The Most Influential Muslims of All Time

The Most Influential Muslims of All Time

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.

  1. The person must have been Muslim (Sunni or Shiite).
  2. 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:

  1. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him)
  2. Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him)
  3. Umar ibn Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him)
  4. Uthman ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him)
  5. Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him)
  6. Fatima bint Muhammad (may Allah be pleased with her)
  7. Aisha bint Abi Bakr (may Allah be pleased with her)
  8. Imam Malik (may Allah have mercy on him)
  9. Imam Abu Hanifa (may Allah have mercy on him)
  10. Imam Shafi (may Allah have mercy on him)
  11. Imam Hanbali (may Allah have mercy on him)
  12. Imam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him)
  13. Imam Muslim (may Allah have mercy on him)
  14. Salahuddin Al Ayyubi (may Allah have mercy on him)
  15. King Faisal ibn Abdul Aziz
  16. Ayatollah Khomeini
  17. Gamal Abdel Nasser
  18. Malcolm X

Do you have any other suggestions that I may have left out? If so, please let me know.

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26 Responses to The Most Influential Muslims of All Time

    • Thanks, I’ll consider them both. Rumi I’ve heard of. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan I haven’t, so I’ll have to do some research.

  1. How about adding the 2 great Pakistanis , that are Allama Iqbal who is , known as the poet of the East , a person who is considered to have provided great services for Islam by Many especially in Pakistan & India where more than 1/5 of the Muslim population lives , than The founder of Pakistan Qauid-e-Azam Muhammad ALi Jinnah , a leader declared as Max Weber List of Charismatic leaders , the person who founded the only country in the name of Islam , one of the greatest lawyers of Indian History , a person who made country get independence in just a span of 7 years when it seemed completely impossible even than it was created , Think of it Brp

    • Muhammad Ali Jinnah certainly deserves to be on the list; no doubt about it. I’ve heard of Allama Iqbal but not very familiar with his life or works. I’ll have to do more research on him.

  2. You have lest a lot of great muslims from this list…there are so many Sahabas that are missing… Abdur Rehman Bin Awf, Bilal Habshi, Zayd Bin Thabit, Abu Hurairah, Saad ibn Muwad, Anab ibn Malik, and the list goes on, may Allah have mercy on all of them.

    and You should include Ibn Tayimiyah , Ibn Katheer, Ibn Qayyum, Muhammad bin Abdul Wahab, Nassir ud din Albani,

    please review you list….there are lots of great great muslims missing…

    • As-Salaamu Alaikum Wajih Naeem,

      You are right, there are a lot of Sahabah that belong on this list. My dilemma was that I wanted to include more recent Muslims yet still keep the list fairly short. If I include every great Sahaba and scholar from the first 3 generations, there would be no room for anyone else.

      If you have any suggestions on how to deal with this, I’d be happy to hear them.

  3. I dont think anyone who support american attack of another muslim state should be on the list. The Prophet (P.B.O.H) will be shaking his head for the way Saudi Arabia is been govern the country should have remain neutral after all it is the holy land on Muslim all over the world.

    • The only Saudi I have here is King Faisal who initiated the oil blockade against the US back in the 70’s due to their support of Israel. I disagree with many of Saudi Arabia’s policies also, but King Faisal was one who was willing to stand against the US using whatever leverage he had.

  4. Salaam good list. I would put ummul muhmineen Aisha ( may allah be pleased with her) higher than Fatima( my allah be pleased with her) because we got a lot of fiqh and hadiths from her, especially about Rasool Allah’s private life. She was a Faqi, a scholar, and a narrator of a great number of important hadits. Khaled ibn waleed is missing from the list. Imam Ibn Wahab, Ibn Tamiya,

    • Wa Alaikum Salaam,

      I agree with you on a lot of your points. I really wanted to include more Sahabahs but had I done so, there would have been no room for modern Muslims.

      I’m surprised I didn’t include Khalid Ibn Waleed myself. I may have to revise this list someday.

  5. Al-Kkhomeni? The queer of Iran? Excuse my language but what the fuck were you smoking while preparing this list? I am Egyptian and I almost snorted (only Egyptians would understand what that would have meant if I had) when I read this ridicilous list. And Abdelnasser? The guy that continued the fight against the Muslim-Brotherhood in Egypt?

    Ok, I think I’ve mocked your thread enough. Now is time to give you a couple of advices; firstly, please read more about the figures you, independently, decide to be one of the most influential figures to over 1 Billion Muslims. Secondly, when you’re sincerely trying to make a list of the most influential figures of a certain population, try not to add certain figures, that obviously do not belong there, merely to satisfy all the sects of that population with your list. And finally, there are no fucking sects in Islam; no Sunnah or Shites. A Muslim is whoever follows the Qura’an and whatever the Prophet said. Fullstop.

    Damn.. Why do people insist, with their stupidity, to make me break my fast. Please Muslims, get smarter ffs. You’re going to need it in the coming times.

    • I can tell from your comment on this page that you are an arrogant know-it-all. This comment proves me right.

      First of all, you and anyone else has a right to disagree with the individuals on this list. That’s fine. We’re all entitled to our opinions.

      Second, it doesn’t seem as if you understand the meaning of “influential.”

      Having great influence on someone or something.
      powerful – important – weighty

      Does this help any? This is not a list of the best Muslims. Or the greatest Muslims. Or the Muslims we should all strive to be like.

      This is a list of Muslims who have influenced the world of Islam and world events.

      And whether you like Khomeini or Abdelnasser, they have influenced world events.

      Khomeini’s revolution led to the downfall of the Carter Presidency, the U.S. supporting dictators in Muslim countries, and the rise of many quasi-Islamic militant groups including Hezbollah and others.

      As for Abdelnasser, he heavily promoted pan-Arabism which helped influence the Arab world to go to war against Israel to help their Arab (not Muslim) brethren in Palestine. These wars, in which the Arab countries (yours included) got their butts handed to them three times by Israel, enforced the idea that Israel was unbeatable. This also led to these same Arab countries (yours included) signing peace treaties with Israel and solidified the rule of several dictators.

      This same political ideology has led to the formation of the Ba’ath party and the rise of several dictators including Sadam Hussein and the Assad family.

      With all this, how can anyone say Gamal AbdelNasser was not influential?

      Finally, it’s Ramadan. For you holier-than-thou statements, you don’t seem to be able to control yourself. You’re cursing and acting crazy during the month we’re supposed to be trying to get closer to Allah.

      And then you have the nerve (or lack of it) to blame your immature rants on a post written over two years ago!

      Fear Allah. Grow up. Get over yourself. And go study your history. I live all the way in America and I seem to know more about it than you do.

      • Ok, as for Khoemani, this should suffice for his case:

        A fatwa by him:

        “A man can marry a girl younger than nine years of age, even if the girl is still a baby being breastfed. A man, however is prohibited from having intercourse with a girl younger than nine, other sexual acts such as foreplay, rubbing, kissing and sodomy is allowed. A man having intercourse with a girl younger than nine years of age has not committed a crime, but only an infraction, if the girl is not permanently damaged. If the girl, however, is permanently damaged, the man must provide for her all her life. But this girl will not count as one of the man’s four permanent wives. He also is not permitted to marry the girl’s sister.”

        And some other writing for him:

        “A man can have sex with sheep, cows and camels and so on. However, he should kill the animal after he has his orgasm. He should not sell the meat to the people in his own village; however, selling the meat to the next door village should be fine.”

        “If one commits the act of sodomy with a cow, a ewe, or a camel, their urine and their excrement become impure, and even their milk may no longer be consumed. The animal must then be killed and as quickly as possible and burned.”

        Khomeini’s “Tahrirolvasyleh” fourth volume, Darol Elm, Gom, Iran, 1990

        And there is alot more that I decided that it was just not worth the time to be wasted on. And if you’re going to accuse me of making this up, please try to atleast do some research.

        And now for Abdelnasser, here is a piece of text from the very same source of which you had ‘studied’ your figures, the Wikipedia:

        “In July 1952, Egypt’s pro-Western government was overthrown by the nationalist Free Officers Movement headed by Gamal Abdel Nasser. Both Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood welcomed the coup against the monarchist government — which they saw as un-Islamic and subservient to British imperialism — and enjoyed a close relationship with the movement prior to and immediately following the coup. Nasser would go the house of Syed Qutb and ask him for ideas about the Revolution.[citation needed] Many members of the Brotherhood expected Nasser to establish an Islamic government. However, the cooperation between the Brotherhood and Free Officers which marked the revolution’s success soon soured as it became clear the secular nationalist ideology of Nasserism was incompatible with the Islamism of the Brotherhood.

        Nasser had secretly set up an organisation that would sufficiently oppose the Muslim Brotherhood once he came to power. This organisation was called “Tahreer’ (“freedom” in Arabic). It was well known that the Brotherhood were made popular by their extensive social programs in Egypt, and Nasser wanted to be ready once he had taken over. At this time, Qutb did not realize Nasser’s alternate plans, and would continue to meet with him, sometimes for 12 hours a day,[37] to discuss a post monarch Egypt. Once Qutb realized that Nasser had taken advantage of the secrecy between the Free Officers and the Brotherhood, he promptly quit. Nasser then tried to persuade Qutb by offering him any position he wanted in Egypt except its Kingship, saying:

        “We will give you whatever position you want in the government, whether it’s the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Arts, etc.”[38]

        Qutb refused every offer, having understood the reality of Nasser’s plans.

        After the attempted assassination of Nasser in 1954, the Egyptian government used the incident to justify a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, imprisoning Qutb and many others for their vocal opposition to various government policies. During his first three years in prison, conditions were bad and Qutb was tortured. In later years he was allowed more mobility, including the opportunity to write.[39]”

        This was Under Sayyid Qutb’s Biography.

        And there is also more to prove Abdelnasser’s corrupeted Idealogy, which I also feel like looking for it doesn’t deserve my time. But I will tell you this one last thing, ask any Egyptian how Egypt as a country was before Abdelnasser and how it became after him. And incase you can’t find any Egyptians to ask, try looking for pics and stats.

        So… I guess you’re the one that misunderstood what being influential actually means. It’s either that or I have mistaken your type of influence as only positive, as people like Khoemeni and Abdelnasser are obviously ones of the most Corruptly-Influential “Muslims”.

        And the reason I’m actually writing any of this is not to oppose you or your opinion but rather only to prevent any new or ignorant Muslims or Non-Muslims from misunderstanding Islam. I really wished you’d read any of those accusations directed at Islam, supported by some of the retarted fatwas of Khoemeni. Only then, would you have understood what I’m trying to prevent here.

        • Make up your mind.

          And the reason I’m actually writing any of this is not to oppose you or your opinion but rather only to prevent any new or ignorant Muslims or Non-Muslims from misunderstanding Islam.

          However, in your previous post you said the following:

          Excuse my language but what the fuck were you smoking while preparing this list?

          And finally, there are no fucking sects in Islam;

          It’s Ramadan and you’re on an Islamic blog cursing another Muslim and talking about how you don’t want to oppose my opinion and you want to prevent new and ignorant Muslims from misunderstanding Islam?

          You are the one who’s going to hurt the message of Islam with your immature and disgusting manner of arguing. If you disagree with something I wrote, you can simply state your case and your argument without cursing, demeaning and talking like you’re better than everyone else.

          So… I guess you’re the one that misunderstood what being influential actually means.

          Maybe you didn’t see the definition I put up earlier. In case you suffer from short term memory loss, here it is again:

          Having great influence on someone or something.
          powerful – important – weighty

          What? Are you such a know-it-all you understand the English language better than Websters?

          No dude. I did not misunderstand what “influential” meant. I made this list according to the definition that most people understand it to be.

          YOU ran off with some crazy “positive influential” definition that you made up on your own.

          Once again…get over yourself and stop blaming other people. YOU were wrong.

          • You were wrong in your understanding of “influential.”
          • You were wrong in your manner of disagreement.
          • And you were wrong to think I was gonna let you say whatever you want on this website without checking you.
  6. No offense intended, but the last 4 on your last are quite disparaging to those above it. I am curious why you have not included even one Islamic scientist of philosopher?

    People like Ibn Sina, Rumi, Ghazali, Al Khwarizimi, and on and on.

    You’ve also missed Allama Iqbal who influenced many, many leaders around the Muslim world.

    You’ve decided to include modern day leaders like Nasser and King Faisal, while excluding people like Taimur and Ottoman emperors like Suleiman or Mehmet II (conquerer of Istanbul).

    This list does not seem well thought out.

    Why do you think that Ali (ra) had less of an impact than Uthman? Uthman (ra) wasn’t even buried in a Muslim cemetery until the Ottomans conquered the Hijaz. Not criticizing more curious, and I am Sunni.

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