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

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