Great Britain's Muslim population, particularly Muslims living in greater London, is growing so fast that it is now acknowledged as the most prolific minority group there today. In fact, so fast is this ethnic group increasing in size, one only has to walk through the maternity ward of most British hospitals to see how many babies are being born to Muslim parents.
One recent indication of this phenomenon was a revelation that the most popular name being given to new born males in the U.K. is Muhammad, the prophet and historic founder of the religion known as Islam. Not that the name Muhammad hasn't been popular with Muslim mothers outside of the U.K. At least 1 in 3 new-born Muslim males are given the name Muhammad, especially those born into fundamentalist Muslim families. That the name has become popular amongst the fastest growing segment of Gt. Britain's population indicates that the future trend for this country's demographic make up is obvious to all.
The British government is trying to tighten up immigration policies to make it more difficult for new immigrants to enter the U.K. Despite this effort, however, a considerable number of new immigrants from Muslim countries continue to enter the U.K. each year; many of them illegally. This fact, coupled with a high birth rate for Muslim women of 6-8 children per childbearing Muslim woman compared to less than three for non-Muslim women, means that a Muslim population that is now approached 5 million is expected to double in the next 15 - 20 years.
Like other Western countries where minority immigrant populations have grown considerably, the British government has no one to blame but themselves for maintaining an 'open door' policy for peoples who originated from former British colonies and Commonwealth countries, particularly India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and more than half of the African continent. Muslims from these countries naturally took advantage of British generosity, especially after the partition of India in 1947. On a smaller scale, Muslims from Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Jordan, and the territory which became the State of Israel in 1948, also came to live in Great Britain following the end of the Mandate period.
Muslims living in London, Manchester, and other major cities have established their own neighborhoods and culture, a phenomenon which has become even more evident with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. The recent 2005 bombings in central London were carried out by young Muslims of Pakistani origin, and at least three of them held British nationality. As the Muslim population increases, so will undoubtedly an increase in Islamic radicalism, which could result in further suicide bombings.
This is the reality of the 'brave new world' that Great Britain will have to cope with; especially the government which comes to power after Prime Minister Tony Blair leaves office in only two weeks. With the name Muhammad now the most popular name for a male child, it probably won't be long until Amira or Fatima will be the name of choice for female newborns as well. This possibility is definitely something for the Archbishop of Canterbury to ponder; especially with more Muslims attending mosques on Friday than Anglican Christians attending churches on Sunday.
And will this someday result in Canterbury Cathedral someday becoming the Great Mosque of Canterbury? Only time will tell.