Every year since 2009, ‘The 500 Most Influential Muslims’ (‘The Muslim 500’) has been published. It ranks the most influential Muslims in the world. Politics, sports, science, culture and religious achievements are just some of the areas in which the world’s most successful and influential Muslims are ranked. It is based on expert surveys, which makes it possible to remain more objective and assess the contribution of Muslims from various continents to the common cause.
The list is produced by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan, and is annually released in collaboration with the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in the United States.
This year, Tamim bin Hamid Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, ranked first. The top 10 included King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, King of Jordan Abdullah II, Pakistani scholar Muhammad Taqi Usmani, King of Morocco Mohammed VI, Crown Prince of the UAE Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Iraqi cleric Ali Al-Sistani and Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan.
Of the CIS leaders, the top 500 included President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Head of the Council of Ulema of Tajikistan Sayidmukarram Abdulkodirzoda, deceased Mufti of Uzbekistan Usmon Alimov. Among sportsmen there was Egyptian and English Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah, Turkish footballer Mesut Ozil and boxer Mike Tyson.
It is noteworthy that this year’s list of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims included three Muslims – mixed martial artist Khabib Nurmagomedov, President of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov and Mufti Ravil Gaynutdin.
Khabib Nurmagomedov/Press Service of the Head of the Republic of Dagestan/TASS
Russian Combat Sambo Champion (2009), European Army Hand-to-hand Fighting Champion, European Pankration Champion, NAGA Grapping World Champion (2012). At the professionally level he has fought 29 fights and has not suffered a single defeat.
In October 2020, The Guardian stated that Khabib was the second most popular Muslim sportsman in the world, behind only Egyptian footballer Mohamed Salah.
Apart from his sports career, Khabib Nurmagomedov actively positions himself as a devout Muslim, advocating for freedom of religion and defending the rights of religious minorities in Europe, which includes Muslims. Besides, he regularly positions himself on the Internet and in his interviews to mass media as an adherent of traditional values and categorically opposes the imposition of Western values that are alien to the Muslim Caucasus. He is an authority for young people from The Caucasus republics.
In 2016, Nurmagomedov became the President of the EAGLES MMA fighting team, whose founder and investor was a well-known Dagestani businessman and founder of Summa Group, Ziyavudin Magomedov. As of June 2017, the EAGLES MMA team has admitted several dozens of Russia’s best fighters, who will develop the club and present it at international arenas in the world’s best promotions.
Ramzan Kadyrov/Alexei Nikolsky/TASS
The Chechen Republic is special compared to all the constituent entities of the Russian Federation. For many centuries, it has drawn attention of the public and research institutions. In recent years, when Ramzan Kadyrov became the head of the region, the whole world began to talk about Chechnya. Great political, economic and social changes have taken place there. Nobody will now recognize the post-war, once destroyed Chechnya.
There have also been great changes in terms of spiritual life – gambling halls and clubs, and saunas have been abolished. There is a reverent attitude towards Islam not only on the part of regular people, but also on the part of the government, whose every session starts with dua.
Kadyrov is one of those figures in Russian public and politics that has influence in the Arab world. His authority in the Muslim world is very impressive, especially in the light of the fact that much negative information was formerly broadcast about the Chechen people in the countries of the East through Western mass media. Ramzan Kadyrov fights extremists, radicals, ideas of Al-Qaeda and ISIS (terrorist organizations whose activities are banned on the territory of the Russian Federation).
Ravil Gaynutdin/Vyacheslav Prokofiev/TASS
Mufti Ravil Gaynutdin is the Chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Russian Federation, member of the Council for Cooperation with Religious Associations under the President of the Russian Federation, member of the Presidium and Co-Chairman of the Interreligious Council of Russia. In his sermons and daily religious activities he constantly upholds the ideas of civilized inter-confessional dialogue and brotherly cooperation between all the peoples, and advocates an active peacemaking stance for the establishment of civil peace and harmony in society.
Gaynutdin is a member of the Presidium of the Eurasian Islamic Council, the Council for Muslim Minorities of the World Islamic League and other international organizations; a member of the International Academy of Eurasian Studies, the International Slavonic Academy for Science, Education, Culture and Religion and the International Academy of Informatization.
The Chairman of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Russian Federation is awarded with the Order of Friendship (1997), Honor (2004), the Order for Merit to the Fatherland IV (2009), III (2015) and II (2019). He has a commendation from the President of the Russian Federation (1999); he is awarded with the Order of Shapagat of Kazakhstan (2010), the highest Palestinian Order of the Star of Jerusalem (2015), and the highest award of Muslims in Russia, the Al-Fakhr Order (‘For Merit’, 2015).
Over the years of his professional activities he has written a number of scientific works on Muslim theology, Muslim dogmatics and law: ‘Islam. Faith. Mercy. Tolerance.’ (1997), ‘The Holy Quran about Man, Their Life and Immortality’ (1998), ‘Fundamentals of Islam’ (2004) and ‘Islam in Modern Russia’.