11 07, 2012

Report on the Inter-Religious Tensions and Crisis in Nigeria

July 11th, 2012|A Common Word Between Us and You|

of the International Joint Delegation of The World Council of Churches and The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, May 2012

Click Here to Download

20 01, 2011

Profile: Conservative chairman Baroness Warsi

January 20th, 2011|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

As chairman of the Conservative Party, Baroness Warsi is the first Muslim woman to be a Cabinet minister.

Before that, she was shadow minister for community cohesion, with a reputation for speaking her mind.

She came to public prominence in 2009 after a well-reviewed performance on BBC One’s Question Time when BNP leader Nick Griffin was on the panel.

There had been nervousness in Tory circles beforehand, as she was seen as somewhat gaffe-prone.

But David Cameron had long valued her plain-speaking approach – and the fact that she represented the sort of multicultural, classless party he wanted to build.

A comprehensive-school-educated Asian woman, who speaks with a Yorkshire accent, she has risen rapidly to the top of a party opponents often depict as being dominated by white, privately educated men. She arrived at her first cabinet meeting in May dressed in a traditional South Asian shalwar kameez.

‘Working class’

She shares the role of party chairman with Baron Feldman of Elstree, a fashion tycoon and long standing friend of David Cameron, who does not attend cabinet.

But she is also a minister without portfolio, with licence to speak out on a range of issues – and she has not been afraid to court controversy, particularly when speaking out about what she sees as the rise of Islamaphobia in Britain.

Last year, she told the New Statesman: “If you have a pop at the British Muslim community in the media, then first of all it will sell a few papers; second, it doesn’t really matter; and third, it’s fair game.

“If you go back historically – [and] I was looking at some Evening Standard headlines, where there were things written about the British Jewish community less than 100 years ago – they have kind of replaced one with the other.”

Educated at Leeds University, Baroness Warsi describes herself as a “Northern, working-class roots, urban, working mum”.

In 2004, she gave up her job as a solicitor – and a £130,000 annual salary – to stand for Parliament in her home town of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

She lost to Labour’s Shahid Malik, but was given a peerage to enable her to enter the shadow cabinet.

She served as a special adviser on community relations to previous Conservative leader Michael Howard and became a vice-chairman of the party in 2005.

Fluent in Punjabi, Urdu and Gujarati, she has a daughter, but her 17-year marriage ended in divorce three years ago.

In 2007 she was accused of pandering to the BNP – a claim she described as “ludicrous” – after she told a Sunday newspaper immigration had been out of control and was making people “uneasy”.


Last year, she provoked a storm of protest by claiming electoral fraud “predominantly within the Asian community” had cost the Conservatives three seats at the general election, although she declined to name the seats in question.

On another occasion, a row erupted after she was reported as saying “Muslims that go to parliament don’t have any morals or principles”.

Her comments were made in Urdu, at a private dinner, and she said they had been misinterpreted.

“I said that the definition of a good MP is someone that stands up for their constituents and who understands the communities they represent, not necessarily someone that ticks a particular ethnic box,” she explained in a statement.

She annoyed some in her party just last week, on the day after the poor Conservative showing in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election.

Responding to claims that they had run a deliberately half-hearted campaign, in order to give the Lib Dems a better chance, she said: “I would say to those who are critical: ‘Unless you were here, unless you were out delivering and unless you were knocking on doors, you really don’t have a right to complain about us not being vigorous enough’.”

Some right wing commentators described it as her “nasty party” moment – referring to previous Tory chairman Theresa May’s frank party conference speech that angered much of the rank and file.

Baroness Warsi says her admiration for Conservative principles is inspired by the example of her father, who made his way from working in a mill to running a £2m-a-year bed manufacturing firm.

The 39-year-old has also worked with Pakistan’s Ministry of Law on a project to fight forced marriage.

Last year she was named one of the world’s “500 Most Influential Muslims” by Middle East think tank the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre. She also topped the UK’s Muslim women power list.


9 11, 2010

‘The 500 Most Influential Muslims’ in year 2010

November 9th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre has published the 2010 edition of its book ‘The 500 Most Influential Muslims’.The Amir of tablighi Jamaat is at position 16 and he is only one of two muslims who are mentioned in this book (top 50)  and belong to Pakistan. this book can be download free from Here is the descrition give in book about amir of Tablighi Jamaat


Amir of Tablighi Jamaat, Pakistan

Leader of the Pakistan chapter of the Tablighi Jamaat—a transnational Islamic organization dedicated to spreading the message of religious conservatism and renewed spirituality—Hajji Abd al Wahhab is a prominent Pakistani scholar with a significant following in South Asia and the United Kingdom. Although the organization does not have a central authority, Abd al Wahhab has been increasingly influential in his leadership of the throngs of Muslims that follow the international movement in Pakistan and abroad.

As Amir, or leader of Pakistan’s Tablighi Jamaat, Hajji Abd al Wahhab’s influence spans globally due to the organization’s emphasis on missionary work. Considered a foremost da’ee, or inviter to the faith of Islam, Abd al Wahhab has spoken about the need to return to the correct beliefs and practices of Islam in numerous countries and congregations.

Champion of Conservatism

Abd al Wahhab urges Muslims to repent for their sins and to emulate the life of the Prophet Muhammad by adhering to the sunna—the Prophet’s teachings and deeds. Among these is an exhortation to partake in the act of da’wa or spreading the message of the faith. The Tablighi Jamaat has gradually acquired a massive membership base owing to this core tenet. Abd al Wahhab’s work is derived from close ties to the founder of the Tablighi Jamaat, Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Kandhelvi, and stems from the prominent Islamic institution Darul Uloom Deoband, in India, where the latter studied before establishing a following in Pakistan.
Mass Appeal

Among the throngs of Pakistanis, diaspora South Asians, and others who carry the flag of the Tablighi Jamaat are notable Muslim leaders. In Pakistan alone, Abd al Wahhab’s influence has won the allegiance of prominent politicians, actors, and athletes. Despite his influence over key Muslim leaders from various fields of social power, Abd al Wahhab is consistent in his assertion that the organization is wholly apolitical—identifying the work of the Tablighi Jamaat as a spiritual revivalist movement.

Advocate of Non-Violence

In light of heightened incidences of violence by fringe Islamic militant groups, Abd al Wahhab has publicly stated the importance of non-violence in bringing people closer to the faith of Islam. This comes after the tragic Mumbai attacks which investigations found were linked to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba; a militant organization Abd al Wahhab has made a point of distancing the Tablighi Jamaat from




9 11, 2010

World’s 25th Most Influential Muslim

November 9th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

Mon, 11/08/2010

The Second volume of The 500 Most Influential Muslims 2010 ranks Sheikh Salman al-Oadah at number 25. 

This is the second volume of the annual series published by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman Jordan. In the first volume, published in 2009 in coperation with Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Sheikh Salman was ranked as number 19. The 2009 edition was highly popular, with its e-book version being downloaded more than 150,000 times. 

Political leaders top the list in both 2009 and 2010, with HRH King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ranking first both times. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan moved from the fifth to the second slot. 

There are certain significant changes. In the 2009 edition, because women were poorly represented in the 500, the editors felt the need to list “women” as a category on its own. In the 2010 edition, no such gender segregation is made. Rather, women are mentioned under various categories, like “Scholarly”, “Media”, “Youth”, and “Arts and Culture”. Moreover, there is a section on “Women’s Issues” listing those women who “have been trailblazers in their respective fields, often being the first in breaking social boundaries.” 

The book categorizes Sheikh Salman as a “Saudi scholar and educator” and describes him as an “advocate of peaceful coexistence”. 

He is seen as “increasingly influential due to his innovative reach in the Muslim world propagated via and his persistent efforts ministering to the needs of the global Muslim community.” 

“His work has far-reaching impact in an age when religion is spread through media and technology, with at the forefront of this trend.” 

The entry on Sheikh Salman al-Oadah singles out his defense of Facebook as an example of his positive influence, mentioning his response to a 2010 ruling from the Al Azhar Fatwa Committee condemning the use of Facebook. Sheikh Salman defended the social networking website, stating that he uses it to communicate with Muslims across the globe and to provide Islamic guidance online. 

Sheikh Salman has over 4,000 Facebook friends and over 11,000 fans through the site. 

The entry on Sheikh Salman also describes him as an “Innovative Educator”, saying he has “become an authority for Muslims and non-Muslims worldwide who access—a Saudi-funded website dedicated to providing Islamic educational resources in English, Arabic, French and Chinese. He also addresses Islamic issues on the Saudi satellite channel MBC.” 

Finally, Sheikh Salman is defined as an “advocate of non-violence” who is “outspoken about the importance of inculcating love and mercy as opposed to violence (except in valid cases of self-defense) in the daily lives of Muslims.”


6 10, 2010

The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World 2010

October 6th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|


Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre of Jordan released a report on 500 most influential Muslims 2010. The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre is an independent research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought. The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought is an international Islamic non-governmental, independent institute headquartered in Amman, Jordan.

For full report, click here: The 500 Most Influential Muslims 2010

(Note: I just highlight the Malaysian most influential Muslims in 6 different categories i.e. political, scholarly, administrative, preacher, science and technology and arts and culture)


Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin
The Yang DiPertuan Agong is the constitutional monarch of Malaysia, with a population of 25.9 million. He is also the Sultan of Terengganu and currently one of the youngest and longest-reigning Malay rulers. As King, he is also considered the Head of Islam.

Anwar Ibrahim
Ibrahim is a Malaysian politician of global stature. He is the former deputy prime minister of Malaysia, former finance minister and is currently the leader of the Malaysian opposition coalition. He is well-known for his liberal Islamic stance on politics, and is very influential as a leader and role model for young people. Ibrahim’s coalition now controls four of 13 state governments. If led by Anwar, it would have a fair chance of winning the next national election in 2013.

Dr Wan Azizah Ismail
Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is the president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People’s Justice Party). She was Leader of the Opposition Party until she stepped down for Anwar Ibrahim.

Najib Tun Razak
Razak became the 6th prime minister of Malaysia in 2009. He is focused on domestic economic issues and political reform, promotes economic liberalization, and has stated that Malaysia is led by Islamic principles and is not a secular state. Razak is also the president of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO).


Al Akiti, Dr. Muhammad Afifi
Dr Muhammad Afifi al Akiti is a briliant young scholar, a trained theologian and philologist. He is a lecturer of Islamic studies with the Faculty of Theology at Oxford University, a KFAS Fellow in Islamic Studies, and a fellow at Worcester College. He is internationally acclaimed for his 2005 fatwa, ‘Defending the transgressed by censuring the reckless against the killing of civilians’ written in response to the 7 July London bombings, which was praised by scholars of Islam and gained a massive readership on the internet.

Al Attas, Dr Syed Muhammad Naquib
Dr al Attas is considered by many to be a scholar giant in the Muslim world. An influential philosopher and thinker, he is well-written on the traditional Islamic sciences as well as sufism, metaphysics, and philosophy. He has served at various global academic institutions as an educator and lead administrator and is also a noted calligrapher.

Kamali, Prof. Dr. Mohammad Hashim
Kamali is the world’s leading expert and author on comparative studies between Islamic and modern law. He is one of the most prolific producers of quality scholarship on Islam in the world today. Originally from Afghanistan, Kamali is a dean and professor at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC) and the International Islamic University in Malaysia. Kamali is also the current Chairman and CEO of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies in Malaysia.


Nik Mat, Dato’ Haji Nick Abdul Aziz
Dato’ Haji Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat is a Malaysian politician, an Islamic scholar and has been the chief minister of the State of Kelantan for the past 20 years. He holds the position of Mursyidul Am—the religious guide—within the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS). As the religious guide of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, Nik Mat is the spiritual leader of Malaysian Islamic politics and holds very important sway over the tenor of politics in the nation. Nik Mat’s fundamentalist party has close to one million members and enjoys strong support from the northern rural and conservative states such as Kelantan and Terengganu.


Ibrahim, Dato Mashitah
Ibrahim is a prominent motivational preacher in Malaysia, and a lecturer in Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia, who is now active in politics. Sultan Pahang awarded her the honorary title ‘dato’ for her devotion to da’wa initiatives in 2000. Her views and opinions on contemporary Islamic issues receive wide attention.

Science and Technology

Shukor, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar
Dr Shukor, an orthopedic surgeon by profession, became the first Malaysian in space when he was selected as one of two astronauts to be trained at Star City in Russia and subsequently selected to be the astronaut to further Malaysia’s Angkasawan program, which sent him to the International Space Station in 2007. He successfully conducted scientific experiments while in space. His launch also prompted the Malaysian National Fatwa Council to issue specific rulings regarding observance of religious obligations (praying and fasting) while in space. In 2010 Shukor was appointed as one of the ambassadors of Malaysia’s nationwide reading campaign to encourage literacy among children.

Arts and Culture

Raihan are a world famous Malaysian nasheed group with four members: Che Amran Idris, Abu Bakar Md Yatim, Amran Ibrahim and Zulfadli Bin Mustaza. Since their coming together in 1996, they have made 11 albu

6 10, 2010

The 500 Most Influential Muslims – 2010

October 6th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

This publication is the second of an annual series that provides a window into the movers and shakers of the Muslim world. It highlights people who are influential as Muslims, that is, people whose influence is derived from their practice of Islam or from the fact that they are Muslim. It gives valuable insight into the different ways that Muslims impact the world, and also shows the diversity of how people are living as Muslims today.

6 10, 2010

Ottawans among “world’s most influential Muslims”

October 6th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

Two Ottawa-area residents, Shaykh Muhammad AlShareef and Imam Dr. Zijad Delic, are included in this year’s listing of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims.

Imam Zijad, 45, executive director of the Canadian Islamic Congress, appears for the second year in a row in the 500 Most Influential Muslims study published by the independent Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre of Amman, Jordan.


Imam Zijad was formerly the imam of the 57,000-member British Columbia Muslim Association and is a veteran writer, commentator and speaker on issues around Muslim integration and multiculturalism.

The imam is listed in the “administration” category, while Shaykh Muhammad AlShareef features for his prominence in the field of “development”. According to the editors of the RISSC study, John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin of Georgetown University, Washington, personalities featured in this category are those who “have dedicated their lives to civic engagement, community work, activism and conflict resolution to influence communities through policy change, governance, and advocacy for sustainable development.”

Shaykh Muhammad, 35, is the founder of Al Maghrib Institute, an innovative Islamic educational institution that offers university-level instruction of Islamic studies through seminars and retreats. The youthful scholar, who was born and raised in Canada, memorized the Quran at an early age and holds a degree in Islamic Law from the Islamic University of Madina.

Shaykh Muhammad is also the founder of DiscoverU project, an online community that offers resources and life coaches for those navigating financial, financial, marital or emotional obstacles in life. He is a highly sought after teacher and public speaker.

The 2010 edition of 500 Most Influential Muslims marks the first time that CIC President Wahida Valiante – a career social worker/therapist, social justice advocate and author – has been included in the rankings.

Mrs. Valiante, a founding member of CIC, is also chairperson of the highly successful Islamic History Month Canada, which celebrates Islamic arts, science and culture in major centres across Canada every October. As one of this country’s most proactive and energetic Muslim women, she is a frequent guest speaker, panelist, consultant, or interviewee on a variety of political and social issues.

Like Imam Delic, Mrs. Valiante was singled out by RISSC researchers for extraordinary achievement in the category of administration. Canadian Muslims honoured in other fields include: Dr. Jamal Badawi (under “preachers”), Dany Doueiri (under “development”), Ingrid Mattson (“scholarship”), Zarqa Nawaz (under “arts and culture”), Faisal Kutty (under “law”) and Nazim Baksh (under “media”).

Canadians mentioned in last year’s list but not included in 2010 are: Shaykh Ahmad Kutty, Dr. Mohammad ElMasry, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Imam Hamid Slimi, Dawud Wharnsby Ali, Amin Amir and Kanaan Warsame.

For a copy of the study, visit:

6 10, 2010

IIUI president among 500 most influential Muslims

October 6th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|\09\30\story_30-9-2010_pg11_9

IIUI president among 500 most influential Muslims

ISLAMABAD: Prof Dr Anwar Hussain Siddiqui, president of the International Islamic University Islamabad has been named among the 500 `Most Influential Muslims of the year 2010’ by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center. 

This Centre is an independent research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought. 

The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought is an international Islamic non-governmental, independent institute headquartered in Amman, Jordan. 

The Center has published the third edition of its book entitled: “The 500 Most Influential Muslims 2010”. This publication provides a window into the movers and shakers of the Muslim world. 

It highlights people who are influential as Muslims, that is, people whose influence is derived from their practice of Islam or from the fact that they are Muslim. 

It gives valuable insight into the different ways that Muslims impact the world, and also shows the diversity of how people are living as Muslims today.

The book states, “Siddiqui is the president of the International Islamic University in Islamabad, a school aiming to produce scholars and practitioners able to use their Islamic learning to meet the economic, social, political, and intellectual needs of the ummah”. 

This is a singular honour not only for the President but for the University itself as it feels proud that it is led by a renowned personality of the Muslim world. 

Dr Siddiqui’s association with the International Islamic University dates back to its founding years as he has been entrusted with several important and strategic assignments from time to time during the past 25 years.

Under his supervision, the university has expanded in many directions in way of setting up of academic Departments, introduction of qualified Faculty, growth of the University budget, growth of infrastructure and all resulting in the growth in the enrollment of students, thus bringing it to the position of the third largest public sector university of the country. app

6 10, 2010

Dr. Siddiqui, President IIUI in the 500 Most Influential Muslims

October 6th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

Prof. Dr. Anwar Hussain Siddiqui, President of the International Islamic University, Islamabad which is currently celebrating its Silver Jubilee, has been named amongst the 500 most influential Muslims of the year 2010 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center. This Centre is an independent research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought. The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought is an international Islamic non-governmental, independent institute headquartered in Amman, the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The Center has published the third edition of its book entitled: “THE 500 MOST INFLUENTIAL MUSLIMS 2010”. This publication provides a window into the movers and shakers of the Muslim world. It highlights people who are influential as Muslims, that is, people whose influence is derived from their practice of Islam or from the fact that they are Muslim. It gives valuable insight into the different ways that Muslims impact the world, and also shows the diversity of how people are living as Muslims today.

The Citation as follows:

6 10, 2010

Suhaib Webb

October 6th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

September 31, 2009 | The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center

“The 500 Most Influential Muslims | 2010”

“Imam Suhaib Webb is a student at Al Azhar University in Egypt and has subsequently come to prominence as a young American preacher and activist from Oklahoma. He has a substantial following of Muslim youth who visit his website and attend his lectures in throngs due to his unique appeal and moderate approach to Islam…”

Read more…

6 10, 2010

Harun Yahya

October 6th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre”, which is an international research organization based in Jordan, published a book that compiled the most influential Muslims of the year 2010. In the work titled “The Most Influential 500 Muslims of 2010” Mr. Adnan Oktar was introduced as the Authority on Islamic Creationism”in the 45th rank. In the publication that the author was introduced as “The Leader of Scientific Movement” these lines was reported

Influence: The world’s foremost authority on Creationism and Islam, has a huge fan base of more than 1.6 million people.

Writing under the pen name Harun Yahya, Adnan Oktar has gained international prominence as a spokesperson for creationism but also garners influence from his numerous and extensively distributed publications about Islam, and Islamic children’s books. He is vocal about his stance against Darwinism and materialism and he is outspoken on the necessity to implement these ideas on the west.

Prominent Pro-Creationist

6 10, 2010

Dr.Farhat Hashimi

October 6th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

This List of 500 Most Influential Muslims 2010 is the second of the annual series which highlights people who are influential as Muslims, published by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, in Amman, Jordan.

The book lists the 500 most influential people in the Muslim world, breaking the people into several distinct categories. The Top 50 are only in the International Islamic Networks and Issues of the Day lists, where as the rest of the 450 leaders are categorized by their diverse fields of work and appear unranked under their country in various categories. Under the category scholarly, the scholars, thinkers, and educators have been chosen who have made significant contributions to the study and cultivation of Islamic knowledge and Muslim culture.

6 10, 2010

NZ pair among 500 top Muslims in world

October 6th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

NZ pair among 500 top Muslims in world

Two New Zealanders have been ranked among the 500 most influential Muslims in the world.

Anwar Ghani, president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), and Kireka Whaanga, leader of the Aotearoa Maori Muslim Association, appear alongside kings, sheikhs and preachers in the list published by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISSC) in Jordan.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia heads the list as the world’s most influential Muslim, followed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey (2); Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran (3); King Abdullah of Jordan (4); and King Mohammed of Morocco (5).

The top 50 were ranked, with the other 450 (including Dr Ghani and Mr Whaanga) named in 10 categories: scholarly, political, administrative, lineage, preachers, women’s issues, youth, philanthropy, development and science.

Both New Zealanders appeared under the administrative category.

The RISSC website said of Dr Ghani: “His work leading FIANZ has been considerable, building bridges with the Government as well as with the broader New Zealand population and leaders of other faiths.”

Mr Whaanga led the main organisation for New Zealand’s Maori Muslims, it said.
Dr Ghani said told the New Zealand Herald he was humbled to be on the list.

“It is truly a great honour to be included and sharing the list with great Muslim kings and preachers.”

Islam is the world’s second largest religion after Christianity.
New Zealand is home to 37,000 Muslims.

6 10, 2010

Two Circles

October 6th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims: Mufti Akhtar Raza Khan, Mahmood Madani, Badruddin Ajmal included

Submitted by admin4 on 23 August 2010 – 7:55pm.

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi,,

New Delhi: Among 500 Most Influential Muslims of the world, there are more than a dozen personalities from India. The top 50, however, include three known figures from the country of second largest Muslim population: Barelwi leader Mufti Akhtar Raza Khan, Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind leader Maulana Mahmood Madani and Dawoodi Bohra leader Dr Syedna Mohammad Burhannuddin.

While the top 10 list, overwhelmed with the presence of kings and rulers, has no Muslim personality from India, the list of top 50 influential Muslims from across the world and walks of life has got three from India. While Mufti Akhtar Raza Khan is on 26th Maulana Mahmood Madani and Dr Syedna Mohammad Burhannuddin are on 40th and 47th rank respectively.

The list has been prepared by Oman based The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISSC).The website of RISSC says it is an independent research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought. The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought is an international Islamic non-governmental, independent institute headquartered in Amman, the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. This is the second year that RISSC has released such list.

Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre:

Full list of 500 Most Influential Muslims:

The list of top 50 also has Grand Ayatollah Hajj Sayyid Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Rank 3), and Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Iranian Opposition Leader (Rank 46). However, Iranian president is missing. The list also includes Hajji Mohammed Abd al Wahhab, Amir of Tablighi Jamaat, Pakistan (Rank 16), Seyyed Hasan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah (Rank 18), Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, Brother Leader of the Revolution of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (Rank 27) and Khaled Mashaal, Leader of Hamas (Rank 38).

Top 10

His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
His Excellency Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey
His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Hajj Sayyid Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
His Majesty King Mohammed VI, King of Morocco
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id al Sa’id, Sultan of Oman
His Eminence Professor Dr Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad al Tayeb, Grand Sheikh of the Al Azhar University, Grand Imam of the Al Azhar Mosque
His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hussein Sistani, Marja of the Hawza, Najaf,Iraq
His Excellency President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia
His Eminence Sheikh Dr Ali Goma’a, Grand Mufti of The Arab Republic of Egypt

Indian Personalities

RISSC describes 63-year-old Mufti Muhammad Akhtar Raza Khan Qaadiri Al Azhari as Grand Mufti of India, Barelwi Leader and Spiritual Guide. His influence, RISSC says, is among approximately 2 million Barkatiya Barelwis worldwide. His school of thought is traditional Sunni, Hanafi, Sufi. Mufti Muhammad Akhtar Raza Khan is the leader of the Indian Barelwis and considered by his followers as the Grand Mufti of India. He is the great-grandson of Ahmed Raza Khan (d. 1921), who founded the Barelwi movement in South Asia.

46-year-old Maulana Mahmood Madani is leader and Executive Member of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, India. His influence spreads over 10 million Muslims who are “members of Madani’s Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind. His Source of Influence is Scholarly, Political, Administrative. A little down in ranking (in 2009 at 36, and in 2010 at 40) Maulana Mahmood Madani, a leading Islamic scholar and politician in India, has gained influence for his forthright condemnations of terrorism and unfaltering support of the Indian Muslim community, says the institute.

85-year-old Dr Syedna Mohammad Burhannuddin Saheb is the 52nd Da‘i l-Mutlaq of the Dawoodi Bohras. His influence is among 1 million Dawoodi Bohras in the world. His school of thought is traditional Ismaili Shi’a, Dawoodi Bohra. He has also slipped. In 2009 he was at 45,now at 47. “Mohammad Burhanuddin Saheb is the leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community,which stems from the Ismaili Shi’a sect of Islam. As leader of the Bohras, he has been influential in the fields of education and the development of community institutions in Mumbai, India and across the globe.

The 500 Most Influential Muslims have been put in 15 categories of influence – Scholarly,Political, Administrative, Lineage, Preachers, Women’s Issues, Youth,Philanthropy,Development,Science/Technology/Medicine/Law, Arts and Culture, Media, Radicals, International Islamic Networks, and Issues of the Day.

Scholarly: Asghar Ali Engineer, Prof Sayid Ameen Mian Qaudri (in 2009, he was at rank 44
among top 50), Maulana Kalbe Sadiq (New)

Administrative: Syed Ahmad Bukhari [New]

Preachers: Dr Zakir Naik

Philanthropy: Maulana Badruddin Ajmal Qasmi [New]

Science/Technology/Medicine/Law: Dr APJ Abdul Kalam

Arts and Culture: Maqbool Fida Husain, Shahrukh Khan, Allah Rakha Rahman

Asghar Ali Engineer has also been listed in the category of Issues of the Day for working among Muslims on AIDS/HIV. “The Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN), of which Engineer is chairman, seeks to build awareness and capacity among Muslim communities in Asia so that they may effectively respond to the growing problem of HIV/AIDS,” says RISSC.

6 10, 2010

The 99

October 6th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|,ckl

Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, creator of THE 99 superheroes, was listed again in ‘The 500 Most Influential Muslims’ list published by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, Jordan. THE 99 has helped put Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa back on the list for the second year in a row. 

Click to visit the RISSC website.

6 10, 2010


October 6th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISC) of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has awarded Maldives State Minister for Islamic Affairs Shaheem Ali Saeed among the 500 most influential Muslims- 2010.

Shaheem Ali Saeed was lauded among the most influential muslims in the administrative platform in the Muslim world today.

“Saeed, is the minister of state for Islamic Affairs for the Republic of Maldives. His knowledge of Islam has provided good leadership to his ministry, especially in the drafting of regulations under the Religious Unity Act of the Maldives which, he believes, would provide a legal frame work to protect Islam. Saeed is also collaborating with the Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation to introduce a new television channel which would focus on relating Islam to the broader issues of society. He was a member of the World Islamic People’s Leadership and the Islamic Fiqh Academy in the Maldives,” said the publication.

RISC’s publication also named influential figures of various sects within Islam such as Salam Al Awdah and Aaid Al-Qarni from Muslim Brotherhood, Ali Khamanei from the Iranian Shite Rafidites, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Aal Sheikh from the orthodox Sunni Salafists in its roll of honour.

500 most influential Muslims -2010 is the second of an annual series that provides a window into the movers and shakers of the Muslim world.

6 10, 2010

York University

October 6th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish keynote speaker at York’s annual Inclusion Day

TORONTO, Oct. 4, 2010 − Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, the Palestinian doctor who continued to advocate for Middle East peace after the deaths of three of his daughters and niece by Israeli tank shells during an incursion into Gaza, will be the keynote speaker at York University’s annual Inclusion Day − Dialoguing Across Differences.An important figure in Israeli-Palestinian relations for years, Dr. Abuelaish has received many awards including the 2010 Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award of Canada.

Born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, Abuelaish went on to become a gynecologist and obstetrician, and treated both Israeli and Palestinian patients in Israeli hospitals.

At the time of his daughters’ deaths in January, 2009, he was living in Gaza and working as a senior researcher at the Gertner Institute at the Sheba Hospital in Tel Aviv. He is currently an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

Before the loss of his daughters, and since then, Abuelaish’s commitment to health as a means to save lives, promote respect and human dignity and achieve societal peace has made him an eloquent proponent of coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis.

“If I knew my daughters were the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis, then I would accept their loss,” Abuelaish has said. He is in the process of establishing the Daughters for Life Foundation in memory of his three beloved daughters, Bessan, Mayar and Aya, to promote health and education for girls and women in the Middle East.

Abuelaish, author of I Shall Not Hate: The Gaza Doctor’s Journey (Random House Canada, 2010), will speak to members of the York community and the public at 6pm on Wednesday, Oct. 6 about how he still yearns for peace and how, despite his terrible loss, there is no hate in his heart.

Inclusion Day at York will also include discussions, presentations and workshops about differences, including topics of race and racialization, gender expression and expectations, (dis)abilities, sexual orientation and classroom diversity. For more information and a full schedule of events, visit the Centre for Human Rights website or click here.

  • WHAT: Palestinian Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish speaking at York U Inclusion Day
  • WHEN:             Wed. Oct. 6, keynote address 6pm, book signing 7:30pm
  • WHERE: Price Family Cinema, Accolade East Building, room 102, Keele campus
  • TICKETS: Admission free. Register here.
  • MAP: Building 92 on Keele campus map

About Dr. Abuelaish:
In addition to receiving the 2010 Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award of Canada, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish has been honored with the following awards: the 2009 Stavros Niarchos Prize for Survivorship, the 2009 Search for Common Ground Award, the 2009 Middle East Institute Award, and the 2010 Uncommon Courage Award, from the Centre for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding at Queens College, NY. He was one of three finalists for the 2009 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, the European Parliament’s award for human rights and democracy campaigners. He was also chosen as one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in both 2009 and 2010 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Jordan.

He has addressed leading governmental bodies around the world including the European Parliament, the American Congress and Canada’s House of Commons, as well as many academic institutions in Canada, the US and Europe. His story has been carried by CNN, Aljazeera International, BBC, CBC, ABC and other print and electronic media around the world.


York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada’s most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 200,000 alumni worldwide. York’s 10 Faculties and 28 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.

Media Contact:
Janice Walls, Media Relations, York University, 416 736 2100 x22101 /

6 10, 2010

New Statesman

October 6th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

Earlier this year, Warsi was named one of the world’s “500 Most Influential Muslims” by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, a prestigious Middle East think tank based in Amman. Last year, she was named the UK’s most important Muslim woman in the Muslim Women Power List.

28 09, 2010

Maldives a 99.41 percent Muslim country, claims RISSC report

September 28th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

The Royal Islamic Strategic Research Centre (RISSC)’s report into the global state of Islam has described the Maldives as a 99.41 percent Muslim country.

RISSC is an independent research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, an international Islamic non-governmental institute headquartered in the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The calculation is a collation of research by Dr Houssain Kettani – who identifies the Maldives as a 100 per-cent Muslim nation – and the Pew Research Center, a Washington-based nonpartisan research body claiming to “promote a deeper understanding of issues at the intersection of religion and public affairs.”

The PEW Research Centre’s Forum on Religion estimates that of the Maldives population of 395,921, 389,586 are Muslims, equating to 98.4 percent or a non-Muslim population of 6335.  The RISSC report averages the two figures and arrives at 99.41 percent, or a non Muslim population of 2335.

State Islamic Minister Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, described in the RISSC report as one of the world’s top 500 influential Muslims ‘administrative’ category, said according to the constitution of the Maldives the country was a 100 percent Muslim nation.

”The world should know the appropriate information about Maldives before publishing documents about Maldives. Everything in the Maldives is conducted in accordance with the constitution,” Shaheem said.

According to the Maldivian constitution all citizens are required to be Muslim, and the country is always described as a “100 percent” Muslim country.

In late May, famous religious scholar Dr Zakir Naik visited the Maldives and delivered a sermon in the capital Male’. During a question-and-answer session 37 year-old Mohamed Nazim stood up and declared himself “Maldivian and not a Muslim”, to which Dr Naik replied: “So 100 per-cent minus one.”

Nazim’s declaration angered the 11,000 strong crowd, and he was escorted from the venue by police and officials from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs amid calls for his execution.

After two days of religious counselling in police custody, Nazim appeared before television cameras at an Islamic Ministry press conference and gave Shahada – the Muslim testimony of belief – and apologised for causing “agony for the Maldivian people” and requested that the community accept him back into society.

Police submitted his case to the Prosecutor General’s office earlier this week, which is currently deciding whether to take the former apostate to the Criminal Court.

In July, 25 year-old air traffic controller Ismail Mohamed Didi was found hanged from the control tower of Male’ International Airport in an apparent suicide, after seeking asylum in the UK for fear of persecution over his stated lack of religious belief.

“Maldivians are proud of their religious homogeneity and I am learning the hard way that there is no place for non-Muslim Maldivians in this society,” Didi wrote in a letter to an international humanitarian organisation, dated June 23.

Maldives in RISSC’s top 500

Alongside Sheikh Shaheem, President Mohamed Nasheed features in RISSC’s list of most influential Muslims “for being one of the most environmentally conscious state leaders in the world.”

“In the earliest stages of his political career, Nasheed was imprisoned for his crticism of his country’s government and became an Amnesty Prisoner of Conscience,’’ said RISSC. ‘’Today, Nasheed has [pledged] to make the Maldives carbon-neutral within a decade by moving the country’s energy reliance to wind and solar power only.’’

Dr Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, who visited the Maldives in May to deliver a sermon at the invitation of local NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf, was listed under ‘Media’.

RISSC described Philips as “a notable convert and Islamic scholar, Philips is founder of the virtual educational institution Islamic Online University and Discover Islam, an Islamic center based in Dubai.”

The report added that “In May 2010, Philips was the subject of a letter-writing campaign in the Maldives which condemned his preaching as a promotion of religious extremism. He was subsequently banned from entering the United Kingdom.”

Dr Naik, was also listed in the top 500 under ‘Preachers’. RISSC describes him as “an Indian public intellectual teaching about Islam. He hosts huge public events where he speaks on Islam, highlighting misconceptions and promoting understanding about the faith.”

RISSC also noted that in June 2010, “Dr Naik was banned from entering the United Kingdom due to ‘unacceptable behavour’. His public statements on terrorism and Osama bin Laden have contributed to his reputation as a controversial televangelist.”

His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, tops the list of most influential Muslims.


21 08, 2010

Australia Network News

August 21st, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

A new list of the 500 most influential Muslim people has put Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ahead of the Indonesian presdient Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The list also features scholars, scientists, women’s advocates, and some radical figures from the Muslim world. 

In its second year, there’s no change at the top of the list of 500 most influential Muslims, with King Abdullah of Saudia Arabia still at number one. 

Turkey’s prime minister Tayyip Erdogan has moved up to second place, but the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran has slipped to number three. 

He’s six places ahead of Indonesia’s Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at number 9. 

Then at 18, there’s Hasan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah. Usra Ghazi compiled the list for Jordan’s Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre. 

The list also includes the ASEAN head, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, and Dr Farhat Hashmi of the NGO Al-Huda International, and the Australian scholar Waleed Aly.

20 08, 2010

The Independent – Abdul Hakim Winter

August 20th, 2010|The 500 Most Influential Muslims - 2010|

Timothy Winter: Britain’s most influential Muslim – and it was all down to a peach–and-it-was-all-down-to-a-peach-2057400.html

The theologian is considered more significant within Islam than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He tells Tom Peck why he converted

Friday, 20 August 2010

It was the sight of peach juice dripping from the chin of a teenage French female nudist that led a Cambridgeshire public schoolboy to convert to Islam. Thirty-five years later, Timothy Winter – or Sheikh Abdul-Hakim Murad, as he is known to his colleagues – has been named one of the world’s most influential Muslims.

The hitherto unnoticed Mr Winter, who has an office in Cambridge University’s Divinity Faculty, where he is the Shaykh Zayed Lecturer of Islamic Studies, has been listed ahead of the presidents of Iran and Egypt, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, and the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Mahmoud Abbas. “Strange bedfellows,” he concedes.

Tall, bookish, fair-skinned and flaxen-haired, a wiry beard is his only obvious stylistic concession to the Islamic faith.

To the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISSC), which is based at the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in the Jordanian capital, Amman, Winter is “one of the most well-respected Western theologians” and “his accomplishments place him amongst the most significant Muslims in the world”. Winter is also the secretary of the Muslim Academic Trust, director of The Anglo-Muslim Fellowship for Eastern Europe, and director of the Sunna Project, which has published the most respected versions of the major Sunni Hadith collections, the most important texts in Islam after the Qur’an.

He has also written extensively on the origins of suicidal terrorism.

According to the RISSC, the list highlights “leaders and change-agents who have shaped social development and global movements”. Winter is included because “[his] work impacts all fields of work and particularly, the religious endeavors of the Muslim world”.

In the 500 Most Influential Muslims 2010, Mr Winter is below the King of Saudi Arabia – who comes in at number one – but ahead of many more chronicled figures. He is ranked in an unspecified position between 51st and 60th, considerably higher than the three other British people who make the list – the Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi; the UK’s first Muslim life peer, Lord Nazir Ahmed, who was briefly jailed last year for dangerous driving; and Dr Anas Al Shaikh Ali, director of the

International Institute of Islamic Thought – making him, at least in the eyes of the RISSC, Britain’s most influential Muslim.

“I think that’s very unlikely,” says Winter, seated in front of his crowded bookshelves. “I’m an academic

observer who descends occcasionally from my ivory tower and visits the real world. If you stop most people in the street they’ve never heard of me. In terms of saying anything that makes any kind of sense to the average British Muslim I think they have no need of my ideas at all.”

The son of an architect and an artist, he attended the elite Westminster School in the 1970s before graduating from Cambridge with a double first in Arabic in 1983. His younger brother is the football correspondent Henry Winter. Tim says: “I was always the clever, successful one. Henry just wanted to play football with his mates. I used to tell him, ‘I’m going to make loads of money, and you’ll still be playing football with your mates.’ Now he’s living in a house with 10 bedrooms and married to a Bond girl.” (Brother Henry insists on the telephone later: “She was only in the opening credits. And it’s not as many as 10.”)

If this seems an improbable background for a leading Muslim academic, his Damascene moment on a Corsican beach is unlikelier still.

“In my teens I was sent off by my parents to a cottage in Corsica on an exchange with a very vigorous French Jewish family with four daughters,” Winter recalls. “They turned out to be enthusiastic nudists.

“I remember being on the beach and seeing conjured up before my adolescent eyes every 15-year-old boy’s most fervent fantasy. There was a moment when I saw peach juice running off the chin of one of these bathing beauties and I had a moment of realisation: the world is not just the consequence of material forces. Beauty is not something that can be explained away just as an aspect of brain function.”

It had quite an effect on him: “That was the first time I became remotely interested in anything beyond the material world. It was an unpromising beginning, you might say.

“In a Christian context, sexuality is traditionally seen as a consequence of the Fall, but for Muslims, it is an anticipation of paradise. So I can say, I think, that I was validly converted to Islam by a teenage French Jewish nudist.”

After graduating, Winter studied at the University of al-Azhar in Egypt and worked in Jeddahat before returned to England in the late eighties to study Turkish and Persian. He says he has no difficulty reconciling the world he grew up in with the one he now inhabits. “Despite all the stereotypes of Islam being the paradigmatic opposite to life in the west, the feeling of conversion is not that one has migrated but that one has come home.

“I feel that I more authentically inhabit my old identity now that I operate within Islamic boundaries than I did when I was part of a teenage generation growing up in the 70s who were told there shouldn’t be any boundaries.”

The challenge, he feels, is much harder now for young Muslims trying to integrate with British life.

“Your average British Asian Muslim on the streets of Bradford or Small Heath in Birmingham is told he has to integrate more fully with the society around him. The society he tends to see around him is extreme spectacles of binge drinking on Saturday nights, scratchcards, and other forms of addiction apparently rampant, credit card debt crushing lives, collapsing relationships and mushrooming proportions of single lives, a drug epidemic. It doesn’t look very nice.

“That is why one of the largest issues over the next 50 years is whether these new Muslim communities can be mobilised to deal with those issues. Islam is tailor-made precisely for all those social prolems. It is the ultimate cold turkey. You don’t drink at all. You don’t sleep around. You don’t do scratchcards. Or whether a kind of increasing polarisation, whereby Muslims look at the degenerating society around them and decide ‘You can keep it’.”

It is not this, though, that contributes to some young Muslim British men’s radicalism, he says, since their numbers are often made up of “the more integrated sections”.

“The principle reason, which Whitehall cannot admit, is that people are incensed by foreign policy. Iraq is a smoking ruin in the Iranian orbit. Those who are from a Muslim background are disgusted by the hypocrisy. It was never about WMD. It was about oil, about Israel and evangelical christianity in the White House. That makes people incandescent with anger. What is required first of all is an act of public contrition. Tony Blair must go down on his knees and admit he has been responsible for almost unimaginable human suffering and despair.”

He adds: “The West must realise it must stop being the world’s police. Why is there no Islamic represenation on the UN Security Council? Why does the so-called Quartet [on the Middle East] not have a Muslim representative? The American GI in his goggles driving his landrover through Kabul pointing his gun at everything that moves, that is the image that enrages people.”

Is there a similar antagonistic symbolism in the construction of a mosque at Ground Zero?

“If the mosque represented an invading power they would have every right. Muslims in America are there as legitimate citizens with their green cards, with jobs, trying to get by. They are there in humble mode.

“Would you oppose the construction of Shinto Shrines at Pearl Harbour, of which there a number? How long must the Muslims of lower Manhattan have to wait to get a place to pray five times a day? With Islam there are certain liturgical requirements. It’s not like a church that you can build on the top of a hill and say, we’ve only got to go once a week and it looks nice up there. Muslims need to pray five times a day, they can’t get the subway out and back. It should be seen as a symbol of reconciliation not antagonism.”

Last year Winter helped set up the Cambridge Muslim College, which offers trained imams a one year diploma in Islamic studies and leadership, designed to help trained imams to better implement their knowledge and training in 21st-century Britain. This year’s first graduating class have recently returned from a trip to Rome where they had an open audience with the Pope.

In an increasingly secular Britain, sociologists suggest with regularity that “football is the new religion”. Winter understands the comparison. “Football has everything that is important to religion,” he says. “Solidarity, skill, ritual, the outward form of what looks like a sacred congregation. Except it’s not about anything.” Just don’t tell his brother.

Converts to Islam

Muhammad Ali

Cassius Clay, widely considered to be one of the greatest boxers, shocked America when he revealed in 1964 that he had converted to the Nation of Islam (becoming a Sunni 11 years later) to discard the name of his ancestors’ enslavement.

Yusuf Islam

Born Steven Demetre Georgiou in London, the singer, best known as Cat Stevens, converted to Islam at the height of his fame in 1977. Two years later he auctioned all his guitars for charity and left his music career to devote himself to educational and philanthropic causes.

Yvonne Ridley

The British journalist was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan in September 2001 having crossed the border anonymously in a burqa. After her release 11 days later, she explained that she had promised one of her captors that she would read the Koran and it changed her life. She converted to Islam in the summer of 2003.

Alexander Litvinenko

The ex-Russian agent, who fled to London, fell ill in November 2006 after being poisoned by radioactive polonium-210. Two days before his death on 23 November he told his father he had converted to Islam.

18 12, 2009

Ten Indians among 500 most influential Muslims in the world: Georgetown University List

December 18th, 2009|The 500 Most Influencial Muslims - 2009|

The list of 500 most influential Muslims in the world had hit headlines in India due to the names of some celebrities. Though such lists shouldn’t be taken too seriously, still, they do evoke interest.

Many of these influential persons include monarchs and sheikhs of middle-east apart from heads of religious organisations and sects. Some of them haven’t made much impact on public consciousness across the globe but have influence in their own countries and territories.

However, like most lists that draw criticism and commendation at the same time, the Georgetown University’s selection comprises a number of Muslim scholars, professionals, thinkers, doctors, experts in various fields et al.

Importantly, the highest number of Muslims included in the list are from United States of Ameria [71] followed by Britain [32]. The countries together make for over 100 personalities. And this is the positive aspect of the listing. The rankings are only for the top 50.

Of the 10 Indians in the list the head of the Dawoodi Bohra communit Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, former President Abdul Kalam, Islamic scholar Wahiduddin Khan and preacher Zakir Naik are the notable ones.

The names of Shahrukh Khan and AR Rahman, who have also been included in the list, were splashed in papers because of their celebrity status. Others are Maulana Mahmood Madani, Asghar Ali Engineer, Syed Ameen Miyan Qadri and Ahmad Sheikh Abu Bakr.

There are 16 persons from Pakistan including Abdus Sattar Eidhi. Even Bilawal Zardari has found a place. The list has Muslims from almost every country ranging from Canada to New Zealand.

Countries that make up for most personalities in the list inlude Iran 25, Saudi Arabia 24, Egypt 23, Turkey 20, Indonesia 15, South Africa 12, Morocco 11, Iraq 11, Jordan 10, Lebanon 10, Palestine 10 and France 5. Rest of the countries have less than five persons each in the list.

There are biographies of the personalities making it to the top 50. All the 500 persons have been categorised as scholarly, administrative, political, preachers, women, lineage, youth, philanthropy, art & culture, media and even radicals.

There are around 45 women. Though one can name many other individuals that have greater impact, the 2009 edition of the list, which is the first, and would become an annual feature, seems to be an interesting exercise.

Read the entire list here. The photos add to its attraction.
Urdu Muslim India Islam Poetry Religion Hindu Shairi Ghalib Literature Ada Lucknow Meer Faiz Indian Muslim Blog Cricket Ghazal Blogger Islamic Hindi Kavita Shayar Sahitya


18 12, 2009

Grand Mufti makes the top ten

December 18th, 2009|The 500 Most Influencial Muslims - 2009|

South Africa punches above its weight in the 500 most influential Muslims in the world.

JOHANNESBURG – The list of top 500 most influential Muslims has just hit our shores. South Africa has a couple in the list, while Africa makes a good showing. The infamous Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden didn’t even make the top 50 though.

The list stops counting at 50. It’s probably too hard to discern between the guy at position 456 and position 457. Looking at the top 50, South Africa doesn’t feature, but Africa takes positions three and ten.

To break into the top 500, a Muslim has to be in the top 0.00003% most influential muslims worldwide. South Africa has 2.4% of that select group. We’re batting above our weight category as SA only has 0.048% of the world’s Muslims.

South Africa manages to get 12 of the 500. They are:

Hashim Amla
In 2004 he became the first South African cricket team player of Indian descent

Zain Bhika
South African singer-songwriter and pioneer performer of nasheed songs

Zeinoul Abedien Cajee
CEO of the National Awqaf Foundation of South Africa

Prof Farid Esack
Professor at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. After the end of apartheid rule in South Africa Nelson Mandela appointed him to the position of Gender Equity Commissioner

Ferial Haffajee
Haffajee is editor of the ‘Mail and Guardian’

Maulana Igshaan Hendricks
President of the Muslim Judicial Council of Cape Town

Sheikh Seraj Hendricks
The Mufti of Cape Town. One of the highest authorities on Islamic scholarship in South Africa

Naeem Jeenah
He is a progressive Muslim activist and an international solidarity activist currently working with the Freedom of Expression Institute in Johannesburg

Professor Ebrahim Moosa
Political writer for the Cape Times

Shafiq Morton
Award-winning journalist, photographer and presenter of the current affairs programme ‘Drivertime Show’ on the Muslim radio station Voice of the Cape

Ebrahim Patel
Current minister for economic development of South Africa and a former spokesperson for Cosatu

Dr Imtiaz Ismail Sooliman
Founder of the Gift of the Givers Foundation. It is the largest disaster relief organisation of African origin on the African continent

Osama bin Laden, leader of Al Qaeda, is just a name on the list under the “Radicals” section. He doesn’t make the top 50.

He is described in the list as “the son of a wealthy Saudi businessman. The leader of Al Qaeda, he is considered the most wanted man internationally for several terrorist attacks-the largest of which were the September 11 attacks in New York City, that resulted in the deaths of 3 000 civilians.”

The Leader of Hamas Khaled Mashaal, however, is rated 34th, so more influential/important than Bin Laden.

For those wondering, a Mufti is the highest official of religious law in a Sunni Muslim country.

Table 1: The top 20 most influential Muslims in the world.

1. His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques

2. His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Hajj Sayyid Ali Khamenei,
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran

3. His Majesty King Mohammed VI, King of Morocco

4. His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein, King of the
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

5. His Excellency Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey

6. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id al Sa’id, Sultan of Oman

7. His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hussein Sistani, Marja of the Hawza, Najaf

8. His Eminence Sheikh Al Azhar Dr Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, Grand Sheikh of the Al Azhar University, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Mosque

9. Sheikh Dr Yusuf Qaradawi, Head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars

10. His Eminence Sheikh Dr Ali Goma’a, Grand Mufti of the Arab Republic of Egypt

11. His Eminence Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ibn Abdullah Aal al Sheikh, Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

12. Mohammad Mahdi Akef, Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood

13. Hodjaefendi Fethullah Güllen, Turkish Muslim preacher

14. Amr Khaled, preacher and social activist

15. Hajji Mohammed Abd al Wahhab, Ameer of the Tablighi Jamaat, Pakistan

16. His Royal Eminence Amirul Mu’minin Sheikh as Sultan Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar III, Sultan of Sokoto

17. Seyyed Hasan Nasrallah, secretary general of Hezbollah

18. Dr KH Achmad Hasyim Muzadi, chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia

19. Sheikh Salman al Ouda, Saudi scholar and educator

20. His Highness Shah Karim al Hussayni, The Aga Khan IV, 49th Imam of the Ismaili Muslims


17 12, 2009

Two locals named among most influential Muslims

December 17th, 2009|The 500 Most Influencial Muslims - 2009|

A retired University of Waterloo professor emeritus and a Kitchener native have been named among the 500 most influential Muslims in the world.

The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, based in Amman, Jordan, last month listed Mohamed Elmasry and Ingrid Mattson among our planet’s most influential Muslims.

Mattson, a Kitchener native who became a Muslim in 1987, is president of the Islamic Society of North America — the largest organization serving Muslims the United States and Canada.

She is also a professor of Islamic studies at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Conn.

Mattson is listed among the most influential Muslim women for her work as an academic and chaplain as well as for being the first woman, and first convert to Islam, to serve as the North American group’s president.

“I am humbled and embarrassed,” Mattson wrote in a recent email after returning from the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

“I know that there are many, many Muslims across the world who are extraordinarily more courageous and exemplary as they serve their communities — especially Muslim women in Afghanistan, Thailand, China, Iraq, etc.  

“Many people might not know their names, but God certainly knows what they are doing and they inspire me.”

Elmasry, a longtime professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at the University of Waterloo, was included for his work as a scholar and as the founder and former president of the Kitchener-based Canadian Islamic Congress.

“It is an honour to be selected . . . I always love what I do, hoping that I can make a difference,” Elmasry wrote in an email to The Record. “Now I am still an active researcher and involved in alternative media as one of the founding editors of the (online) e-weekly The Canadian Charger.”

He is listed among four Canadian Muslims who are scholars in various fields.

John Esposito, a prominent scholar of Islamic studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., served as one of the chief editors of the compilation.

Statements on The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre websites say it’s an independent non-governmental research institute working to “protect, preserve and propagate traditional, orthodox, ‘moderate’ Islam.”

It’s the first time the centre has compiled the list. For the complete list of 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World, visit the centre’s websiteat


14 12, 2009

The 500 most influential Muslims of the world?

December 14th, 2009|The 500 Most Influencial Muslims - 2009|

The Amman, Jordan-based Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in collaboration with the Prince Alwaleed BinTalal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the Georgetown University, Washington DC, has issued a list of 500 most influential Muslims in the world.

The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre is an off shoot of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought which launched the Amman Message in November 2004 in a bid to reach a broad definition of who is a Muslim. The Amman Message, unanimously approved by Muslim scholars, attempted to describe what Islam is and what it is not, and what actions represent Islam and what actions do not?

To reach a precise definition of who is a Muslim, the Amman Message recognized the validity of all 8 Mathhabs (legal schools) of Sunni, Shi’a and Ibadhi Islam; of traditional Islamic Theology (Ash’arism); of Islamic Mysticism (Sufism), and of ‘true’ Salafi thought. Based upon this definition it forbade takfir (declarations of apostasy) between Muslims. The Amman Message also set forth the subjective and objective preconditions for the issuing of fatwas (Islamic rulings), thereby restricting ‘ignorant and illegitimate edicts in the name of Islam.’

The 500 Most Influential Muslims is an extension of the Amman Message. The Editors of the list have not given any criteria for choosing an influential personality but the list unveils a pattern and agenda behind the selection.

“The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World” is the title of the 202 pages book that contains the names and introduction of these personalities. The list is Edited and Prepared by Ed Marques and Usra Ghazi. Prof John Esposito and Prof Ibrahim Kalin served as the Chief Editors of the project.

The first chapter of the book sets the tone of the enterprise. The introduction of Islam is taken from the writings of the Italian Muslim scholar, Vincenzo Olivetti, the author of a controversial book: Terror’s Source: The Ideology of Salafism and Its Consequences.

Echoing the Rand Corporation’s arbitrary division of 1.5 billion Muslims into four categories (Fundamentalists, Traditionalists, Modernists and Secularists), the authors divided Muslims into three broad ideological categories i.e. Traditionalists, Moderates and Fundamentalist. Not only that, they also provided a specific percentage of the Muslims belonging to each category. According to the authors, 96% Muslims are Traditionalists, one percent Moderates and three percent Fundamentalists. No source is given for this important and specific data.

The authors describe the Traditional or orthodox Islam, to which 96% Muslims belong, as non-politicized Islam, largely based on consensus of “correct opinion.” The Traditionalist Muslims include the adherents of all the Sunni and Shi‘a sects as well as the Ibadi sect. The followers of Islamic mysticism (Sufism) or mystic brotherhoods are also included in this category.

The Islamic Fundamentalism, to which three percent Muslims adhere, has been described as “highly politicized religious ideology popularized in the 20th century through movements within both the Shi‘a and Sunni branches of Islam—characterized by aggressiveness and a reformist attitude toward traditional Islam.” The authors include in this category the followers of the Muslim Brotherhood or Al Ikhwan Al Muslimeen, Wahabis or Salafis as well as the adherents of the “revolutionary Shi’a ideology” of the late Imam Khomeini of Iran.

Islamic modernism is described as a reform movement that started in the 19th century by politically-minded western-educated Muslims who had “scant knowledge of traditional Islam.” They blamed the technological weakness of the Muslim world on the ‘traditional Islam’ and called for a complete overhaul of Islam, particularly the Islamic law (sharia) and doctrine (aqida).

After setting in the broad outlines of the project the authors divided the 500 personalities into 15 categories: Scholarly, Political, Administrative, Lineage, Preachers, Women, Youth, Philanthropy, Development, Science and Technology, Arts and Culture, Media, Radicals, International Islamic Networks and Issues of the Day.

Let us analyze the first 50 most influential Muslims which are profiled in detail in the list that includes Muslim rulers, two elected leaders, sect leaders, scholars, well-known Muslim religious leaders (Ulema) as well as a lay preacher.

A glance of the list indicates that the authors have political considerations in mind. The first two choices are telling and confirm beyond any doubt this argument. King Abdullah Ben Abdul Aziz tops the list while Grand Ayatollah Hajj Sayyid Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran is named as the second top Muslim leader. In this way both top Sunni and Shia political leadership has been accommodated.

At the same time the five other autocratic Muslim rulers are included: King Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein of Jordan, Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id of Oman, Emir Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei and Sultan Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar III of Sokoto.

Only two elected Muslim leaders are included in the list: President Abdullah Gül of Turkey and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

Surprisingly, two Generals also found place in the list: General Mohammad Ali Jafari, Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

The three Shia sect leaders included are: Imam Mohammad bin Mohammad al Mansour, Imam of the Zaidis; Prince Karim Aga Khan, the 49th Imam of the Ismailis and Dr Syedna Mohammad Burhannuddin, 52nd Imam of Bohras. The list also names the prominent Shia leader Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hussein Sistani, Marja of the Hawza, Najaf.

The Barelvi and Sufi leaders: Sheikha Munira Qubeysi, Leader of the Qubeysi Movement of Syria; Sheikh Ahmad Tijani Ali Cisse, Leader of Tijaniyya Sufi Order of West Africa; Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi al Haqqani, Leader of Naqshbandi-Haqqani Sufi Order of Cyprus; Abdullah ‘Aa Gym’ Gymnastiar, Indonesian Naqshbandi Preacher and Professor Sayid Ameen Mian Qaudri, Barelwi Leader and Spiritual Guide of India.

Sunni religious leaders: Sheikh Al Azhar Dr Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, Grand Sheikh of the Al Azhar University; Mohammad Mahdi Akef, Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood; Dr Yusuf Qaradawi, Head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars and Hajji Mohammed Abd al Wahhab, Ameer of the Tablighi Jamaat, Pakistan.

Grand Muftis: Sheikh Dr Ali Goma’a, Grand Mufti of Egypt; Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ibn Abdullah Aal al Sheikh, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia and Sheikh Professor Dr Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Political parties leaders: Seyyed Hasan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah (Lebanon); Khaled Mashaal, Leader of Hamas (occupied Gaza); Dr Achmad Hasyim Muzadi, Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest socio-religious party Indonesia; Dr M Din Syamsuddin, Chairman of Muhammadiyya, the second largest socio-religious party of Indonesia; Dato’ Haji Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, Religious Guide of the Islamic Party of Malaysia; Maulana Mahmood Madani, Secretary General of Jamiat Ulemae-Hind, India and Motiur Rahman Nizami, Ameer of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh.

Muslim scholars: Sheikh Salman al Ouda of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Dr M Sa’id Ramadan al Bouti of Syria; Sheikh Mohammad Ali al Sabouni of Syria, Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad al Tayeb, President of Al Azhar University Cairo; Pakistan’s Justice Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani, deputy chairman of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy of the Organization of the Islamic Conference; Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, Deputy-Head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars of Qadrawi; Dr Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islamic Studies professor at George Washington University, USA and Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson, Founder of Zaytuna Institute, California, USA.

Moderate religious leader/preacher: US-based Hodjaefendi Fethullah Güllen, Turkish Muslim Preacher. London-based Amr Khaled is enlisted as a lay Preacher and Social Activist. Interestingly, once British cabinet secretary and one of Tony Blair’s closest aides Sir Andrew Turnbull, intended to seek Amr Khaled’s aid in furthering the British government’s agenda regarding Muslims.

Abdul Qader Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program finds a place in the first top 50 personalities. However, in introducing Abdul Qader Khan, the authors have unwittingly borrowed western terminology to describe Pakistan’s nuclear bomb as “Islamic Bomb.” We never hear “Jewish Bomb” for the Israeli nuclear bomb, “Hindu Bomb” for the Indian nuclear bomb, “Confucius Bomb” for the Chinese and “Christian Bomb” for the nuclear bombs of France, Russia, U.K and USA.

The list of the so-called ‘Radical Muslims’ is surprising. It includes Osama Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al Zawahiri. If Osama Bin Laden is considered as one of the most influential personality then probably he should top the list because of a wide-spread impact of his personality on the Muslim world. Ironically Osama’s half brother, Bakr bin Laden, is honored in the category of Development. Bakr is the chairman of the Saudi Binladin Group, a sizable multinational construction company with operations in Saudi Arabia and over 30 countries — making him an increasingly influential power broker in Saudi business capital.

Among the Muslim political leaders is President Hamid Karzai, who was recently re-elected in a controversial election and whose writ does not extend beyond his presidential palace. Pakistan Army’s Chief of Staff, General Ashfaq Kayani is named as the most influential figure, although now Pakistan has a democratic setup with an elected president and prime minister.

The seven-million strong American Muslim community is delighted to see the names of 71 American Muslims in the list while one of them, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson, the founder of California-based Zaytuna Institute, is listed in the first 50 most influential Muslims. Many are astonished with this choice since Keith Ellison, the first American Muslim Congressman or President of the Islamic Society of Northern America (ISNA), Ingrid Mattson, are probably the most popular and influential in the American Muslim community. Congressman Keith Ellison is accommodated in the list of political leaders and also listed in the ‘list of Honorable Mentions.’

The officials of three major Muslim civil rights groups – Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) are included in the list while other major civil rights groups such as American Muslim Alliance (AMA), American Muslim Voice (AMV), Muslim American Society (MAS) and the United Muslims of America (UMA) have been ignored.

The United Muslims of America (UMA) is one of the oldest American Muslim organizations, established in 1982. One of its founding President, Dr. Islam Siddiqui, was appointed by President Clinton as Assistant Secretary of Agriculture and President Obama has appointed him as the Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the US Trade Representative. Ironically in the list of political leaders there are only two entries i.e. Congressman Keith Ellison and Rashad Hussain, who is appointed as the Deputy Associate Counsel to the president by President Barrack Obama.

The American Muslim Alliance (AMA) was established in 1992 with a mission to encourage Muslim participation in political parties and the electoral process. In the 2000 elections the AMA President, Dr. Agha Saeed, played a key role in a bloc Muslim vote to the Republican Party presidential candidate, George Bush. Dr. Saeed is also the Chairman of the American Muslim Taskforce, an umbrella organization comprising 12 major American Muslim civil advocacy groups.

The American Muslim Voice (AMV), headed by Samina Faheem Sundas, is relatively new civil rights/peace group but its grassroots is widely recognized by mainstream civil rights and interfaith and peace groups. The AMV along with over thirty diverse peace partners organized sponsored a vigil and iftar (fast breaking) outside the White House on September 11, 2009, on the 8th anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks. This was the first time that any American Muslim group organized such a vigil in Washington DC.

The Muslim American Society (MAS), launched in 1992, is another major American Muslim civil rights group currently led by Mahdi Bray who once served as a liaison with President Bush’s White House Faith-Based Initiative Program. Bray is a National Co-convener of Religions for Peace – USA. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Alliance and the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice.

The authors of the book have used an arbitrary figure (without giving any source of information) of 4.5 million for the American Muslims while according to a CAIR study of 2000 the American Muslim population is estimated between six and seven million. Based in part on that report, most media organizations, as well as the White House and the State Department, have said that there are at least 6 million Muslims in the country. However, the PEW Research Center’s one million dollar agenda-driven survey of American Muslims in 2007 said that the population of the American Muslim community is no more than 2.35 million. Tellingly the PEW figure is closer to the estimates announced by the American Jewish Committee in October 2001. The AJC study – titled Estimating the Muslim Population in the United States – claimed that the best estimate of Muslims in the United States is 2.8 million at most. The 2007 PEW survey, just like the AJC report, was another desperate attempt to discount the role and undercut the influence of American Muslims. For more about the issue of American Muslim demography, please read: Hidden agenda of PEW Center’s million dollar survey of American Muslims

The famous Roman Consul Lucius Cassius Longinus Ravilla, whom the Roman people used to regard as a very honest and wise judge, was in the habit of asking, time and again, Cui bono – To whose benefits? Let the maxim of Cassius apply to the list of the 500 Most Influential Muslims of the World.

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Executive Editor of the online magazine the American Muslim Perspective: email:


14 12, 2009

“I’m a proud Indian first” – Shahrukh Khan

December 14th, 2009|The 500 Most Influencial Muslims - 2009|

Georgetown University in USA has come out with a list of 500 of the world’s most influential Muslims, including Shahrukh Khan, former Indian President A P J Abdul Kalam, and composer A R Rahman. A chat with SRK on how he feels about being in that list:

Buzz up!
How do you feel on being the only one from the entertainment world being selected in the top 500 besides A R Rahman?
I don’t think a list of this nature is of a competitive type to feel proud about. It’s not about a list of awards that I have won. I am a Muslim by birth and because of the kind of cinema I do, I assume must be influencing lives of people across the world. I have been actively working in the film industry for 18 years and my work has gone across the world, my films and done well in many places including Germany, Poland, Dubai, USA, Morocco and South East Asia. People know me well because of my films but I never felt that I was different. I’m in the field of mass communication and am doing my work. That’s it.

Why do you feel you were chosen?
I think it could be because of the kind of films I do. I try to do films that have variety and are about goodness and hope. They give a direction to a life. I have done films on romances to patriotic dramas like Chak De! and funny entertainers like Om Shanti Om — films that try to give a kind of positive message to people. I hope in this I am able to influence the lives of many, especially youngsters and children. It’s about giving some kind of direction to their lives. Like I might tell my children to study hard or teach them how to lead a good life.

What do you feel is your contribution as an educated liberal Muslim in the world today?
These are categories I am not comfortable with as I don’t think I have done much to justify the tags. Though I am very proud to be a Muslim and an educated and liberal one at that, I am immensely proud to be Indian. I have very strong views on religion and how people should behave but that’s about it. I just do my work. I truly believe your work defines you. I am not a social activist. I spend time with my family. At the most, I teach my kids to do namaaz and pray to Allah. Maybe I have given neat and clean hits which has given me money and fame but for me it’s been like a good regular job. I have chosen to do cinema which has a very positive impact and that’s what influences people and gets me the tags.

Your next film is My Name Is Khan. Do you feel it’s a more international film which should be seen by all and will have a far-reaching influence?
I have never been a strong advocate for global cinema because I don’t think our films turn the tide around though my directors and distributors feel otherwise. Having said that, I will add that MNIK is a very special topic about humanity in the garb of a Muslim character. The basic tenet of any religion — be it of Allah, God or Bhagwan — is that you have to be a good human being and Khan in MNIK is one. The way Karan has handled his love story in a dramatised form is amazing. It’s a love story where the character has to overcome obstacles in the path of love and that obstacle is the world view. How he overcomes that to win his love is what MNIK is about. The film is made on a large canvas and made larger with Fox coming on board. The subject material is adapted in terms of humanity in a very entertaining way. And with Karan, the best filmmaker in India today directing the film and Fox distributing it — the message of love, the way it has been shot internationally and the way of releasing it, might have all the possibilities of an international release. It’s going to be released in a way no Hindi film has been released internationally before with mega prints and the trailer releasing with Avatar in a first of its kind.

To you, who’s the most influential person in the world?
Like every movie star’s influence changes with every B-O release, I think even across the globe people’s influence changes. Today, there is not just one global influence but a collective of influences. I don’t believe the world can be run by one influential person right now. The world has become too intelligent to be demarcated by one person. It’s the good thoughts of many. Like Bill Gates, Mukesh Ambani, Obama are very influential and wonderful in their field of work but collectively, they are fantastic.

To you, what is true power or influence?
For me, in means to be able to affect people in a positive manner and bring a smile on their faces. It should be able to affect young minds in a good sense.


14 12, 2009

SRK among 500 most influential Muslims in the world

December 14th, 2009|The 500 Most Influencial Muslims - 2009|

Being one of the most successful stars in Bollywood brings with itself loads of accolades and awards. This time Shah Rukh Khan finds himself in the august company of former Indian President Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam and Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman. The trio have been included in the list of The 500 most influential Muslims in the world released by Georgetown University, USA.

The actor has been included in the ‘Arts and Culture’ segment of the list and has been lauded for ‘campaigning for better relations between India’s Muslim and Hindu communities’.


12 12, 2009

Kalam, Shah Rukh in most influential Muslims list

December 12th, 2009|The 500 Most Influencial Muslims - 2009|

NEW DELHI: In a first of its kind survey of the world’s most influential Muslims, Georgetown University has come out with a list of 500 among

whom are prominent Indians like former President A P J Abdul Kalam, Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan and music maestro A R Rahman.

What, however, has come as a surprise is the choice of an Urdu professor at Aligarh Muslim University for his propagation of moderate Sufi views in a region being blighted by jihadi terror.

Professor Sayid Ameen Mian Qaudri, ranked 44 on the list, is a “leader of a South Asian Sufi movement based in a volatile region where religion has been used as a platform for violence”, the editors said in their comment.

Another interesting selection is that of Maulana Mahmood Madani, leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and MP, who has campaigned against Islamic terror. “Madani has been outspoken in his opposition to the misuse of the term ‘jihad’ as a tool of terrorism in India,” the university said justifying the highest rank — 36 — given to him among his compatriots on the list.

Noted Islamic scholar Asghar Ali Engineer, leader of the progressive Dawoodi Bohra movement, finds space for his “take on Islam and contemporary issues”.

Another choice for the ‘scholarly’ category is spiritual leader Wahiduddin Khan, hailed by the volume as “Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world”. His approach, it is pointed out, is “popular among Indians, both Muslim and non-Muslim”.

Interestingly, the list, which features Osama bin Laden, Maulana Masood Azhar and Hafiz Mohammad Saeed among the ‘radicals’, has focused on the moderate faces of Islam from India. Zakir Abdul-Karim Naik is another such Islamic teacher included for promoting understanding about Islam.

Recalling Kalam’s role in India’s weaponisation programme as scientific adviser to the government, the editors said, “This moved India from being a state with nuclear technology to a state with nuclear weapons.”

An Indian who figures among influential media personalities is Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria. Selected from the US, Zakaria is acknowledged as one of America’s “foremost public intellectuals”.


11 12, 2009

AMU Professor ranked World’s 44th most influential Muslim

December 11th, 2009|The 500 Most Influencial Muslims - 2009|

Aligarh: Professor Saiyed Mohammad Ameen Mian Qadri of the Urdu Department at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has been ranked the 44th most influential Muslim in the world by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre of the Georgetown University, USA.

The Prince Al-Waheed Bin Talal Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University has published a new book entitled the 500 most influential Muslims in the World 2009. It has ranked the Professor as 44th most influential Muslim in the World.

Professor Qadri is a leader of the Indian Barelvis and a Sajjada Nasheen or Sufi disciple of the Khanquah-e-Barkatiya, Marehra sufi tradition which stems from the Qadriyyah tradition of eminent Sufi master Abd al Qadir al Jilani.

He is also the leader of a South Asian Sufi movement. It thrives as an active and socially engaged mystical movement. The Barelvis are an apolitical group that emphasizes social cohesion and spiritual upliftment.

He is patronizing a large number of institutions of modern and oriental tradition, has written several books on Urdu literature, and translated various books on mysticism.

Prof. Ameen is the founder of Albarkat Educational Institutions and under its aegis several institutions are run.


5 12, 2009

Azizah Publisher Chosen as ‘Influential Muslim’

December 5th, 2009|The 500 Most Influencial Muslims - 2009|

Tayyibah Taylor didn’t believe it when she learned that she was named as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims.

“It was a complete surprise, and it wasn’t anything I applied for,” said Taylor. She is the publisher of Azizah, a Muslim women’s magazine based in Atlanta.

Taylor was one of 72 U.S. Muslims listed in the new book, “The 500 Most Influential Muslims – 2009.″ The book was funded by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center, a think tank in Amman, Jordan, and co-edited by Georgetown University professors John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin.

“This is the first report of its kind that has been done. They didn’t notify me, there was no awards ceremony, no monetary prize, but of course being a part of such a great list is worth so much more,” Taylor said.

The report identifies 500 prominent Muslims in 15 fields, such as scholarship, politics, philanthropy, development, science and technology, arts and culture, and media.

Esposito, director of Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, said undertaking the project was important because it introduced people to Muslim leaders around the world. “There are more than the Muslims famous because they are heads of countries or are wealthy, but there are also Muslim writers, Nobel laureates, philanthropists,” he said.

Taylor said the report is a testament to the great contributions of Muslims, especially American Muslims. “Some people still have horrible images of Muslims,” she said, “but this is definitely a way to transform the stereotypical image.”

But Taylor also said that being recognized was a reflection of the magazine and the strength of Muslim women everywhere.

The perception in the Muslim world is that all Muslims in America experience discrimination, said Taylor. In the Western world, she said, people think all Muslim women are “oppressed and have no freedom.”

Azizah magazine is undoing these misconceptions.

“For centuries,” Taylor said, “the stereotype was that Muslim women were defined by Muslim men or a non-Muslim, but Azizah magazine gives the opportunity for the Muslim woman to define herself.”

Founded in 1999, with a current international circulation of 40,000, Azizah magazine was inspired by an international Muslim women’s conference Taylor attended in Chicago in 1992.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fantastic to encapsulate all of this power, experience in a magazine … a vehicle for our voices?’ People don’t know about the intellectual, spiritual and social contributions we have. I wanted to share this with the world,” she said.

The magazine’s content reflects the diverse experiences and strengths of Muslim women. “It isn’t just ‘how to find a husband,’” Taylor asserted.

Azizah magazine was the recipient of the 2009 New America Media ethnic media award for best reporting on environmental issues. The series, entitled “Color Me Green,” highlights environmental consciousness in Islam and environmental leadership by Muslim women.

According to Esposito, the report on influential Muslims will be released each year and include committees of researchers to ensure that key Muslim leaders from around the world are recognized for their work.


3 12, 2009

The 500 Most Influential Muslims 2009

December 3rd, 2009|The 500 Most Influencial Muslims - 2009|

DEC 3 — The past couple of weeks has shown that Malaysians are featured in the “500 most influential Muslims in the world” list. The research categorised influential people into 15 categories — depicting the source of influence, among others, Scholarly, Political, Administrative, and Lineage. It is interesting to note that Women is also in one of the categories.

The research done by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISSC) of Jordan exerted that influence is hard to be quantified, thus those who are in the top 50 position are monarchs, religious scholars, or leaders of religious networks.

It also exerted that geography played a vital role in determining how influential someone is. Let’s say you are a religious scholar living in the Middle East, you are more likely be more influential than those living outside the region. North America and Europe are homes to many influential Muslims, considering the number of high-ranking institutions situated in these regions.

You are probably aware that the RISSC has placed Tuan Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat, at the 42nd position in the list.

Other Malaysians on the list are Sharifah Zuriah Aljeffri (Women), Zainah Anwar (Women), Prof Dato’ Dr Osman Bakar (Scholarly), Anwar Ibrahim (Political), Mohideen Abdul Kadir (Development), Prof Dr Mohd Hashim Kamali (Scholarly) , Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Political) and the nasheed group, Raihan (Arts and Culture).

It is also noted that only the top 50 is ranked. The other 450 appear unranked. But, there are 12 names that appeared in a list  said to have an influence, compared to the top 50 people.

I can’t help but wish to put into context the 42nd name on the list, make some commentaries on the relevance of the list on  the Muslimah’s movement in Malaysia, and track some trends on the future of influence/popularity in the Muslim world in the coming years. These are my interests, among other things that I too wish to write on.

Without any royal connections, being far from the Middle East, and not in command of a big oil reserve under his feet, I would say number 42 is quite something. I try to differentiate between two subjective things — influence and popularity. You have Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan at number 46 — A Pakistani Nuclear Scientist — the father of ‘Islamic Bomb’ who made Pakistan into a Muslim country with nuclear weapon.

Osama bin Laden made into the list — as a radical. I believe he is more popular than our own Tuan Guru, but in this case RISSC made him less ‘influential’.

I do believe however RISSC has considered popularity as one of the most important aspects to denote influence. Amr Khaled for who is at 14th place in the list is an example of this. A televangelist whose website said to rival Oprah Winfrey’s, Amr Khaled has been ranked as the 13th most influential person in the world by Time magazine.

Now it gets harder to quantify influence and popularity.

Said to have source of influence in the Administrative, Political and Scholarly  spheres, — Tuan Guru Nik Aziz is written in the book as a Spiritual Leader of the largest political party in Malaysia. The RISSC also added that he is a “spiritual leader of Malaysian Islamic politics, and holds very important sway over the tenor of politics in the nation” — I can’t help but agree, he really deserves the spot.

Tuan Guru Nik Aziz is always in the middle of controversies. But at every turn, one can learn something from his method of handling problems — by employing two of the most important Islamic elements, which are the spiritual and intellectual. He is a teacher to both his rivals and his friends.

In the time of writing, the 42nd most influential Muslim in the world is asked to resign his position.

It is not a surprise when two members of Sisters in Islam (SIS) made it to the list under the Women category. Zainah Anwar and Sharifah Zuriah Aljeffri are both members of the movement, and being in the list is proof that despite the many critics hurled towards SIS, the world community is beginning to accept them. Musawah, a Global Movement for Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family, which was launched on February 2009, has been initiated by SIS, indicates just how sophisticated the movement is.

Prof Amina Wadud who was a lecturer in International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) between 1989 and 1992 also made it to the list in the same category as an influential Muslim in the United States.

However, not a single first lady of this Muslim country however, made it to the list. Turkey has Hayrunnisa Gul — the first First Lady in Turkey to wear the hijab. I begin to have a secret wish that the next person who becomes the first lady in the future, will also have an influence on the Muslimahs of the country and beyond. A good influence, I mean.

This shows that the Malaysian Muslimah Movement is not far from being influential, but the many criticism hurled their way, can’t help but makes me think if there is truth that Muslim women in Malaysia don’t speak their minds, or are they wrong to making SIS as a representative of the Malaysian Muslimah.

But then, who is the most influential women in the Muslim world? Number 31 — Syeikha Munira Qubeysi — is a leader of a women only Islamic movement. She is an educator, and she has more than 75,000 students.

The Malaysian Muslimah Movement has alot to learn from her. Meanwhile, critics have to do better. They should wipe-out inaction from their vocabulary. And there is a lot to be done, when there are only 43 women in the 500 long list.

Revisiting Amr Khaled at number 14, there are a lot of reasons to see why he was given this spot. He owns the most popular personal website in the world with 20 million regular users, 232,219 fans on 79 Facebook groups, and 2 million hits on 200 Youtube videos. He makes everything seems possible to the average person.

At number 19, we can see supervisor, Sheikh Salman Al-Ouda. IslamToday.Com has 2000 daily hits. Sheikh Salman is also featured in many TV appearances, with global reachability.

These are ‘ordinary people’ who have major influence in the Muslim world. The list boasts royalties, grand muftis, spiritual leaders, presidents and head of nations. It seems that you and I have a shot here — by hosting a website that caters to many. But you can always opt to follow the footsteps of Osama or Obama — the latter accused as a Muslim, and does is not given a place in the list.

Whatever it is, the media is playing a very important role in the new age. Whether you own one or you opt for the alternative, is beside the point. Having both however, is one of the strategies that media giants adopt. CNN for example, being an old media agency, provides a personal touch by making their newscasters active on Twitter.

In the next 10 year, the list will have to consider the influence made on the youths of today. Influence and popularity tend to be similar in the new world. You are said to have an influence if people are able to look you up easily on Google, able to communicate with you through the various social networks, that you have plenty of connections with important people, for instance those who have a say in the Parliament, and that you are listed in Wikipedia.

While it is getting more subjective to quantify influence today, the published list helps. Fellow Muslims may look at it and see that there are people out there doing real work to help better the world, and they are Muslims. They can be proud of people featured, and also have faith that they can do something major, even though they are inside the Muslim community — assumed to be restrictive by many who do not understand Islam.

Others can have a look on the list and track the trends of Muslims, and where they are heading. They can identify who are the ones representing Islam in their community and learn from them.

The list has shown that there is a very thin line separating popularity and influence. The Issues of the Day category however, compensates the subjective “popularity equals influence” equation. The category boasts names that are involved in the recent issues in the world of today — I might even say this is where the real work is being done, though it may have either good or bad influence.

RISSC welcomes everyone to contribute to the list next year by sending emails to them. The list will become something to look forward to in the coming years, though I now wish that there will also be a list on “Muslims of the year”. The subjective influence/popularity can be put out of the equation — and those who really did contribute something, those that matter in the Muslim world made it to the list.

Hilman Nordin is a reader of The Malaysian Insider.


24 11, 2009

Recep Erdogan is Number Five Influential Muslim

November 24th, 2009|The 500 Most Influencial Muslims - 2009|

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is number five of world’s most influential Muslims according to issued list of most influential Muslim personalities.

The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World is a first of its kind published by the Prince Al-waleed Bin Talaal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding of Georgetown University, Washington DC in conjunction with the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan.

According to the list, Turkish Prime Minister is next after Saudi King Abdullah, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the King of Morocco Mohammed, and Jordan’s King Abdullah.

Main criteria for listing were the influence of listed persons both in their own countries and on the world stage.

Twenty Turkish persons made the list including Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul (number 28) and U.S.-living Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen (number 13).

Turkish papers say Erdogan is the only top-seeded leader who has been elected by democracy way. The Justice and Development Party, headed by Erdogan, was named as ‘aggressive adherent of the secular values with conservative-democratic slant’. Abdullah Gul was named as the ‘first Turkish president with Islamic past.’


21 11, 2009

Azerbaijani president included in “500 most influential Muslims of world” book

November 21st, 2009|The 500 Most Influencial Muslims - 2009|

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev was included in a book “500 most influential Muslims of the world,” the International Institute of Islamic Thought reported.

The book, which lists the 500 most influential people in the Muslim world and was published under the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, underscores that Aliyev is the leader of the country, whose population follows the basis of the moderate Islam and which is the active member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Caucasus Muslim Spiritual Leader, Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh is another representative from Azerbaijan in this list.

The book also includes Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s President Abudulla Gul, Saudi King Abdullah Ibn Saud, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Sultan of Oman Kabus ben Said, Prime Minister of United Arab Emirates Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the spiritual leaders of Iran, the rulers of the Asian Muslim countries.


20 11, 2009

Indonesians Make a Mark As ‘Influential Muslims’

November 20th, 2009|The 500 Most Influencial Muslims - 2009|

Notable Indonesian figures, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and former President Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, made it into “The 500 Most Influential Muslims — 2009,” a book that lists and provides short biographies of outstanding Muslims from the fields of politics, religion, women, the media and radicalism.

The book, edited at Washington’s Georgetown University, is the first in what is planned to be an annual survey of top Muslim personalities worldwide.

Having steered Indonesia toward a strong democracy while working toward eradicating terrorism, Yudhoyono made the list’s most influential in the political category.

Gus Dur was also mentioned in the same category, as the cleric who rallied against the formation of an Islamic state in Indonesia.

Scholar Azyumardi Azra, a prominent Indonesian academic who serves as advisor to the vice president, was also included on the list.

Indonesians who made it into the top 50 were Hasyim Muzadi, chairman of Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, the 40-million-strong Nahdlatul Ulama, who ranked 18th on the list.

Abdullah “AA Gym” Gynastiar, Indonesia’s most popular preacher, ranked 48th.

Indonesian women also made their mark.

Tuti Alawiyah, the nation’s former women’s empowerment minister, is dean of As Syafi’iyah University, Indonesia’s oldest institution of Islamic education. Siti Musdah Mulia, who chairs the women’s arm of the NU, helped produce the Counter Legal Draft, aimed at revising the Islamic legal code on the banning of polygamy and child marriages.

Lily Zakiah Munir, the only woman and sole Muslim to serve on the monitoring commission for the Afghan elections, is founder of the Center for Pesantren and Democracy Studies, an organization that educates Islamic boarding schools about rights and political participation.

Maria Ulfah, the first woman to win the international Qur’an recitation competition, serves as director of the women’s department at the Institute for Qur’an study in Indonesia.

Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, considered the philosophical leader of the terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, made it in the radicals category.


19 11, 2009

The world’s most influential Muslims?

November 19th, 2009|The 500 Most Influencial Muslims - 2009|

A list of the 500 ‘most influential’ Muslims in the world has left me confused, and not just because my name isn’t there

I was in Cairo International Airport earlier this week, scrolling through Facebook to see what my friends were up to, when I saw Shahed Amanullah had updated his status to say he was one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world.

I followed his link (pdf) to see who or what constituted influence these days. The result was a strange mix of clerics, dictators, terrorists and billionaires. It’s a fascinating document – all 202 glossy pages of it – and comes complete with a potted guide to Islam and a handy league table to show which country has the highest success rate.

“We have strived to highlight people who are influential as Muslims, that is, people whose influence is derived from their practice of Islam or from the fact that they are Muslim,” says the introduction.

Influence is a tricky concept, it continues, and in a variety of different ways each person on this list has influence over the lives of a large number of people on the earth.

“The 50 most influential figures are profiled. Their influence comes from a variety of sources; however they are unified by the fact that they each affect huge swaths of humanity.”

The above provide the overarching criteria for selection but there are more than a few anomalies. A quick glance reveals that being good and being influential are not mutually exclusive – Adnan Oktar makes an appearance. Not being observant presents no barrier to inclusion either as I was always under the impression that Zaha Hadid is an atheist.

Dave Chapelle is also on the list. Dave Chapelle? Have they seen his R Kelly skit? The writer and comedian has never confirmed whether he is Muslim or not, so the judging panel might as well have included Ronnie O’Sullivan as one of the 500. But if you’re talking about affecting “huge swaths of humanity” then surely Osama Bin Laden should be at the top spot? He isn’t. It’s King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Abdullah is custodian of the two Holy Mosques so he has a position of responsibility, but influence? The following paragraph is more revealing: “King Abdullah reigns over a land of massive crude oil reserves, Saudi Arabia has approximately 25% of the world’s proven oil reserves, making him a key player in the global petroleum industry.”

Bin Laden is on the list – as a radical. Funny, I thought he was a terrorist. This chapter is reserved for “infamous individuals [who] have incredible influence on vast amounts of people, often cited for heinous acts and controversial statements made from their platforms of authority.”

Alarm bells also ring over the lack of women featured. They get a separate section from the men. Too many of the top 50 are either heads of state, which automatically gives them an advantage when it comes to influence, or they have inherited their position. Lineage is a significant factor – it has its own category – and the predisposition to include children of important people reveals a mindset that indicates achievement is an optional extra.

There are some spot on assessments. Khamenei’s decisive role in geopolitics is undeniable. Erdogan’s position is also accurate. But this ambitious exercise seems more than a little inconsistent and ill-judged.


17 11, 2009

POLL: The world’s top 500 Muslims? Read and vote

November 17th, 2009|The 500 Most Influencial Muslims - 2009|

If you’ve ever been confused by Muslim names you read in the news or unsure who’s important in the Islamic world, help is near. A new book entitled “The 500 Most Influential Muslims – 2009″ lists prominent Muslims from different fields — politics, religion, women, media, even radicals — with informative short biographies explaining who they are. It starts with an overall “top 50″ list and then surveys the most prominent Muslims in their fields.  Here it is in PDF.

The book, edited by Professors John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin at Georgetown University in Washington, is the first in what is planned to be an annual survey of the top Muslim personalities around the world. It’s a joint effort by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Amman and Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Esposito is director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center and Kalin is spokesman for the Common Word dialogue initiative we’ve written about on this blog before.

As the editors say in their introduction: “Influence in the Muslim world is particular to its context. There is not a clear hierarchy or organised clergy for Muslims to identify a leader, such as a patriarch for Orthodox Christians or a pope for Catholics.” They took a mix of factors into account in working out their top 50 list and have even asked readers to send in suggestions for next year’s list. You can vote for your candidate for “most influential Muslim” in the poll at the bottom of this post.

(UPDATE: The online poll has been closed after more than 1.8 million votes but comments are still open. See the results below.)

abdullahSo who are the world’s most influential Muslims, according to this book? Here are the top 10:

1. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, king of Saudi Arabia, custodian of the two Holy Mosques
2. Grand Ayatollah Hajj Sayyid Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
3. King Mohammed VI, king of Morocco
4. King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
5. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister of the republic of Turkey
6. Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id al Sa’id, sultan of Oman
7. Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hussein Sistani, Marja of the Hawza, Najaf
8. Sheikh Al Azhar Dr Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, grand sheikh of the Al Azhar University, grand imam of Al Azhar Mosque
9. Sheikh Dr Yusuf Qaradawi, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars
10. Sheikh Dr Ali Goma’a, grand mufti of the Arab Republic of Egypt
(Photo: Saudi King Abdullah, 17 Nov 2009/Philippe Wojazer)

A few initial comments about these 10 andthe other 40 ( check the PDF for the full list):

– Lots of kings and sultans crowding the top of the full list, with Recep Tayyip Erdogan the highest elected politician (5th). “Influential” is clearly interpreted broadly here, including political, religious and other types of influence.

– The first solely religious leader is Iraq’s  Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (7th), and even he has political power behind the scenes.

–  Fethullah Gülen, who won an Internet poll on “the world’s top public intellectuals ” in Foreign Policy magazine last year apparently thanks to a click-in campaign by his supporters, still comes a strong 13th.

– The heads of  Hezbollah (Seyyed Hasan Nasrallah, 17th) and  Hamas (Khaled Mashaal, 34th) are also listed.

– The highest-ranking American (and highest-ranking convert, it seems) at 38th place is Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson, founder of the  Zaytuna Institutein Berkeley, California. Right after him comes the highest-ranking European, Sheikh  Mustafa Ceric, grand mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

aqkhan– Even  Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist behind Islamabad’s nuclear program who sold nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, gets ranked (46th).
(Photo: Abdul Qadeer Khan, 28 Aug 2009/Mian Khursheed)

Beyond the top 50, there are chapters on leading Muslims in different fields but no ranking. So Osama bin Laden is there under “radicals,” Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) under “arts and culture” and microcreditor Mohammad Yunus under “development”. There are short essays on Islam and the Muslim world. All in all, an excellent reference work.

What do you think? Who is the most influential Muslim in the world? To give us your own view, enter the name of your choice into the box below. The poll will automatically tally the answers and produce a top 10 according to the number of votes each person receives.