How wonderfully multicultural are we. For the first time in Australia’s history, NSW babies are more likely to be ascribed different spellings of the name Muhammed, than traditional names such as Max, Michael and Matthew.
The political establishment often claims that the very ‘fabric’ of our nation is built on multiculturalism.
But is it really a sign of success, when the people and culture that built our nation, are being replaced with another?
Further, does it make our country more tolerant, if more babies than ever are named after an anti- semitic, genocidal rapist?
“Prophet edges out gospel choices for the first time”, the Australian, November 26, 2016:
Babies born in NSW last year were more likely to be called Muhammad than Michael, Max or Matthew, as the popular Islamic name enters the top 20 boys’ names for the first time.
Last year that singular spelling of the Islamic holy prophet was the 73rd most-common boys name in NSW with 126 births but, after all the various spellings are grouped together, Muhammad — or Mohammed or Mohamed or Mohammad — rises to 18th position, ahead of Benjamin, Charlie, Mason and Max.
In Victoria, the name is ranked 80th, with 80 births last year.
The name continues to climb up the rankings — to about 150 in the US, where Noah is No 1 — around the world as demographic trends take hold. In London and the West Midlands regions of Britain, it is the most common name for boys, ranking 12th and 29th for two different spellings across England and Wales.
Samar Moussa and Bassel Merhi from Auburn in Sydney’s west have their hands full raising four daughters and a two-year-old son named Mohamad. They’re not surprised that his name, in its many permutations, has nudged its way into the top 20. “I know a lot of useless (facts),” Ms Moussa said. “Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world and Mohamad is becoming more popular.”
It is a common, and encouraged, practice among Muslims to name boys Mohamad.
“It is the name of the prophet, peace be upon him,” Mr Merhi said. He counted the number of Mohamads in his family and his wife’s combined at 10. “Yes, 10. Maybe more. You know, we (Arabs) have big families.”
Shakespeare’s ruminations on naming conventions might have come about to help a pair of lovesick teenagers but the rose-by-any-other-name quote speaks to the power of the family name in a much older Europe.
The French nobility thought names so important they gave their children a lot of them, including names for the land they owned, in case others were wondering.
The English worried rather a bit about who your family was — a juicy quote in the new Netflix royal series The Crown has one nobleman talking down about another: “I’d address him by his name, if he had one.”
The Chinese and Japanese put the family name first.
Charlotte is the most popular girl’s name in NSW while Amelia reigns supreme in England and Wales. Americans prefer Emma.
Some studies show the importance of the first name, and first impressions. Economists found more male-sounding names for female lawyers in South Carolina meant they were slightly more likely to become judges than their colleagues named Kate or Emily.
Ms Moussa said she wasn’t worried that her son’s name might make him susceptible to anti-Muslim abuse or viewed with suspicion as he grows older.
“No, God has blessed him,” she said. “I’ve named my children very Islamic names so everyone knows they are Muslim.’’
Their daughters are Fatimah, 12; Mariam, 10; Sakinah, 7; and Sofiah, 5.
“On our honeymoon in Queensland, I called out to my husband Bassel, ‘Hurry up Bazza!’ to go on the rides, and a woman just opened her mouth … in shock,” Ms Moussa said. “The lady said: ‘Oh, I didn’t know your kind speak English. I was like: ‘What’s my kind? I’m Australian!’ ”