AMMAN – The annual list of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims has been released, putting religious leaders and heads of states at the top 50 of those affecting their community.
This list “sets out to ascertain the influence some Muslims have on this community, or on behalf of the community,” according to the publication’s foreword.
“Influence is: any person who has the power (be it cultural, ideological, financial, political or otherwise) to make a change that will have a significant impact on the Muslim world.”
The publishers added that this influence could be either negative or positive.
“The selection of people for this publication in no way means that we endorse their views; rather we are simply trying to measure their influence,” it says.
“The influence can be of a religious scholar directly addressing Muslims and influencing their beliefs, ideas and behavior, or it can be of a ruler shaping the socio-economic factors within which people live their lives, or of artists shaping popular culture.”
Therefore, “The first two examples also point to the fact that the lists, and especially the Top 50, are dominated by religious scholars and heads of state.”
“Their dominant and lasting influence cannot be denied, especially the rulers, who in many cases also appoint religious scholars to their respective positions,” according to the publication’s website.
Formally released on Thursday, the annual “The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims” listed 13 criteria, including scholarly, political, administration of religious affairs, preachers and spiritual guides, philanthropy/charity and development, social issues, business, science and technology, arts and culture, Qur’an reciters, media, celebrities, and sports stars.
The publication lists Professor Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad Al-Tayyeb, the Grand Sheikh of the Al-Azhar University and Grand Imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque, as number one, retaining his 2017 position.
King Salman Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia however emerged as the second pushing King Abdullah Al-Hussein of Jordan to the third position. The Jordanian King was number one in 2016.
The Iranian Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Hajj Sayyid Ali Khamenei and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came fourth and fifth respectively.
Woman/Man of the Year
For the first time, the 2018-edition started a new tradition to honor the Muslim man/woman of the year.
For the Muslim Woman of the Year, the title went to Nawal al-Soufi, who was born in Morocco and raised in Catania, Italy.
“She is a known to those Syrians who have fled the horrors of war and other highly oppressive circumstances—often in the most difficult and dangerous situations—as ‘The Angel of Refugees.’ In the past few years, it is estimated she has helped save the lives of 200,000 Syrian refugees,” the publication read.
Meanwhile, the Muslim 500’s Man of the Year is Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of London.
“Not only is he the first Muslim Mayor of a major European capital, but in his successful campaign for Mayor, he took 57 percent of the vote which totaled 1,310,143 voters giving him the largest personal mandate of any politician in UK history in which he pledged to be the Mayor for all Londoners,” the publication read.
“Since being in office, he has frozen fares on the London tube and introduced the hopper bus ticket allowing London’s commuters to take two bus rides for the cost of one.
According to the publication, Khan is also implementing an “ambitious affordable housing program.” These changes come as “welcome reforms for financially stressed Londoners in a city that has become increasingly too expensive for any but the well-to-do.”