CAIRO – Celebrating their achievements, Time magazine has named several Muslim leaders and icons in its 2015 list of The 100 Most Influential People in the World.
The annual list showcases five categories; Titans, Pioneers, Artists, Leaders and Icons.
Muslim leaders like Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia were named by the Time.
Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi were also included in the list.
Influential Muslim women like Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai and Afghanistan’s first lady, Rula Ghani, were also mentioned for their crucial lure in championing education and women’s rights.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari
In his fourth attempt in the race for presidency, retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari, 72, was declared as the new Nigerian president after a closely fought election in March 2015, becoming the first Nigerian to oust a president through the ballot box.
The former military ruler won a rare reputation as a fighter against corruption during his short term as Head of State from 1983 to 1985, after taking power in a military coup d’état.
Most Nigerians agree he did not use the presidency to enrich himself and his backers. His iron-fisted administration jailed several politicians on graft charges.
“From battling the Boko Haram insurgency to tackling endemic corruption, Buhari has many challenges ahead,” stated Time Africa’s bureau chief, Aryn Baker.
Malala Yousafzai, known the world-over simply as “Malala” and, as a symbol of girls’ struggle for education rose to fame in 2009 for her anti-Taliban blog billed as “Gul Makai (cornflower) for BBC against Taliban when she was merely 11.
The 17-year-old girl stole international attention in 2012 after she was shot by Taliban militants over her campaign to encourage more girls to go to school in Pakistan.
In October 2014, the Pakistani activist shared the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with the Indian Children’s right advocate and activist against child labor, Kailash Satyarthi, becoming the youngest ever Nobel laureate.
In April 2015, an asteroid was named after the Muslim girl by a NASA astronomer who decided to attach her name to the planet he discovered five years ago to honor the young Muslim pioneer.
“Malala has shown that education is crucial for laying a foundation for girls and boys to have secure lives,” Mezon Almellehan, a 16-year-old student, education activist and Syrian refugee in Jordan, wrote about Malala. “Education is the only way to regain our spirit and control over our lives.”
It is the third consecutive year that Malala has been included in the annual list.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo
Joko Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, was sworn in as the newly elected President of Indonesian in October 2014.
Although there was a bit of controversy regarding the outcome of the July 9 election, Jokowi, 62, was named as president-elect on 22 July 2014.
The former Jakarta governor won a narrow victory over the 62-year-old ex-general Prabowo, making him a new star for Indonesians.
In his race for the presidency, the Indonesian Democratic Party – Struggle (PDI-P) candidate, Jokowi, has sowed hopes among Indonesians through his promises of a “new, clean leadership that consolidates democracy”.
Since taking office, President Widodo has “brought youthful energy and a popular touch to his large and diverse nation- the world’s fourth most populous- and home to the largest Muslim population of any country,” Paul Wolfowitz, former president of the World Bank and former U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, told Time.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 79, was announced as the new Saudi king last January after the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud. Prince Muqrin Bin Abdulaziz became the new crown prince.
The new King is Abdullah’s third heir to the throne who was named crown prince in June 2012 after two elder brothers died in late 2011 and mid-2012.
Being a longtime governor of the capital Riyadh, Salman has a reputation as a progressive and practical prince similar in bearing to his late brother.
“King Salman carries with him the best traditions of leadership and stands uniquely qualified to lead the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia toward the future,” King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.