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”.