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/

sure i vote Harun Yahya. i think he is the only best for making activity all over the world. everybody knows Creation of Atlas. it was unbelievable book.its very precious item for believers or nonbelievers. that is path to beautiful heaven.

Posted by NYC | Report as abusive

of course Harun Yahya from Istanbul.www.harunyahya.com

Posted by john | Report as abusive


Posted by tanti | Report as abusive

If the criterion of influence is enlightenment activities of course in Russia and CIS its Adnan Oktar.

Posted by Karen | Report as abusive

I thing Fethullah Gülen is one who is the human lover, carer,thinker,educater,englighter, and he is the one who welcomes human beings for being human beings,

Posted by Besnili | Report as abusive

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi al Haqqani is definitely today’s leader in the muslim world. A spiritual father to millions of muslims the world over. I can’t think of any personality today that fit this description.He has many helpers and the most prominent of all are his Khalifas Sheikh Hisham Kabbani and Sheikh Adnan Kabbani. May Allah bless them all and raise their spiritual stations even higher. Amin!o.d.i.t.w.

Posted by onlydustinthewind | Report as abusive

Mawlana Sheikh Nazim al-Haqqani is the most influential Sufi leader in the world. He is definetly the number one between Muslims. Please look for his Turkish website athttp://www.naksibendi.net

Mohammad Shaikh all the way, he is number 1. For anyone to see that all they have to do is watch a single lecture of his and they will know why, he speaks directly from the Book of God using only the verses to establish the Truth. watch on http://www.iipc.tv

Posted by Shah | Report as abusive

We love Harun Yahya(Adnan OKTAR). He is in ?stanbul(?SLAMBOL). ?stanbul is going to be a center of ?slamic World!!

he is the only best for making activity all over the world

Posted by maya_budiman | Report as abusive

Mohammad shaikh is number 1 and WHY Mohammad Shaikh is number 1 is because he is 100% original. Every scholar I know is either copying the work of someone else, or is just getting his numbers up by putting others down and pulling the pants of others. They dont tell you what the truth is in the Quran, all they tell you is what is false in others. Mohammad shaikh is the only scholar i know whose lectures show WHAT is the TRUTH from the Quran, and not how other people are wrong without giving what is the Right or the Truth in the Quran. Mohammad Shaikh is the only one who shows the verses from the Quran to establish TRUTH while others are busy trying to Falsify others. THAT is why he is original and NUMBER 1 in my Book. http://www.iipc.tv for more

Posted by Shaheryar Khan | Report as abusive

Dear REUTERS members;I would like to clarify something about voting Who is the most influential Muslim in the world? Or The world’s top 500 muslims. There are two names which implies the same person. It is written in Turkish Fethullah Gülen and in English Fethullah Gulen. Please add the votes of this two names and print out just one of the names on the result.Thanks.

1,592,163 Votes in 3 days, I would laugh at this. This is bots and nothing else. Its real shame on you people, how could you even say that you are muslims? Don’t cheat people.

Posted by Isaac | Report as abusive


Posted by hussein | Report as abusive

Of course Harun Yahya Because of internet site http://www.harunyahya.ru.

Posted by Igor | Report as abusive

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Posted by alberto samara | Report as abusive

I vote for Fethullah Gülen !

Posted by Sena | Report as abusive

One should ask Who unites the Muslims? Who dares to stand against the Western materialization? Who does not make a cultural, scientific, intellectual jihad?The answer will lead to HARUN YAHYA/ADNAN OKTAR… Since Harun Yahya loves and supports all of the listed scholars, no problem brothers. There is no division in the votes. We are all in the same side… Wassalam

Posted by abraham k. | Report as abusive

Fetullah Gülen

Posted by Hamit Travac | Report as abusive


Fethullah Gülen

Posted by jacop | Report as abusive

This is fun power. we invited people to vote this pole. With Facebook & Twitter & Other Web Societies & Our web sites…We Love HARUN YAHYA! (adnan oktar)

Posted by harun yahya FUN CLUB | Report as abusive

Harun Yahya

Posted by Suleyman | Report as abusive

Fethullah Gulen

Posted by Fikri Kaya | Report as abusive

it’s not possible that Fethullah Gülen is at 0 % . There is a mistake ?Please check Reuters !

So many people has invited to vote this poll.* http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hz-Muhamme d/36203371676

Posted by kemal | Report as abusive

Mawlana Sheikh Nazim al-Haqqani is the most influential Sufi leader world-wide. He is definetly the number one between all Muslims. Please look for his Turkish website here:http://www.naksibendi.net

Fethullah Gülen

Posted by Tuba Travac | Report as abusive

Fethullah Gülen

Posted by Nermin Travac | Report as abusive

I vote for Fethullah Gülen

Posted by Ali Arslan | Report as abusive

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi al HaqqaniShaykh Hisham Kabbani

Posted by abdul hakim | Report as abusive

http://www.womaninthequran.com : Adnan Oktar’s web site is perfect. MA?ALLAH

Posted by serdar | Report as abusive

My vote until the end is for Mr. Adnan Oktar. Please review the link you provided. http://www.unionoffaiths.com/

Posted by Marisa May | Report as abusive

Fethullah Gülen

Posted by murat | Report as abusive

Fethullah Gülen

Posted by MEHMET CETINBAS | Report as abusive

If you want to know who is Adnan Oktar, please check this link http://www.harunyahya.com/

Posted by Sandra Blume | Report as abusive

?mam ?skender Ali M?HR

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil Al-Qubrusi Al-Haqqani and Sheikh Hisham Kabbani .They are true master

Posted by Nurul Firdaus | Report as abusive

We young Bosnian Muslims read and learn Islam from one and only Islamic leader for us: HARUN YAHYAMi mlad/mlada Bosanski Musliman/Muslimanka citamo i naucimo Islam od jednog i jedinoga predvodniku za nas: HARUN YAHYA

Posted by Mina Bosnia | Report as abusive

may Allah bless the respectfull Fethullah Gulen for the greatest action in Islam world ,

Posted by Babur JAMAL | Report as abusive

Adnan Oktar most important intellectual with his ability to change Darwinist and materialist system in the world. with his 300 books he is unsupassed.

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive

f u want to know about history, about science about what other people have said then look elsewhere, but if you want to know what GOD has said about Himself and about YOU then you can find out in Mohammad Shaikhs lectures, which is why he is number 1 because his lectures affects every single individuals on the planet.

Posted by khan | Report as abusive

vote for Fethullah GULEN please

Posted by Babur JAMAL | Report as abusive

A reminder to those questioning the results of this poll — Reuters does not control this poll and cannot change it once it has begun operating. It was generated by twiigs.com and runs on their server. The fact that votes are submitted with different names or spellings (Harun Yahya/Adnan Oktar or Gulen/Gülen) means they get split — the computer can’t decide that, in both cases, these are one person rather than two. Anyway, the results are clearly being skewed by readers who’ve written bots to bombard the site with votes.

Mohammad Shaikh is the only one who describes the ESSENCE of the Quran, and Quran is accepted by EVERY MUSLIM, therefore Mohammad shaikh is the MOST influential because his lectures touch every Muslim. watch and share on http://www.iipctube.com

Adnan Oktar Harun Yahya is the only person who leads to the Islamic world. His books, his ideas , cds have already been a leader to the Islamic world. Moreover, he is modern carismatic and intelligent, kind, sincere, good looking and charming person. Islam needs a leader like Adnan Oktar- And, he resembles the attributes of Mahdi, very surprisingly

Posted by m.syd | Report as abusive

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi al HaqqaniShaykh Hisham Kabbani

Posted by Suntan Hidayat | Report as abusive

I vote for Fathullah Gulaen

Posted by per | Report as abusive