Sunday, January 21, 2007

In Case This Ever Shows Up On Trivial Pursuit

Since so many of the truther arguments seem to be based on the idea that anyone named Mohammed is a 9/11 hijacker, I found this little bit interesting:

There is only one strictly Muslim entry in the Top 100 commonly chosen names for baby boys in 2005 and it appears three times in the list: Mohammed (22nd), Muhammad (44th) and Mohammad (72nd).

The name given in honour of the Prophet Muhammad, the seventh-century founder of the Islamic faith, has become one of the most popular names for male babies in the United Kingdom. It first entered the Top 30 in 2000 and, according to data from the Office for National Statistics, it is now ranked 23rd.

“There are many different variations of spelling, but if a standard spelling existed it would probably have been top of the list,” says Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra, an imam from Leicester and member of the Muslim Council of Britain.

The popularity of the Mohammed variant of the name is a result of over-usage by the media, he says. “The most accurate spelling is Muhammad and comes from replacing the Arabic script with its closest Latin equivalent.”

Muhammad, which means “one who is praiseworthy”, is often given to boys as an honorary prefix by parents and followed by the name by which they are commonly known. It is also regularly cited as the most common name in the world, though there is no concrete evidence for this.


At 21 January, 2007 15:40, Blogger Triterope said...

This sort of thing is happening everywhere. Check out the prevalance of Hispanic names among babies born in the U.S. in 2005. In fact, "Jose" is the #1 name for baby boys in Texas, and is #30 in the U.S.

SSA info on baby names

At 21 January, 2007 18:54, Blogger The Artistic Macrophage said...

So I guess Atta might have been just some...Tom, Dick, or Mohammed.


At 22 January, 2007 11:48, Blogger Triterope said...

Pretty much. In fact, the surname "Atta" isn't even unique in the United States. It's on the Census Bureau's list of surnames that comprise the top 90% of those in the U.S. I estimate that about 300 people have it. Given the commonness of Mohammed as a male name, there are probably a couple dozen Mohammed Attas in this country alone.

Another thing worth noting about Middle Eastern names is that the name we hear from western media is a westernized version, consisting only of the given name and the surname. But most Middle Eastern names have many more components than that. Try Googling the full name of some of the 9/11 hijackers and see just how long they really are... and how many different versions of these "full names" have been reported in US media.

When Arab/Muslim peoples westernize their names, they have a boatload of personal names to choose from, many of which do not transliterate well into English (remember Khadafy?)

With all these factors, it is not at all surprising that attempts to identify Middle Easterners using westernized versions of names often go down incorrect paths.


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