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/

Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

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As we see that according to the results, Adnan Oktar is 1st, Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil Al Qubrusi Al Haqqani is 2nd, Shaykh Hisham Kabbani is 3rd and Mohammad Shaikh is 4th and Fetehullah Gulen is on 5th position. However, I view they are all distinguished personlalities under the “Umbrella of Islam” & their works are chapters on leading Muslims in different fields like:1. HAROON YAHYA RANKS 1ST IN MAKING VARIOUS SCIENTIFIC ISLAMIC DOCUMENTARIES.2. SHEIKH MEHMET NAZIM ADIL QUBRUSI, & HIS FOLLOWER SHEIKH HASHIM KABBANI, RANKS 1ST & 2ND IN SUFISM THE NAQSHBANDI SUFI WAY IS THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE FOR EAST AND WEST.3. MOHAMMAD SHAIKH RANKS 1ST IS UNIQUE IN PRESENTING THE RELEVANT AYAATS / ON VARIOUS TOPICS FROM AL-QUR’AN & CLARIFYING THE HOLY TRUSTWORTHY SPIRIT/ESSENCE IN ENGLISH & URDU4. FINALLY FETEHULLAH GULLEN RANKS 1ST AS A “PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL” IN FORIGN POLICY.JazakAllah (May Allah Bless Them All)http://www.iipc.tvhttp://www.iipctub e.comhttp://www.youtube.com/iipctvadminh ttp://www.iipctalk.com

Fethullah Gülen

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Shakh Hisham Kabbani

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Shakh Hisham Kabbani

mr.Fethullah Gülen is knowen by all of the world.falovers of are very k?nd and helpfull

? know h?m that the world needs him

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Fethullah Gülen

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M.Fettullah Gülen

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Fethullah Gülen is the best …

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Gulen Twits:http://twitter.com/mfgulenVideo summarizes a trip to Gulen community. Informative.http://www.guardian.co.uk/wo rld/audio/20 08/jun/23/turkeyInteresting article about Gulen in NY Times.http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/ world/ asia/04islam.htmlhttp://www.nytimes.com/ 2008/01/18/world/ europe/18iht-19oxan-Turkishpreacherprofi le.9324128.htmlhttp://www.fethullahgulen forum.org/

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Shaykh Dr Prof Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri

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Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil Al Qubrusi Al Haqqani

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Posted by FATMA HACIOSMANO?LU | Report as abusive


Posted by AZ?Z HACIOSMANO?LU | Report as abusive

it’s the best and utile personnage

harun yahya is perfect person!..

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Posted by yusuf | Report as abusive

SALAAM/PEACE I THANK ALLAH/GOD AND THOSE BROTHERS & SISTERS WHO VOTED FOR ME IN ACHIEVING THE 4TH RANK IN THE POLL OF “WHO IS THE MOST INFLUENTIAL MUSLIM IN THE WORLD” 2010,I CONGRATULATE ALL THE MUSLIM SCHOLARS WHO PARTICIPATED AND ADMIRE FOR THEIR COURAGE,TO BE PERSISTENT IN THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS & WORKS WHICH ARE FOR MORE THAN THIS POLL AND I THANK THEIR FOLLOWERS WHO SUPPORTED THEM WITH SUCH DEDICATION,WE ALL MUSLIMS TOGETHER THANK THOSE WHO MADE THIS POLL A SUCCESS IN UNITING,SIGHTING THOSE WHO WERE NOT IN THE BOOK OF 2019,FINALLY I WOULD REMIND ALL BY THESE AYAATS/VERSES FOR OUR GUIDANCE & A REMINDER.NASR.110:1-4 When comes the Help of God, and Victory, And you see the people enter God’s judgment in troops Celebrate the praises of your Lord, and seek for His Forgiveness, For He is Oft-Returning.May Allah guide us to the straight path.AmeenMOHAMMAD SHAIKHhttp://www.facebook.com/pages/Moha mmad-Shaikh/116026672247http://www.faceb ook.com/pages/Mohammad-Shaikh/116026672… http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mohammad-S haikh/116026672…http://www.facebook.com/ group.php?gid=44374398688&ref=nfhttp://w ww.iipc.tv/index.php?option=com_content& view=ar…http://www.iipc.tvhttp://www.iip ctv.comhttp://www.iipctube.comhttp://www .youtube.com/iipctvadminhttp://www.iipct alk.com

Fethullah Gülen

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Fethullah Gülen

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Why I think Mohammad Shaikh should be in the list?. Mohammad Shaikh is the first scholar in recent history who has established a perspective that is very unique. He is the only one who uses the Quran alone to use as evidence to make a point without any historical taint. I believe he does this because Quran is the only BOOK (according to the Quran and muslims) which is completely free of any errors, whilst every other book and references (including historical record) is in contradiction with itself. Even the most ardent believers of Quran Alone from time to time rely on history to explain the ayat, while Mohammad Shaikh in all his lectures and commentaries uses ONLY the Quranic verses to explain another Quranic verse. I urge the editor of this list to verify this and to include Mohammad Shaikh in the list because of this simple fact that he is the only one who uses the Quran ITSELF to explain another part or verse of the Quran, and does not rely on any other text or records, which has resulted in over 40 VDO lectures with very surprising conclusions relevant to all Muslims… http://www.iipc.tv has all the lectures available for your verification

?eyh Mehmet Nazim Adil Al Qubrusi Al Hakkani

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Grand Ayatollah Hajj Sayyid Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran

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Fethullah Gülen

Fethullah Gülen

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All these scholars had great impact on 20-21st centuries’ world. According to me Adnan Oktar deserves the title of “the most influential Muslim Leader”. Because he shows us the importance of spending effort in the way of Allah by means of whatever you can afford. He does this by publishing books, sending them to world authorities, giving interviews, conferences etc. He goes for changing peoples mind and the world. Of course his success is only with the Will Of Almighty Allah. With his sincere efforts Adnan Oktar is a role model for us.We Muslims should be more enthusiastic, should be more eager and should work harder for Allah, which is the real aim of our lives.

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Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi al Haqqani

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Best Scholar in this worldBrother Muhammad Shaikh

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Muhammad Shaikh

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The Maulana shaikh Nazim Adil Haqqani and Mualana Hissam Kabbani are the most influntial personalities in the world today becoz the way they are propgating islam in its true colours and without any hypocracy and vested interest. Ajaz Andrabi from Kashmir Dy. Registrar

Fethullah Gülen

Sheikh Mehmet Nazim Adil al Qubrusi al Haqqani

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Adnan Oktar

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Fethullah Gülen



I think u have no right to say about our beloved Dr.Qadeer Khan(proud of Muslim Nation);seller of nuclear program to others,its a bleam on him. and also he is thousand times better to your 500 persons. what is the work of these so called muslims leader. they are not real leader of nation actually they are friends of non muslims and working for them.2

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Sheikh Mehmet Nazim al qubrusi al Haqqani & Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

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Most Arab Leaders are influencial in terrorising their people, stealing their countries resources, driving their people into a dire poverty, and killing innocent men, women and children!Arab leaders are the worst criminals on this earth, they have blood on their hands and should be brought to justice and hold accountable for the lack of democracy, lack of human right, lack of respect, lack of opportunities, lack of food, lack of jobs, lack of equality in their countries!Jaz

Posted by Jazmine Waller | Report as abusive

This is a uniquely absurd list, I found this news item most appropriate in understanding what is really going on here: King Abdullah “Overjoyed” About Being Named Most Influential Muslim in the World http://wp.me/pIP1s-6

Hi , I am Iranian and know Ayatollah Khamenei & Khomeinei which both of them destroyed Islam , killed their people and found a totalitarian regime in our country under name of Islam so as my opinion they are the worst in muslim world.

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In a world where its very easy to manipulate people with little understanding in one direction or another, I have found Mohammad Shaikhs lectures to be extremely relevant to whats happening in the Muslim world. His lectures on Terrorism, Killing, Jehad / Jihad / Strive, War and Kaba (house of God) & Qibla (direction of belief), give the true Muslims the evidence and spiritual armament to fight those people (on two sides) who are using Islam (for and against) to meet their political goals, by playing on the emotions of the innocent and uneducated, both sides are using issues like Jerusalem and other issues to stir up people to fight against each other and shed blood to achieve a political end. Mohammad Shaikhs lecture has the widest implication for all Muslims and non Muslims, as it shows the path of peace / Islam can never be achieved with a sword…if you want an answer on how to deal with issues you see on television daily (bombs and wars and killing while taking the name of Islam) watch Mohammad Shaikhs lectures and find out where the real enemy is and how to identify those who have been waging wars in all times, and how Muslims can remain in Peace (not war) according to evidences from the Quran, the highest authority for all Muslims…www.iipc.tv to watch the eye opening and mind blowing lectures and

Dear All,all the muslim leaders have tried their best to be the best but i would say after H H sheikh Zayed and H H sheikh Rasid, H H sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid is the best amoung muslim leaders in the islamic world. and i am sure if he has been given a chance to lead the muslims then there will be nothing else than peace.rgds,javed

Posted by javed abbasi | Report as abusive

Mohammad Sheikh

I think the most influential Muslim in the world? is Dr. Zakir Naik. I vote him because he is the muslim know well Al-Qur’an, Hadeeth, Christology and many kinds religion in the world, he is the true Da’i and always convey to the muslim especially the non-muslims people to embrace Islam.Muhamad Umar ChatabJakarta (Indonesia)

his name is ATATURK.he is the nightmare of evil imperialists; including all the above in the list

Posted by FENASI KERIM | Report as abusive

Dr.Abdul qadeer khan has been ranked 46th whereas actually he stands taller of all other so called leaders with noPersonal sacrifice , contribution and effect on the human lives as by Mohtram Abdu qadeer on saving 160 million people from enemmies.This ranking is not correct as beneficiary and admirer of this saviour are uneducated and thus less vocal or presnt on such polls.Pakistani admire him , love him regard him high out of no fear ,gread or personal benefit.He sold technology or not but why not you punish european scientist who helped other countries without any real need but money and power.

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