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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Popular names non-story


    by Rumbold on 10th September, 2009 at 9:55 AM    

    The annual list of most popular boys’ and girls’ names has been released, and it seems that one name in particular has caused controversy by being left off the top ten list: Muhammad. This is because people spell it in a variety of different ways (Mohammad, Mahomet, etc.), the combined total of which would have placed Muhammad third. This should have sparked a minor debate amongst compilers and linguists about whether a name’s variants should be amalgamated in such a list (ONS practice is to keep the variants separate), but this being Muhammad, there was far more controversy.

    Noted list compiler and statistician Douglas Murray felt the need to comment, while Max Hastings thought it necessary to write a long piece on it, and why it represented the beginning of the end:

    “The Muslim population is now close to two million, over 3 per cent, and rising fast because Muslim families have more children than most of the rest of us, many of them named Mohammed or Muhammed…

    Britain, two generations hence, threatens to become a mere camp site for 77 million people of many races, for whom this represents a mere place to sleep, eat and make money. To avert this, we must address a series of related challenges.”

    Maybe it is right to have all the variants under a single heading. But that is not the reason for the fuss. This is another example of the non-story, in which something which shouldn’t make the news does because Muslims are involved. For those who doubt this, do you think there would be columnists in national newspapers writing about what the failure to amalgamate Ian/Iain in a list represents?



    Filed in: British Identity, Culture, Other racists




    • Kulvinder
      Most of the scaremongering about 'islam taking over' is pretty similar to the fears about the growth in the catholic population in the past.

      Whilst there are obviously problems with homophobia, misogynists, fanatics etc in the 'asian population'; the fear that the columnists and commentators try and conjure up is that people are incapable of change.
    • Abdul Abulbul Emir
      similar to the fears about the growth in the catholic population in the past.


      some 25% of 'English' people descended from Irish immigrants so Catholics grew pretty well.

      What flavour English people in 200 year I wonder ?

      Not white that's for sure.

      Peace be upon me.
    • Bartholomew
      Hastings:
      It seems fantastically na've to suppose that many of these newcomers - or even their children born here - will start reading Jane Austen or tuning in to The Archers.


      Unlike the English Defence League, who doubtless discuss Ambridge at length while cycling back from Evensong.

      Incidentally, I actually listen to a reasonable amount radio drama, since it's usually better than the stuff on TV, but I have never felt the need to tune in to a single episode of the Archers.
    • Dani
      Yeah, only really English (from Land of The Angles, Angles being a Germanic tribe that arrived in the middle ages) names for Great Britain (from the old French) or Albion (From Latin), please.

      Oh wait...
    • asquith
      "Britain, two generations hence, threatens to become a mere camp site for 77 million people of many races, for whom this represents a mere place to sleep, eat and make money."

      Isn't that exactly what "libertarians" want?
    • will start reading Jane Austen or tuning in to The Archers.

      Obviously the answer is to force everyone in the land to watch the Archers and read Jane Austen. Otherwise you're a heretic!
    • Phatman
      But the brownies have started inter-marrying with the clergy on the Archers...aaargh! (sorry, ethnic minority closet Archers listener)
    • Naadir Jeewa
      Reminds me of the Lee/Herring "Ian News" sketch with the Iain-phobia and Iain-fundamentalists.
    • Dani
      Obviously the answer is to force everyone in the land to watch the Archers and read Jane Austen. Otherwise you’re a heretic!

      For one horrified moment, I thought you said to force everyone to read Archer. If that were the case, I'd take up that Icelandic citizenship after all...
    • Chris Baldwin
      Well, they make you read Jane Austen at school, so it seems probable that a large proportion of every ethnic group will come into contact with her work at some point in their lives.
    • The Common Humanist
      Joking aside, how many people here come from white working class backgrounds? And are from a small town/ semi rural location? Possibly that has had a mining/primary industrial heritage.

      Now I have that background and my parents are classic 60s liberals. Now, they haven't a racsist bone in their bodies but the idea of a greater proportion of the UK population being muslim absolutely terrifies them. Given their very progressive, liberal left backgrounds they just cannot see how having more muslims in the country is progress and they see it as a threat to go back to what they describe as 50s attitudes - homophobia, religions communalism and, crucially, rampant sexism and mysogny.

      So their opposition to more muslim immigration comes from a diametrically opposite position from your average Daily Heil reader.

      But convincing my parents that the draw bridge should not be pulled up is going to be incredibly difficult for people wanting to make that case.
    • Abdul Abulbul Emir
      Mr Humanist

      Your people didn't run Youth Hostel ?

      I have many fond memory of them.

      Good people. They have nothing to fear from my religion.

      Ladies become very quiet and obedient (at least in public)but can't speak for mother in law.

      So see they can sleep in peace now.

      And peace be upon me as well.
    • persephone
      " rampant sexism and mysogny".

      Like the MCC where, until a few years ago, the only females allowed to enter the bar were waitresses
    • Kismet Hardy
      Muhammad isn't strictly a name, but a title (all the men in my family are called muhammad), but then I've never been sure whether sikhs consider Singh and Kaur proper names either. Dunno
    • Jamie S
      Britain, two generations hence, threatens to become a mere camp site for 77 million people of many races, for whom this represents a mere place to sleep, eat and make money.

      Am I the only one who thinks this sounds quite fun? I like sleeping, eating *and* making money! The more the merrier!
    • Susie
      If there's such a Muslim birth boom why are there not other obviously Muslim names in the top 100? Unless my eyes deceive me, there isn't a single one. The cut off point for the 2008 top 100 is 622 babies, (called Zak, as it happens - oh gosh ins't that the short form of the name Zakaria...). Where are all the Abdullahs, Ahmeds, Mahmouds etc in the top 100? Of course each of these names too lends itself to variant spellings (Ahmad, Mahmood, Abdula, Abdallah etc) so maybe that partly explains it. I suppose even now certain people are poring over the top 1000 or whatever, looking to aggregate Muslim names.
    • Jai
      It seems fantastically na’ve to suppose that many of these newcomers – or even their children born here – will start reading Jane Austen


      That's a "fantastically naive" statement for Hastings to make, considering how well-read a lot of UK-born British Asians tend to be. If he'd spent any significant time with the educated professional contingent in particular then he'd be aware of the tendency of the 2nd-gen crowd to be avid bookworms.
    • Jai
      The Common Humanist,

      Given their very progressive, liberal left backgrounds they just cannot see how having more muslims in the country is progress and they see it as a threat to go back to what they describe as 50s attitudes – homophobia, religions communalism and, crucially, rampant sexism and mysogny.


      Perhaps one way to rectify this stance would be for you to explain to them that Islam is not a monolithic, homogenous religion, and neither are Muslims as a group -- no more than Christianity and Christians are, for example.

      In fact, the famous Sufi singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is holding a series of major concerts in the UK next month as a tribute to his even more famous uncle, the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and will be accompanied with a 75-piece orchestra. Maybe you and your parents should check it out -- the concerts are being held at a number of prestigious venues, including the Royal Festival Hall in London.

      More details, including dates, prices and booking facilities here: http://www.asiansinmedia.org/2009/08/20/nusrat-...

      These are pretty high-class affairs and the audience usually consists of people from a wide range of backgrounds (ie. not just Muslims). The atmosphere at these events is usually very friendly, easygoing and inclusive, and the overall vibe -- thanks to the music and the message that's being conveyed -- is very uplifting and inspiring.

      And in terms of the interpretation of Islam and the attitude towards people of different faiths (or none), it's about as far as you can possibly get from the hardline Islamist stereotype.

      If people really do want to see a very different side to Muslim culture -- one that has absolutely nothing to do with the AQ, Wahhabi, Al-Muhajiroun, HuT and Taliban types, and has historically been far more influential amongst the masses in northern India and Pakistan in particular -- then they should definitely attend one of Rahat's impending concerts.

      I think it would challenge quite a few preconceptions.
    • Soso
      Perhaps one way to rectify this stance would be for you to explain to them that Islam is not a monolithic, homogenous religion, and neither are Muslims as a group — no more than Christianity and Christians are, for example.

      Do you every fly trans-atlantic?

      40% of British Muslims are in favour of sharia. A huge proportion of this commiunity will never be integrated. There are NO historical examples where Majority-Muslim societies treated their non-muslim minorities <in an equitable manner. 500,000 Christians have been chase from Iraq. Buddishits are being massacred in Tahiland. Pakistan's remaining hoindus are fleeing ( 10,000 this year). Egypt has pased legislation that dsicriminates against the country's indigenous peopls, the Copts, and you want me to balm on all this by asking us to go see a Sufi singer?

      Islam is the anti-thesis of everything western, enlightenment values stand for, and it cannot therefore EVER be compatible with western notions of democracy, free speech, freedom of religion, women's rights, gay rights, etc, etc.

      And if you'd pay attenion, you'd noticed that many representatives ( at the UN) of majority-Muslim nations are SAYING AS MUCH

      Islam functions like one big protection racket and when push comes to shove ( and it will) that aspect will quickly come to the fore.

      10,000 Muslims to protest Geert Wilders, anybody?
    • douglas clark
      Hah! Young Jai! Why is he circulating in central England! Why is there no Glasgow date?

      Fri 2 Oct
      Venue: Symphony Hall, Birmingham
      Time: 7.30pm
      Tickets: £25 – £75
      Box Office: 0121 780 3333
      Online bookings: www.thsh.co.uk

      Sat 3 Oct
      Venue: Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
      Time: 7.30pm
      Tickets: £25 – £45
      Box Office: 0015 989 5555
      Online bookings: www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk

      Sun 4 and Wed 7 Oct
      Venue: Royal Festival Hall, London
      Time: 7pm
      Tickets: £25 – £55
      Box Office: 0871 663 2500
      Online bookings: www.southbankcentre.co.uk



      I find that quite annoying, so I do.
    • Shatterface
      'It seems fantastically na’ve to suppose that many of these newcomers – or even their children born here – will start reading Jane Austen or tuning in to The Archers.'

      I have it on good authority that Screwdriver used to open their gigs with a cover version of the theme to 'The Archers'

      Doo-dee-doo
      Dee-doo-dee-doo
      Oi!
      What you lookin' at?
    • douglas clark
      I would, just out of badness, and subject to a revese vasectomy, be willing to name my next kid Mo.

      Just because:

      http://www.jesusandmo.net/
    • Jai
      Douglas,

      I’ve plugged these clips on PP before, but since you’re regrettably going to miss out on the ‘live’ experience, here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

      - This is a slow, romantic, very mellow number by Rahat. The clip is from a televised concert in India.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ueUsrIrCMM

      - And this is a form of traditional Sufi music known as a “qawwali”, sung in this instance by his late uncle Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and a fantastic example of the type of music which Rahat’s impending concerts will predominantly focus on (since they’re dedicated to his uncle).

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xt-j7cojBg4&... continued at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DtX_2ZxN8I&...

      It’s very, very different to the miserable, austere, belligerent and extremely bigotted message that people like Anjem Choudary and his fellow ideologues have been trying to push. In fact, it would completely blow apart some of the negative stereotypes about Muslims which have unfortunately become prevalent in some quarters of British society and the associated media in recent years. And as you can see from the audience in the clips, there isn’t any compulsory ‘veiling’, gender segregation etc either.

      I wish the concerts would get some decent coverage in the mainstream media (ideally as much as possible); Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and his family are very well-known figures amongst South Asians, and his late great uncle in particular was tremendously respected. Especially when you consider how much undeserved exposure people like Choudary get and the extent to which they’ve hijacked the public image of Islam and the perception of Muslims here in Britain.

      I think it would open a lot of people’s eyes.
    • KB Player
      I wish the concerts would get some decent coverage in the mainstream media (ideally as much as possible); Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and his family are very well-known figures amongst South Asians, and his late great uncle in particular was tremendously respected. Especially when you consider how much undeserved exposure people like Choudary get and the extent to which they’ve hijacked the public image of Islam and the perception of Muslims here in Britain.


      Yeah, Germans complain that the only programmes on the telly about Germany are about World War II & Hitler, nothing about Goethe, Schiller etc. The same thing goes for Choudary - though I do notice that the Beeb at least has stopped using him as a representative Muslim mouth.
    • douglas clark
      Jai,

      I think, I quite enjoyed that. But:

      You'll have to excuse me. I've listened to Rahat twice, and whilst I understand perhaps the passion, I have no idea what the heck he's on about.

      Similarily with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. This is probably a real shame, for I think, with no evidence whatsoever, that they are with John Lennon and Imagine, I might be completely wrong!

      My friend there isn't much point in asking a monoglot like me to hear music that I don't understand.

      Perhaps you could translate?

      For I do not think Falcao represtents any Asian I have ever met.

      And, generally speaking, Asians are better than his stereotype.

      Just saying.
    • douglas clark
      Perhaps that needs translation too?
    • Boyo
      "how many people here come from white working class backgrounds?"

      Me. It's ironic really how the generation of NH's parents helped create the situation they now fear: it was those 60's liberals wot were the flag bearers for all things multi.

      Although they doubtless meant well (or maybe not), i've always thought a tremendous class interest was served by mass immigration, ie to disempower the indigenous working class. Oh you say, they didn't want to do those rubbish jobs! Well maybe they would have had they been properly remunerated...

      Anyway, so it is a bit ironic that a strategy to disempower one group has simply helped create another kind of threat. Blowback, I think the CIA call it. Maybe the white working class should convert en masse to Islam... I'd love to see the lettuce-crunchers splutter over the muesli then...

      Anyway (2) Mohammed is only so popular because it's almost the default name of the first boy-child in Muslim households, whereas the others have, like, a thousand to choose from. Doh...
    • soru
      Perhaps one way to rectify this stance would be for you to explain to them that Islam is not a monolithic, homogenous religion, and neither are Muslims as a group — no more than Christianity and Christians are, for example.

      That's one thing, but also true, probably more directly relevant, is that _actually becoming a majority_ within a lifetime or two is something that could only possibly happen as a consequence of some national catastrophe.

      Culture always changes, with older stuff making room for newer. In normal circumstances, Trollope gets forgotten, Austen gets adapted. If you get an unusually big cultural or racial shift over a short time, that's more or less by definition going to be a consequence of something politically unusual.

      Not people getting married and having babies.

      For example, in the 40 years after 1909, Jews went from a minority to a majority in current Israel. But that was a consequence of Palestine having been part of two successive collapsing empires, population flows from wars and oppression elsewhere, and so on.

      It's not particularly likely, but you could imagine something equivalently ugly happening to the UK. That would obviously be a bad thing, for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with either racism or cultural preference.
    • qidniz
      This is a slow, romantic, very mellow number by Rahat.


      That is a surprising description. Slow, yes; mellow, just maybe; romantic, likely not. It's a moody, somewhat brooding, philosophical song, of a kind that the lyricist Gulzar (Sampooran Singh Kalra) is well known for. "Naina thag lenge" means "the eyes will deceive (you)" and the song is all about how believing or trusting what one sees can be disastrous.

      It has become one of Rahat's signature songs, though.
    • Jai
      Qidniz,

      Thanks for the clarification -- you're right, of course. I was referring more to the general style of the music rather than the lyrics. Getting momentarily distracted by the brief shot of the lovely Mini Mathur might have had something to do with it too.

      For people unfamiliar with Indian cinema, the song is from a film called "Omkara" a couple of years ago, which was basically the Indian version of "Othello" (the director had already released an Indian version of "Macbeth" called "Maqbool" a few years previously). Both films were extremely successful and also very popular for their music.

      In any case, readers will presumably be aware of the basic plotline of "Othello" so the song obviously fits in well with the way the tragic love story develops.
    • Jai
      Douglas,

      Qidniz has obviously already kindly done the honours with translating Rahat's song. Regarding the "qawwali" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan -- the lyrics are basically about Heer & Ranjha, the most well-known Indian equivalent of the Romeo & Juliet story. The song is in the first-person as though Heer was singing it about her lover Ranjha. However, it's simultanously about a lot more than that too.

      A full English translation of the lyrics can be found here: http://www.angelfire.com/poetry/sweets/poetry4/...

      As you can see, it's quite passionate stuff, and is also a forceful condemnation of false piety and an adherence to empty religious ritualism and orthodoxy.

      The lyrics are attributed to the late 17th/early 18th century Sufi Bulleh Shah who you may have noticed me mention a few times previously on PP. Wikipedia has a summary of his life and message: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulleh_Shah
    • damon
      Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan singing Sajna Tere Bina is wonderful. Looking at the audience I wondered where it was.
    • Jai
      Soso,

      1) Britain is never going to become a 'Muslim-majority' state. Soru's explanation in #28 is pretty accurate.

      2) Islam is not a homogenous, monolithic religion, as I mentioned earlier -- certainly not where the Indian subcontinent is concerned (and people with roots in that region who now live overseas). To a great extent this also applies to the history of Islam in neighbouring Iran/Persia, irrespective of the efforts of the modern-day religious orthodoxy there. Your objections about its "incompatibility" with various "western enlightenment values" could just as easily apply to Christianity if one was similarly going to make false, generalised assumptions about that religion and its adherents. And since you've mentioned Pakistan, perhaps you didn't notice the defiant public protests in the country's Punjab and Sindh provinces against the Taliban earlier this year -- both regions of Pakistan where Sufism has historically been extremely influential amongst the masses.

      3) Finally, rather than ranting at me, I suggest you do some research on the history of Islam in general and Sufism specifically in both the Indian subcontinent and Iran; you should also read through those links I supplied above; and most of all, if you agree that it's a good move to base one's opinions on direct first-hand experience, I suggest you book a ticket for one of Rahat's concerts next month.

      Once you've done all that, you'll be in a genuine position to get back to the rest of us and discuss this matter properly.
    • Jai
      I suggest you do some research on the history of Islam in general and Sufism specifically in both the Indian subcontinent


      In fact, Soso, since you appear to be a proponent of the notion of "Islam is Islam and the West is the West, and never the twain shall meet", it would probably also be a great idea for you to read White Mughals by William Dalrymple.

      Since it's an exhaustively-researched historical non-fiction book describing the experiences of various real-life Western residents in India, predominantly British and to a lesser extent also people from mainland Europe and even America, at a time when the Muslim influence in the areas of the subcontinent discussed was dominant, I think you'll find it very enlightening reading.

      Summary and reviews here: http://www.amazon.com/White-Mughals-Betrayal-Ei...

      and here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/White-Mughals-Betrayal-...
    • douglas clark
      Jai and Qidniz,

      Thanks for that.

      I'd like to take a position, is that right, on what soru had to say too?

      I'd have thought being a Muslim, seeing yourself essentially that way, would fade a bit as time goes by.

      I, for instance, have never met anyone that sees themselves as a Huguenot or the like? Perhaps you could enlighten me?
    • Jai
      Douglas,

      Yes I think Soru is right.

      As for "seeing oneself essentially as Muslim", well I'm not a Muslim myself and as far as I know neither is Qidniz, so we're not really in a position to speak directly for members of that faith.

      However, people have different composite aspects to their identities (which become dominant -- or not, as the case may be -- depending on the specific situation) and Muslims in and from many parts of the world where there is a minority or indeed majority of Muslims are no different. It's been that way for a very long time.
    • douglas clark
      Jai,

      Hmm...

      However, people have different composite aspects to their identities (which become dominant — or not, as the case may be — depending on the specific situation) and Muslims in and from many parts of the world where there is a minority or indeed majority of Muslims are no different. It’s been that way for a very long time.


      Dunno.

      I genuinely think that identity is overplayed, especially around here. I can, for instance, agree with you, without having to apply an identity filter before discussing stuff with you.

      Or disagee with you, whatever.

      It doesn't make you right or me wrong.

      That is, perhaps, the point?
    • Jai
      Look at it this way, Douglas. Sometimes (for example) the Scottish aspect of your identity will come to the fore, sometimes it will not, and most of the time what you say, do or think about any given topic will depend on you as an individual.

      The same as most other people in the world, except for those who really are inordinately fixated on what they believe to be the bureaucratic dictates of their racial/ethnic, national, regional, religious, denominational, class or professional identity.

      As for Muslims/Islam in general, they have different sects and individual & group-based interpretations of their religion just like most other major faiths in the world, and it goes well beyond the Shia/Sunni divide.

      Just because the Wahhabi/Salafi, and to some extent Deobandi types, with their historical ideological predecessors in the Naqshbandis (in India, anyway) and other contemporary and historical groups with a similar interpretation of Islam have been/currently are problematic, it doesn't mean that they should necessarily be taken as representative of "the average Muslim" or be assumed to reflect the definitive beliefs and attitudes of the majority of ordinary Muslims. As with most things, it depends on the specific location, the specific region of origin, the specific individual, and even the specific point in history.

      No more than one should ignore the very large number of sects and interpretations within Christianity today and historically, or take the actions of European colonialists (including the British during the Victorian era in particular) who believed they had a God-given divine right to forcibly impose their rule on the rest of the non-Christian human race by any means necessary, or many Christian members of the Confederacy in mid-19th century America who believed they had a God-given right to own slaves, or the modern-day "Christian" KKK and St George's flag-waving BNP, to represent Christianity and Christians as a whole, regardless of what they may claim.

      (I know that you're already aware of this, Douglas; my remarks are for the benefit of the wider audience).

      The moral of the story is that, fundamentally, people are just people at the end of the day, and our common humanity should come first and foremost. Which, as those familiar with the matter will already know, is what Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, his family, their message, their supporters, and their particular ideological Sufi predecessors are all about.

      As were Bulleh Shah, Mian Mir, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Baba Farid, Rumi, Saadi, Hafez, Omar Khayyam, and numerous other influential historical Muslim figures in India and Iran, for example.....and if anyone reading this doesn't have a clue who I'm talking about but claims to have an accurate understanding of Muslims and Islamic history, coupled with apocalyptic warnings about Muslims' alleged "incompatibility" with modern life and universally-acknowledge civilised, humanitarian values...well, I guess you have some more research to do.
    • Boyo
      Hoorah for the Sufis. They're the Unitarians of Islam...
    • douglas clark
      Jai,

      I'm sorry I'd missed your reply earlier. Thanks for posting that.

      You may find this interesting:

      http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/ian-bell/...

      even if it only for the awful headline.
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