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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 June 2007, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
Muhammad second most popular name
A muslim man praying with two boys
Muhammad is an increasingly popular name for young UK muslims
Muhammad is the second most popular name for baby boys in Britain, new research has found.

According to The Times, the name is now second only to Jack and is likely to rise to number one by next year.

The newspaper says the name - if all 14 different spellings are included - was shared by 5,991 new-born boys during last year.

The name's increased popularity is thought to be partly because more young Muslims are having families.

The official register of names puts Mohammed at number 23, but an analysis of the top 3,000 names puts Muhammad in second place once the different spellings are taken into account.

Third on the list was Thomas, followed by Joshua and Oliver.

Mohammed - 2,833 occurrences
Muhammad - 1,422
Mohammad - 920
Muhammed - 358
Mohamed - 354
Mohamad - 29
Mahammed - 18
Mohammod - 13
Mahamed - 12
Muhammod - 9
Muhamad - 7
Mohmmed - 6
Mohamud - 5
Mohammud - 5

Professor of Ethnic Relations at Warwick University, Muhammad Anwar, said the increased choice of the Muslim name was down to a link with Islam.

He said: "Muslim parents like to have something that shows a link with their religion or with the Prophet [Muhammad]."

The name Muhammad first entered the top 30 list in 2000 and saw a rise of 12% in popularity last year, according to The Times.

It means "one who is praiseworthy".

There are several different versions of the spelling in the UK which can depend on a family's origins and a variance in pronunciation.

Mufti Abdul Barkatullah, formerly an imam at the Finchley mosque in London, said: "In Arab countries, the name Muhammad is said when you don't know the name of someone.

"When you get to the UK, it is essentially about translating the sound of the Arabic into English.

"A non-Arab Muslim would have the name ending in -ed while an Arab Muslim would adopt the -ad ending."

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