America Has the Most Influential Muslims in the World

By Festival of Faiths from Louisville, United States [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Festival of Faiths from Louisville, United States [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the world, 40 hail from America.

Even if it is not a Muslim or Muslim-majority country, the United States is home to the largest number of influential Muslims across the world. This is according to the recently released list of The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims.

For three straight years now, the U.S. ranked number one with 40 influential Muslim figures. Pakistan came next with 33, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has 32, Egypt 27 and another non-Muslim country, the United Kingdom has 27.

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The Muslim 500 list is a project or yearly compiled by the Jordanian organization Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center. The annual list which is now on its seventh year of publication aims to “shed some light on the many challenges and pioneering triumphs that are present at the very crux of shaping the Muslim community.”

To be included in the list, the public figure should demonstrate a degree of influence or the power to make “a significant impact on the Muslim world.” The ranking of the top 500 is further divided into 13 categories from politics and business up to mass media, culture and arts, religion, social service and other fields.

The list’s top 5 or those considered the most influential among all include; King Abdullah of Jordan in the number one spot, Ahmed el-Tayeb of Egypt came in second, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was ranked third, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was ranked fourth and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI was fifth on the list.

Highlighted in the list are the top 50 Muslim figures. But amidst the high number of representatives, there are only two Muslim Americans who made it to the top 50; Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson, the co-founder of Zaytuna College in Berkeley and Seyyed Hossein Nasr of the George Washington University.

Professor Ebrahim Moosa of the University of Notre Dame who is also part of the list says that although American’s top the list in terms of percentage, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Muslim Americans are becoming influential. According to Moosa “ I don’t think Muslim Americans are becoming more influential, but some people are taking note of the achievements of Muslim Americans.” But nonetheless, the rankings clearly show the growing presence of Americans when it comes to global Muslim affairs.

Other notable Muslim Americans in the list include Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association in New York, Farhana Khera, authors Laila Lalami and Khalid Hosseini, Nihad Awad of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Fareed Zakaria of CNN, Imam Mohamed Magid of the Islamic Society of North America, U.S. Representatives Andre Carson and Keith Ellison and the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.


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