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/

Fethullah Gülen

Fethullah Gülen

Posted by adem baskaya | Report as abusive


Posted by sahin | Report as abusive

Maulana Shayk Nazim Al Haqqani – may Allah give him long, healthy life so that the hope in our hearts will continue.

Posted by Balqis | Report as abusive

Maulana’s son-in-law Shaykh Hisham is also a very influential great man. He is doing a great job in a country so corrupted like the US. His sohbets are great – powerful.

Posted by Balqis | Report as abusive

we support democratically elected secular/tolerant muslim leaders

Posted by syed saad | Report as abusive

I think to vote here is the waste of time. this is not genuine voting. All person are bots here specially Adnan Oktar and Mohammad Shaikh

Adnan Oktar without doubt he is the number one with 300 books and works against darwinism and materialism and spreading Islam worldwide..

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive

I vote for the international hero, Adnan Oktar.He conduce millions of people’s faith.He conducted evolutionary theory.He prooved that evolutionary theory is not scientific by using plaeotology, genetics etc.He showed all the wprld that darwinism is the cause of wars, slaughters, disasters, lovelessness, absolute conflict in the world.He invited all the Muslims, Christians, Jews, Budists, atheists to live in peace, tolerance, love, respect.May Allah bless Adnan Oktar.Adnan Oktar is the most influential Muslim in the world.

Posted by Adnan Oktar fan | Report as abusive

Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil al-Haqqani al-Qubrusi al-Firdausi an-Naqshbandi (born April 23, 1922 (CE is the leader of the Naqshbandi-Haqqani Sufi Order.He spread sincerity, love, piety, harmony, and happiness among people,he spread the knowledge of peace within the heart, the knowledge of peace within communities, the knowledge of peace between nations, in order that wars and struggles will be taken away from this world and peace will become the dominating factor. He shows his followers the way to keep their obligations in the Islamic tradition, to be moderate, to live in peace with everyone of every religion, to leave hatred and enmity. Religion is for Allah and Allah is the judge of His servants. For more references see the link belowhttp://www.sufilive.comAbdelhadi from canada.

Posted by Hadi | Report as abusive

Adnan Oktar works for the Islamic Union.The idel of all Muslims should be to unite in brotherhood. You can see one of his websites: http://www.callforanislamicunion.com/

Posted by ahmedi | Report as abusive

Since 2000 I followed all the works of Adnan Oktar, and watched all the documentaries. Many people gain the love of Allah caused Adnan Oktar.

Posted by Marisa May | Report as abusive

Vote for mohammad shaikh, if you dont know why he deserves the the number 1 spot then watch any one of his lectures…by far the most influential speeches of any scholar!!! http://www.iipc.tv

Posted by samia shaheryar | Report as abusive

Watch this small portion of mohammad shaikhs lecture and you will know he deserves to be number one..interesting topic, on what Quran says about husband and wife relationshiphttp://www.youtube.com/iipct vadmin#p/search/7/g4LWr_dP5us

Posted by shah khan | Report as abusive

I vote Adnan Oktar.

Posted by Levent | Report as abusive

If We think all over the world absolutely Adnan OKTAR is the most influential with his books and films.

Posted by Kasim Gencer | Report as abusive

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi al Haqqani has touched the lives and hearts of millions of human being across the globe since he began his rigorous training as a Sufi in the Naqshbandi Tariqah. He is the Sultan of Awliyas today, a towering spiritual leader whose knowledge of both Sharia and spiritual scholarships is unequaled. He teaches by example, a shiny beacon of integrity and boundless love for all humanity, particularly the Seal of the Prophets, Sayyidina Mohamed sws. He touched and changed the hearts of people from all nationalities and walks of life. He gave tens of thousands of lectures, now published into books by his devoted Deputy Mawlana Shaykh Hisham al Kabbani, tirelessly travelling around the world to spread his message of moderation, tolerance and love. He stands in sharp contrast to the extremist Wahhabis and Salafis today, the very embodiment of the Path with a Heart, as the Naqshbandi Tariqah is known. May God bless him and give him long life.

Posted by Rachida Roberts | Report as abusive

My vote is for mohammad shailh the only scholar in the world who bases his influential speeches completely and wholly on the verses of the quran with very surprising conclusions, i mean who knew the house of God, the Kabah in mecca has always remained the ONLY Qiblah (direction of belief) for the muslim world in all times? This has very wide and far reaching implications on muslim and jewish relations as far as Jerusalem is concerned. If the first house according to the quran and mohammad shaikhs lecture is established from day 1 then Jerusalem has no importance to the muslim world! now that’s influential.ref: http://www.youtube.com/iipctvadmin#p/sea rch/17/fLzC8UGjL68

Posted by shaheryar khan | Report as abusive

Harun Yahya is the most influential muslim in the world.

Posted by Adil Dogrusoz | Report as abusive

This is to submit by vote to Mr.Adnan Oktar renowned all over the world by his pen name Harun Yahya. His works have made a tremendous impact all over the world. His resourceful books, documentary films, short films , presentations and other materials have been a major help for many people recovering their faith in Almighty God and for many others in gaining deeper insights into their faiths.All the materials based on his works are downloadable from his official webpage : http://www.harunyahya.comMoreover, he responds to world events with hundreds of articles. What I love about him is his sincerity and inspiring character. He has got a tremendous influence over me. Especially the peaceful alliances he establishes with the devout believers in Judaism and Christianity are not to be disregarded.He revives the early Ottoman period, and has got a positive approach on everything.Despite being subjected to hardships and difficulties in many stages of his lives, he has never wavered in the face of those difficulties demonstrating great patience and endurance. These are truly inspiring sequences.His works and researches refuting Darwinism and other Atheistic ideologies have had a major impact.There are very important developments that can be read atwww.harunyahyaimpact.comHe promotes peace and unity among different communities, and everyone love him so much.I vote for Harun Yahya[ real name :Adnan oktar ]

Each person talks based on his or her knowledge and her or his experience on whom to vote and it’s only normal that each choses one over the other. However, though there is a need of true teachers to guide the students, God has created each teacher for a purpose. We each has taste the knowledge from our teachers in ways that touches our lives and heart to make us peaceful. Sheikh Mehmet Nazim al Qubrusi al Haqqani also explains everything from the Quran and Hadith. I live here in the US and yet I’m in touch with people in one of the Island in the Indian Ocean and I’m told of someone who had vision that He is the Master of our times. How his picture calms down a handicapped child, how another group speak highly of him recognizing all that he has done for spreading the teaching of love, peace, fighting terrorism through spreading the spiritual knowledge or through various prayers. I heard of story that he has healed people, and I have seen how his representative Shaykh Hisham Kabbani follows his footseps in every possible way.

Posted by Fatema | Report as abusive

The world needs to know about Mohammad Shaikh and the important body of work that he has produced by the grace of God. His lectures touch upon every imaginable issue important to the muslim world and the global community at large. From topic touching upon terrorism, war, jehad in islam to topics realted to the BOOK of God and on to relationships according to the Book of God, such as husband wife, parent children and more. He is the only scholar in the world who has truly identified WHO is GOD according to the word of God by breaking down the false gods mentioned in the Quran. I dont know anyone who has achieved this which makes Mohammad shaikh the most influential speaker of his time in my opinion http://www.iipc.tv

Hard hitting, to the point directly from the Book of God, Mohammad Shaikhs lectures are a revelation…I vote for Mohammad Shaikh

Posted by A big Fan | Report as abusive

Me and my all firends,vote for Fethullah Gulen but it did not work..I do not belive this pool is working right.

Posted by hurmali | Report as abusive

definitely adnan oktar. he is the best. he made me believe in Allah truly. Allah bless you MR HARUN YAHYA.

Posted by johanna | Report as abusive

Adnan Oktar works for the Islamic Union.The idel of all Muslims should be to unite in brotherhood. You can see one of his websites:http://www.callforanislamicunio n.com/

Posted by ahmed | Report as abusive

Adnan Oktar is lader the turkish-islamic union:http://www.turkishislamicunion.com  /

Posted by murad | Report as abusive

If you also see the site http://www.harunyahya.ru.You also decide that the most influential muslim in the world is Harun Yahya.

Posted by Arthur | Report as abusive


Posted by harun yi?it | Report as abusive

Harun Yahya is the most effective schoolar, Muslim leader in the world. Also, Harun Yahya ( Adnan Oktar ) has an interview with Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil Al Qubrusi Al Haqqani, Sheikh Naz?m loves Adnan Oktar very much. And he says that: “Some people doesn’t understand the value of Adnan Oktar.” If want to listen the interview, you can go to , http://www.harunyahya.tv .

Posted by sultan | Report as abusive

I met Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi al Haqqani over 25 years ago in Peckham mosque, London. First I became a Muslim, then later I took bayat. He has the most sublime presence, his heart is full of the love of Allah, his life is dedicated to the ways of the Prophet, SWS, he is the most orthodox yet also most tolerant Muslim on earth. He brings people into the Light, he fills the heart with peace. He never once gives any regard to his own needs – he works tirelessly in the cause of Truth. His teachings reach into every country on earth. His mission is peace amongst mankind. He shows us how to become obedient servants of Allah, and how to move towards the Divine Presence. May Allah grant him long life! Fatihah

No Sheikh in the world has real power…it’s allowed power from the top. Real military and national-power-pride is in turkish people. Long live the modern secularity of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Everything else is living in midage.

Posted by Selcuk Fatih Isik | Report as abusive

most influential Muslim leader Adnan Oktar

Posted by Osman | Report as abusive

Adnan Oktar (Harun Yahya)

Posted by Halil Ibrahim | Report as abusive

turkish comment:bu ankette Fethullah Gülen’e verilen oylar sanki hic verilmemis gibi oluyor bunun nedeni kusuratli yuzdelerin olmamasi. yoksa eminim 1milyon oydan en az 50binini almistir.

Posted by suleyman | Report as abusive

Congratulations! for Harun Yahya…

Posted by Levent | Report as abusive

Harun Yahya, is the most influential muslim not only of our time. His position is to be ranked not with contemporary scholars but with the greatest sahaba’s of Islam. After the death of the prophet Muhammad s.a.s there has been no other muslim with works and fruits, in quanity and quality, and in the impact and influence that Allah Almighty has bestowed on adnan oktar, our beloved. This poll is actually 42% because harun yahya and adnan oktar is one person. Today millions upon millions cherish harun yahya, regard him as the most devoted, accomplished, educated, elegant and sublime hero of Islam in the contemporary world.

Posted by ibn afzal | Report as abusive

Worldwide HARUN YAHYA supporters: Thank you for your votes. Each and every muslim will read Islam from Harun Yahya one day:)

Mawlana Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani is the most influential Sufi leader in the world.http://www.naksibendi.net

Mawlana Sheikh Nazim al-Haqqani is the most influential Sufi leader in the world. He Turkish website ishttp://www.naksibendi.net

Shaykh Nazim and Shaykh Hisham and Shaykh Adnan are the best.

Posted by with respect | Report as abusive

Muhammad Shaikh is the only known scholar who is truly Propagating the message of Allah. If you like to understand the true essence of the ayat of Allah visit http://www.iipc.tv. May Allah guide all of us InshAllah.

Hello,Name of Fethullah Gülen is writed in pdf file Fethullah Güllen it not true, Fethullah Gülen is true.

Posted by Zafer Deniz | Report as abusive

I give my vote to the one and only HARUN YAHYA!..

Posted by roytir | Report as abusive


Posted by TUFAIL AHMED | Report as abusive

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi al Haqqani Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

Posted by muhibbin | Report as abusive

Please add Fethullah Gulen + Fethullah Gülen

Posted by Metin AKCAN | Report as abusive

Mohammad shaikh of IIPC (www.iipc.tv)

Posted by faraz | Report as abusive

Fethullah Gulen

Posted by Mert kuru | Report as abusive

I am wondering how comes Mr GÜLEN´S votes are counted in a strange way that it does not show the real resultI think there is an error ,please I request you to check it well,we love people who love people ,

Posted by Smart Star | Report as abusive