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

November 17, 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.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Dr AQKnot sold themhe just help his muslims brothersu never say U,S sold to Israeelthey all make muslims badbut?????????what we r doingthey not ever know ????

Posted by imran | Report as abusive

Seyh Nazim is a beloved man who spend all his life with the love of Allah. Adnan Oktar also lives his life for the love of Allah. He endures difficulties and hindrances. Despite all legal attacts against him Adnan Oktar stayed strong and continued in his way. We love these respectable, notable and inspiring personalities.

Posted by hasan | Report as abusive

Dear all, i totally vote for br mohammad sheikh as the most influential scholar.RGDSfarzana.

Posted by farzana mufti | Report as abusive

Most informative scholar about Quran > number 1 Mohammad Shaikhwww.iipc.tvwww.iipctube.comwww.iip ctalk.comI vote for Mohammad Shaikh all the way because of his detailed lectures on what quran says about different topics

Posted by Ismael | Report as abusive

at first most of them are not MUSLIMS most of them are MURTAD-DEENS(INFIDELS)and who has voted like this everyone knows that the most influental Muslim in the WORLD is shaikh USAMA BIN LADEN.

i heard that some say about ATTATURK hey yo people wake up ATTATURK was not a muslim just his nbame was muslim name he was destroyer of the KHALIFAT and a FREEMASON how u mean to say about him muslim and not just that but and “influental”???????????????

Fethullah Gülen

Posted by metin cetiner | Report as abusive

Mohammad Shiakhs lectures on What QURAN says about Terrorism, Jihad / Strive, Qatal / Killing and War are an eye opener for the whole Muslim world especially those who wrongly think Islam / Peace is about bloodshed. Watch and shareTerrorismwww.youtube.com/watch?v=0k HOnuqUjpEJihad / Strivewww.youtube.com/watch?v=Ml-wwf6QZi IKillinghttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n lGbk9tvkZoWarhttp://www.youtube.com/watc h?v=C4GY-2Ukftg

i heard that some say about ATTATURK hey yo people wake up ATTATURK was not a muslim just his nbame was muslim name he was destroyer of the KHALIFAT and a FREEMASON how u mean to say about him muslim and not just that but and “influental”???????????????- Posted by Rajjab al GhashiyyahI bet you’ve heard that IN YOUR SLEEP Al whatever.Have you also heard that he had closed all the masonic lodges in Turkiye when he was in power? Probably not.He did not sit in the knees of cia or masonic lodges unlike the list you have here; Muslims of the lodges.Fanatics who worship for the sake of it, will be used and abused by the nwo are the real freemasons.

Posted by FENASI KERIM | Report as abusive

For those people who are on Facebook you can access Mohammad Shaikhs Lecture easily and see for yourself why he has the most relevant lectures related from the Quran for the Muslim world. Become a fan of Mohammad Shaikh and also below is the where you can find the all the VDO lectures online on Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/pages/Mo hammad-Shaikh/116026672247


Posted by saliha | Report as abusive

Fethullah Gülen

Posted by oyaoktay | Report as abusive

Looking forward to the read.Edwin Malloryermallory@me.com

Fethullah Gülen

Posted by Abdulkadir Aç?kgöz | Report as abusive


Posted by hasan kul | Report as abusive

Fethullah Gulen

Posted by asli | Report as abusive

Fethullah Gülen

Posted by Alpaslan | Report as abusive

Watch why Mohammad Shaikh is one of the moist influential Muslims in the world. With over 40 lecture available to watch free online from his website http://www.iipc.tv and on youtube http://www.youtube/iipctvadmin You can also talk to him online directly on http://www.iipctalk.com and discuss with him the lectures that you have seen. He is one of the most accessible scholars in the world ready to meet and discuss on any topic from the Quran on which he has delivered a lecture

Posted by www.iipc.tv | Report as abusive

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi al Haqqani

Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

are the most influential persons in this universe. We all need their blessings.

Posted by AbdulQadir | Report as abusive

I think Dr. Abdul Qadir Khan is the real Hero of the present Islamic world … His comparison with Islamic schlors or other Islamic personalities is Un justified..Simply there is no comparison …And one more point please remove those words from your website that he sold nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea .
as nothing is proved against him whatever he said in his statement was pressured by the western powers.

Posted by Iqbal2009 | Report as abusive

Please include another influential person to your list.

Her name is Dr. Farhat Hashmi, and for over 15 years and counting she has traveled the world with a single purpose: Qur’an for all. In every hand and every heart. So countless people will have a chance to learn Qur’an with Tajweed and proper meaning. In a world obsessed with material things, she is the only one who exhorts her students and listeners to the purification of heart, and redemption from sin. Happiness from material things is only transitory, she exhorts her students to prepare for the Hereafter which is more lasting and worthy endeavour. Instead of chasing the happiness and approval of other people, she connects her students to Allah.

She has the full tool kit for this work, a passionate missionary’s spirit, kind of humour and enormous charm and personal charisma. And the right credentials, BA in Islamic studies, Masters in the Arabic language, Ph.D in Hadith sciences, not to mention numerous ijaza from renowned scholars of the past.
Apart from her journey across the planet, meeting people and educating them through her lectures, short courses, audio lectures and books and articles, she has founded many branches of Al Huda Institute across Pakistan and now fortunately in Canada, where students can study in house for a duration of a few months. All her Qur’an classes and book studies are also aired online and people from all the way in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Australia benefit. All her students have affirmed a transformation in their spiritual and social lives through studying Qur’an with her and many from them have vowed to dedicated some part of their life to further convey the valuable teachings of Qur’an to the best of their abilities.
She is also at the forefront of organizing charitable projects for the poor and the needy, especially those devastated with natural disasters. Her team has catered to drought and flooded areas of Pakistan.

Please visit her websites: http://www.alhudapk.com/education/ and http://www.alhudapk.com/social-welfare/
http://www.alhudainstitute.ca and http://www.farhathashmi.com

She is the real deal, a hero scholar, perhaps one of the very few Muslim women of our time who has sacrificed her attachment to this world, her time, wealth and leisure to send each each day working so that others can understand the Qura’n, hadith and more. She truly is a light of knowledge and wisdom for our planet and a beacon of hope. We truly are in need of more Muslim men and women like her.

May Allah preserve her and grant us the ability to learn and teach Qur’an aameen.

Posted by Sarah.S | Report as abusive

Fethullah Gülen

Posted by berna | Report as abusive

fethullah gülen

Posted by erulan | Report as abusive


Posted by marmara | Report as abusive

Foreign Policy rankings and Fethullah Gülen

http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detayl ar.do?load=detay&link=145788

A modern Ottoman

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2008/0 7/amodernottoman/

The Gülen Movement: A Sociological Analysis of a Civic Movement Rooted in Moderate Islam

http://www.amazon.com/G%C3%BClen-Movemen t-Sociological-Analysis-Moderate/dp/1402 098936

Posted by istanbul7tepe | Report as abusive

There has been a discussion about Mr Fethullah Gulen, Do you have any academic referances? I found somethings but not enough please help me on this…

Here is the ones I have…

A modern Ottoman

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2008/0 7/amodernottoman/

Foreign Policy rankings and Fethullah Gülen

http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detayl ar.do?load=detay&link=145788

Posted by istanbul7tepe | Report as abusive

there are some names remain to be mentioned
1. shaikh aboobakr ahmed of india
2. shaikh umer hafiz of yemen
3. shaikh habib ali jifri of yemen
4. shaikh muhammed ali assabuni of makkah

Posted by shihabdin | Report as abusive

Dr abdul qudir is the hero of Pakistan here is an video on the lectures about the most influence Muslims in the world http://www.youtube/iipctvadmin


Posted by learningquran | Report as abusive

mohammad shaikh claims to be Mohammad Rasoolillah.

Posted by mazemn | Report as abusive

Dr abdul qudir is the hero of Pakistan here is an video on the lectures about the most influence Muslims in the world


Posted by islamicnet | Report as abusive

In response to a comment made by (MAZEMN).

The comment reads as follows:

mohammad shaikh claims to be Mohammad Rasoolillah.
Posted by mazemn | Report as abusive

This is blasphemy. Something that the person under the light never can ever claim.

On the contrary, I invite everyone with this horrendous mindset to come and visit the website: http://www.iipc.tv ,
and watch the lecture on “What al-qur’an says about Bani Israel/ Children of Israel”

Where Br Mohammad Shaikh has clearly denied such charges/ labels being placed on him.

And also view his lecture ‘What Al-Qu’an says about Mohammad (Rasool ALLAH/ Messenger of ALLAH), to know the true personality of The Messenger of ALLAH i.e. Mohammad/ Praiseworthy (peace be upon him).

One should do research and verify before putting false charges on the man.

Posted by mohammadtaj | Report as abusive

muhammad shakh i think he is nice parson and well understand quraniq ayat so plz dont bolsheet about shakh sahab

Posted by shakilpppp | Report as abusive