For the first time since the inception of the popular baby name list, the name Muhammad has been included in the Top 10.
The popular baby boy name has been used as a way for Muslim families to honor Islam’s final prophet, the Prophet Muhammad. The name jumped from 14th place in 2018 to 10th place in 2019, according to data collected from U.S. parents by BabyCenter.
“Muhammad’s been rising on BabyCenter top baby name lists around the world, so we knew it would soon break into the U.S. top 10,” Linda Murray, BabyCenter’s global editor in chief, said in a press release.
In addition, another Arabic-origin name, Aaliyah, ranked in the 10th place as the most popular name for American baby girls on BabyCenter. While two-other faith-based named, Noah and Elijah took the top spots for American baby boys this year. The two religious figures are mentioned in all three Abrahamic religions.
The data is aggregated from nearly 600,000 parents who shared their babies’ names with BabyCenter in 2019. The site notes that in order to “capture true popularity,” they combine names that sound similar but might have different spellings (like Muhammad and Mohammed). The multiple spellings are what helps a name get placed into the top 10, Murray says.
The name Muhammad has increased in popularity, according to the Social Security Administration. The name was ranked No. 620 in 2000 ― but shot up to No. 345 in 2018. The name Muhammad translates to “the most praised one” with Muslims seeing the religious figure as the “ultimate example” of how to live a righteous life, according to Sylvia Chan-Malik, a professor at Rutgers University who studies the history of Islam in the United States.
She thinks the increasing popularity of the name is a good sign despite the increase of Islamophobia in the post-9/11 era and the current White House.
“In the face of all these attacks on Islam and Muslims, I think you see a new generation of young Muslims who are no longer accepting the way in which Islam has been vilified or demonized in politics and culture,” she said. “They’re saying, ‘I’m going to name my child Muhammad because this is meaningful to me, for my religious identity and my faith, and I’m no longer going to shy away from that.’”