the rankings.
10) Muhammad/Mohammed/other spellings
Expect that list to change next year: for boys, the name Miles is quickly climbing the charts. For girls, Isla, which originates in Scotland, is gaining traction.