Cii News | 27 November 2013/23 Muharram 1435

The fifth annual issue of The Muslim 500, a listing of the world’s ‘most influential Muslims’ has been released by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Jordan.

The publication sets out to ascertain the influence some Muslims have on the Muslim community, or on behalf of it, either positively or negatively.

As in previous years, the prestigious Top 50 positions on the list are dominated by religious scholars and heads of state. According to the publishers, the dominant and lasting influence of these players cannot be denied, especially the rulers, who in many cases also appoint religious scholars to their respective positions.

2013′s top position was scooped by Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad Al-Tayyeb, the Grand Sheikh of the Al Azhar University for what Muslim 500 said was the prominent role played by him in Egypt’s troubled democratic transition. Al-Tayyeb was followed closely on the listing by Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud and Iranian Grand Leader Ayatollah  Sayyid Ali Khamenei.

Reflective of the wider trajectory of the Arab Spring, this year’s list shows a decline in influence from Muslim Brotherhood associated figures Dr Mohammed Badie, Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi and ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Coup kingpin General Abdel Fattah Saeed Al-Sisi who was previously unlisted now ranks at 29.

Muslim 500′s Honourable Mentions section also sees the listing of popular Saudi Aalim Sheikh Mohammed al Arifi and singers Maher Zain and Sami Yusuf.

Nine South Africans feature on this year’s list. They are cricketer Hashim Amla, Nasheed artist Zain Bhikha, Mufti Ebrahim Desai, Professor Farid Essack, Ferial Haffejee, Moulana Igsaan Hendricks, Sheikh Seraj Hendricks, Minister Ebrahim Patel and Dr Imtiaz Sooliman.

Other noteworthy entries:

Fethullah Gülen: preacher, thinker and educator, who having assumed the leadership of the Nurcu religious movement—started by Said Nursî (1887- 1960CE) — has gone on to become a global phenomenon in his own right.

Amir Hajji Muhammad Abd Al Wahhab: Amir of Tablighi Jamaat, Pakistan

Sheikh Salman Al Ouda: Saudi Aalim who has become increasingly influential due to his innovative reach in the Muslim world propagated via and his persistent efforts at ministering to the needs of the global Muslim community

Mufti Muhammad Akhtar Raza Khan Qaadiri Al Azhari: great-grandson and successor of one of Moulana Ahmad Raza Khan

Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani: leading scholar of Islamic jurisprudence

Sheikh Mohammad Ali Al Sabouni: internationally respected Islamic scholar of tafsir

Habib Umar bin Hafiz: Popular spiritual guide from Yemen

Sheikh Dr Yusuf Al Qaradawi: Head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars

Maulana Mahmood Madani: Leader and Executive Member of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, India

Uthman Taha: internationally acclaimed Arabic calligrapher

Sheikh Mahmud Effendi: one of the most popular Islamic teachers in Turkey today

Sheikhul Hadith Maulana Yusuf Motala: Founder of the Dar ul Ulum Al-Arabia Al-Ilamia in Holcombe, Bury, Lancashire

Sheikh Muhammad bin Yahya Al-Husayni al Ninowy: imam of Masjid Al-Madinah
in Atlanta, Georgia and is considered by many to be a charismatic and influential contemporary scholar.

Mufti Ismail Musa Menk: Director of the Daarul Ilm (Islamic Educational Centre) of the Majlisul Ulama, Zimbabwe, and world renowned orator

Maulana Shakir Ali Noorie: President of Sunni Dawate Islami (a non-political religious organization) in Mumbai, India

Mawlana Saleemullah Khan: Sheikh al-Hadith (seniormost Hadith lecturer) at Jamia Farooqia in Pakistan

Sheikh Zulfiqar Ahmed: World renowned Sheikh of Tasawwuf

Sheikh Muhammad Ilyas Attar Attari: Founder of Dawat e Islami

Maulana Tariq Jameel: Prominent leader of Tablighi Jamaat

Wadah Khanfar: Former Al Jazeera Director General

Mohammad Ali Harrath: Founder of Islam Channel

Zaid Hamid: One of the most influential television personalities in Pakistan

Yahya Toure: One of the world’s best footballers who currently plays for Manchester City