I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a long time, but never got around to doing it. Inshallah, this week begins the start of a new project.
I first thought about creating a list of the most influential Muslims several years ago when I read a Time (or Newsweek, I forget) magazine article about the most influential people of the year (I think it was 2003).
There weren’t too many Muslims on that list, of course. But I was most shocked to see that Murtad Ayaan Hirsi Ali on that list. How on earth does a woman whose only claim to fame is leaving Islam, become one of the most influential people on the planet? What has she done that was so great?
Besides herself, who has she helped? Who benefits from her writings, beside herself and her publisher? Besides, I bet most people in the world have probably never even heard of her. This list upset me very much as it showed a great imbalance of bias towards Muslims.
There are many Muslims, even here in America, who hold more sway over others than Ayaan Hirsi Ali ever could. Anyway, that’s enough ranting for now. After seeing that list I decided it was time to create my own list of the most influential Muslims.
But I didn’t want to use people who were popular or in power at the moment. I wanted to use historical figures. I wanted to create a list of the most influential Muslims of all time.
My criteria for inclusion in this list are quite simple.
- The person must have been Muslim (Sunni or Shiite).
- And they must be dead.
Therefore, people who belonged to heretical sects like the Ahmadiyyahs or Nation of Islam would not be included. And the person must be dead so we know that he or she died while still Muslim.
Though unlikely, I wanted to avoid the possibility of including someone on this list who might leave Islam later in life. This list is far from complete, but here are the names I’ve compiled so far:
- Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him)
- Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him)
- Umar ibn Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him)
- Uthman ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him)
- Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him)
- Fatima bint Muhammad (may Allah be pleased with her)
- Aisha bint Abi Bakr (may Allah be pleased with her)
- Imam Malik (may Allah have mercy on him)
- Imam Abu Hanifa (may Allah have mercy on him)
- Imam Shafi (may Allah have mercy on him)
- Imam Hanbali (may Allah have mercy on him)
- Imam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him)
- Imam Muslim (may Allah have mercy on him)
- Salahuddin Al Ayyubi (may Allah have mercy on him)
- King Faisal ibn Abdul Aziz
- Ayatollah Khomeini
- Gamal Abdel Nasser
- Malcolm X
Do you have any other suggestions that I may have left out? If so, please let me know.