Two locals named among most influential Muslims

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