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/

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil Al Qubrusi Al Haqqani and Shaykh Hisham Kabbani have been the most influential people, and I am proud to be associated with them and their movement.

Posted by abid desai | Report as abusive

I have met and sat with Shaykh Nazim Adil Al Qubrusi Al Haqqani recently and the Love and the Power of this Good man is outstanding. I send out all the Love and Peace from my heart to Shaykh Nazim and all Naqshbandi Companions

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi and Shaykh Hisham Kabbani make spiritually come alive. Their teachings are universal. They embody the love of Allah and make the inner struggle to be closer to our Lord attractive. I am so fortunate to have met them in my lifetime. May Allah be always well pleased with them.

Posted by julie | Report as abusive

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil Al Qubrusi Al Haqqani and Shaykh Hisham Kabbani have been the most influential people in my life ever. We love them

Posted by Ashraf Arbee | Report as abusive

Sheih Mehmet Nazim Adil Al Qubrusi Al Haqqani. He touch my heart, because he knows what happen in our hearts. He’s illuminist. He can advise to the world to be save of the end.He’s the most infuential person of all over the world.

Posted by Judith Olsak | Report as abusive

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim is the most mercifull man who had ever meet in my whole life, God bless him

Posted by Yunus Perdiguero Fustes | Report as abusive

My GOD blees sheikh MOhammed Nazim Adeel Al Qubrusi Alhaqqani and his followers

Harun Yahya (Adnan Oktar) is the Muslim scholar of the century. my vote for him. Tahnks for his effort.

Posted by rece | Report as abusive

sheikh nazim haqqani is the master of the time, he brings heavenly teachings to this world, if everyone took advice of him the world would be a peacefull place.

Posted by atif rasool | Report as abusive

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil Al Qubrusi Al Haqqani and Shaykh Hisham Kabbani is most important person in this time

Posted by arief ludiantoro | Report as abusive

BismillahirrahmanirrahimHarun Yahya I vote for ALLAH graced him with the patience and endurement of Yusuf aleyhisselam.Allah bless him

Posted by ali | Report as abusive

Sheikh Nazim came into my life when I was searching for The One Truth and confirmed the inspiration of my soul. I met him 22 years ago and since then I have not met anyone who surpasses him in the beauty of his character and appearance and in his likeness to the attributes of the Prophet Muhammad sws himself.I feel truly blessed and therefore I vote for him, because I wish that he be known all over the world and that humanity receive the same blessings that I received and continue to receive every single day of my life! Alhamdulillah wa Shukrulillah, and all Praise belongs to Allah Almighty and His Beloved servant in His divine Presence S.Muhammad Mustafa sws!

Posted by Khairiyah | Report as abusive

Brother Harun Yahaya (Adnan Oktar) doing honorable work for the whole Islam community.Fighting with the Dajjal of our time Darwinism and materialism.My vote for him.

Posted by ali | Report as abusive

No doubt on those dark days, our most beloved and honoured sheikh Muhammad Adil NAZIM AL HAQQANI is the most influent muslim in this world, and in my life, it is a bless for me to folow his teachings with love, and my life has considerably changed. May Allah give him a long life and a big support, peace be upon him. At this time humanity and all human being needs a spiritual guide to seek the real love and spiritual path.

Posted by EL HEJRAOUI Ali | Report as abusive

Maulana Sheikh Mehmet Nazim is the MAN. We LOVE YOU & MAY ALLAH GIVE YOU LONG LIFE AMIN

Posted by janggut | Report as abusive

M. Fethullah Gülen

Posted by ZUBEYIR | Report as abusive

SHE?KH NAZIM QUBRUS? is an identical and significant Muslim leader of a worldwide ?slamic community

Posted by yakub | Report as abusive

Brother Harun Yahaya (Adnan Oktar) doing honorable work for the whole Islamic community and educating brilliantly all of us. Alhumdullilah .My vote is for him.

Brother Mohammad Shaikh is the only person who I have met in my life who talks about the quranic ayats with meaning every time he delivers a lecture-he has profoundly influenced my life and has helped me understand the essence of Allah’s ayats which in turn has helped me become a better and practising muslim.So many questions that used to bother me as a female were answered when i saw the lecture on “what al-quran says about hijab” and “what al-quran says about husband and wife relationship”.I am thankful to Allah for having brought Brother Shaikh in my life as without his insight, i would have lived the life of just a labelled muslim but now I know that when I die, I have done something,even if little, to bring me closer to my Lord.

sheikh Nazim Adil al Qubrusi is the most influential muslim leader no doubt.

Posted by mehmet | Report as abusive

Shaykh Nazim of Cyprus is in my view, the most influential Muslim in this world. His travels and spread of Islam through Love of Allah, SWT, Peace and Non-violence has attracted endless communities into Islam. He has influenced prominent religious leaders, heads of state, dignitaries. This humble servant of Allah SWT lives in Cyprus.

Posted by Kor Kakoye | Report as abusive

My soul vote for Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi al Haqqani, no doubt !!! I love Sh Hisyam Kabbani though..

Posted by nitadewi | Report as abusive


Posted by monica | Report as abusive

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi al Haqqani is Sultanul Auliya of the 21st century. I love him so much ,His my spritual father.

Posted by Hussien Bin Ahmad | Report as abusive

My Inspiration

Posted by Saadah Ramadhani | Report as abusive

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil Al Qubrusi Al Haqqani has been the most influential person in my life. He saved my life both spritualy and physically.May Allah keep us under his spritual gaze and may we benefit from his heavenly teachings Ameen.

Posted by Faika | Report as abusive

best of the best

Posted by Neda | Report as abusive

I vote for Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil Al Qubrusi Al Haqqani!

Posted by Jane | Report as abusive

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil Al Qubrusi Al Haqqani takes my vote, for he is the most influential Muslim in the world!!!

Posted by Habila | Report as abusive

I propose Mohammad Shaikh as the most influential Muslim in the world. He has brought SO MANY new people to true Islam, all over the world, affecting even those people who were born Muslims and had ‘lapsed’ in their Islamic practices.By means of his teachings and advice, based on a firm and complete education in Islam, his wisdom and knowledge illuminates the Truth. We are indeed very fortunate that a large portion of these teachings are now available online athttp://www.iipc.tvhttp://www.iipctube. comhttp://www.youtube.com/iipctvadmin

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil Al Qubrusi Al Haqqani has been the most influential person in my life. He saved my life both spritualy and physically.May Allah keep us under his spritual gaze and may we benefit from his heavenly teachings Ameen…

Mohammad shaikh is the only scholar I know that is using the latest medium and technology top spread the word of God. All his lectures are available free of cost onlinehttp://www.iipc.tv

Posted by FATIMA HUSSAIN | Report as abusive


Posted by CANSEL | Report as abusive

my vote goes to Mohammad shaikh…you have to watch his lectures to know why he is so special.

Posted by Maryam | Report as abusive

Sheik mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi al Haqqani and Sheik Hisham Kabbani

Posted by Alexander | Report as abusive

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil Al Qubrusi Al Haqqanitakes my vote, my vote is for him. He is a spritual saint.

Posted by MARWAN FARHAT | Report as abusive

Muhmmed Fethullah Gulen is so special muslim leader..Allah bless him..my vote is for him…

Posted by ihsan | Report as abusive

I vote forSeyyed Hossein Nasra man of peace and intellect.

Posted by Laura Renee | Report as abusive

I love mohammad shaikhs “what Alqiran Says” lecture series…deals with everyhting from personal relationships, husband and wives to topics like God and devil …you gotta watch it..also available on his site http://www.iipc.tv

Posted by M. Khalid | Report as abusive

my vote is for M.Fethullah GULEN http://www.fethullahgulen.org/

Posted by yunus | Report as abusive

vote for Mohammad Shaikh, vote for the best and sincerest scholar in the world. Join his fan club on facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/pages/Mo hammad-Shaikh/116026672247

Posted by Amna Zafar | Report as abusive


Posted by Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi al Haqqani | Report as abusive

I Vote for Adnan Oktar (Harun Yahya)

Posted by halil Ibrahim | Report as abusive


Posted by Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi al Haqqani | Report as abusive

Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

Posted by Mudassar Hussain | Report as abusive

adnan oktar(harun yahya) is the leader of the Islamic world

Posted by sifa32 | Report as abusive

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi al Haqqani and Sheikh Hisham Kabbani

Posted by Aly | Report as abusive

Adnan Oktar (Harun Yahya) is the most influencial Muslim in our time.

A lot are arguing why not my Shaikh or Imam. Well, we should come out of the closed circle that we have if we agree in will of God, it is what it is.Secondly by creating a campaign and asking everyone to vote for certain character, first takes away the “will power” part of the game, second a fair voice does not come out. It is best that our leaders decide this, i don’t think for example my vote should count the same as someone who is a lot wiser than me, specially if i am biased.Wa Salam.

Posted by saythetruth | Report as abusive

hey good polling, I vote for Mohammad Shaikh, the most easily accessible scholar with all his lectures and speeches available online FOR FREE. Is there any other scholar who has this kind of work available online for any one from any part of the world?. Mohammad Shaikh is the best…watch his lectures on http://www.iipc.tv become his fan in facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mohammad-S haikh/116026672247 and talk to him LIVE on http://www.iicptalk.com

Posted by Shah Khan | Report as abusive