Muḥammad is the world’s most popular name for boys. The king of Morocco, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the president of Egypt are all named Muḥammad, and when the famous boxer Cassius Clay became a Muslim, he was given the name Muhammad Ali. If there is a Muslim family in the world that does not have a brother, grandfather, or uncle named Muḥammad, they almost certainly have a relative who has been given one of the Prophet’s other names: Muṣtafā’, Aḥmad, or al-Amīn. One also finds the names Muḥammadī (“Muḥammad like”) and Muḥammadayn (“double Muḥammad”). These habits of naming are indicative of a popular devotion to the Prophet that enhances, and in some cases overwhelms, the historical limits of the man who died more than fourteen centuries ago. The fact of this devotion should not surprise. The popular veneration of Muḥammad is quite similar to that offered to Jesus, the Buddha, and countless other religious figures around the world; Yet time and again - whether in reaction to Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses or to cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten - Muslims’ reactions in defense of their prophet have caught non-Muslims off guard; There are many reasons for this gap in understanding, but three concern me here. First, although Jesus and the Buddha have overwhelmingly positive reputations in contemporary Western civilization, that of Muḥammad is decidedly more mixed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Arts and Humanities