World’s 500 ‘Most Influential Muslims’ for 2015-16: 22 Indians in the list; Mufti Akhtar Raza Khan, Mahmood Madani remain in first 50

World’s 500 ‘Most Influential Muslims’ for 2015-16: 22 Indians in the list; Mufti Akhtar Raza Khan, Mahmoo d Madani remain in first 50

By A. Mirsab,,

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As like last year, this time too almost two dozen persons from India feature in the list of 500 ‘Most Influential Muslims’ of the world. Among the top 50, however, there are only two known figures from India, a country with second largest Muslim population: Barelwi leader Mufti Akhtar Raza Khan and Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind leader Maulana Mahmood Madani.

Mufti Akhtar Raza Khan is on 25th while Mahmood Madani is placed on 43rd position. These are the same personalities from India that appeared in last year’s list as well. Khan has gone down two places in this year’ list whereas Madani maintained same position.

In all 22 Indian Muslim persons find place in the list of 500 prepared for the year 2015-2016. In last year’s list there were 24 personalities from India.

The top 10 list, overwhelmed with the presence of kings and rulers, except Hajji Mohammed Abdal Wahhab, who is the Amir of Tablighi Jamaat in Pakistan (at 10th position) but it has no Muslim personalities from India. As compared with last year’s list all are the same faces in first 10 except King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud who replaced late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud who died in January 2015.

Oman-based ‘The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre’ (RISSC), an independent research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, prepared the list. This is the 7th year that the RISSC has released such a list. The publication selects Muslim individuals from a range of categories of influence, 13 in total.

As per the RISSC ( ), there are 1.71 billion Muslims in the world today, making up nearly 24% of the world’s population, or 1/5 of the mankind. India counts Muslim population of 186,350,020, as much as 14.6 % of the total population.

The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought is an international Islamic non-governmental, independent institute headquartered in Amman, the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The full list of 500 Most Influential Muslims can be read at

Top 10 personalities:

1. His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

2. His Eminence Professor Dr Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad al Tayeb, Grand Sheikh of the Al Azhar University, Grand Imam of the Al Azhar Mosque

3. His Majesty King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques

4. His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Hajj Sayyid Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran

5. His Majesty King Mohammed VI, King of Morocco

6. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id Al-Sa’id Sultan of Oman

7. His Highness General Al-Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan – Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces

8. His Excellency Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey

9. His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hussein Sistani, Marja of the Hawza, Najaf, Iraq

10. Hajji Mohammed Abdal Wahhab – Amir of Tablighi Jamaat in Pakistan

Indian Personalities :

RISSC describes 72-year-old Mufti Muhammad Akhtar Raza Khan Qaadiri Al Azhari as Grand Mufti of India, Barelwi Leader and Spiritual Guide. His school of thought is traditional Sunni, Hanafi, Sufi. He is the leader of the Indian Barelwis and considered by his followers as the Grand Mufti of India. He is the great-grandson of Ahmed Raza Khan (d. 1921), who founded the Barelwi movement in South Asia.

50-year-old Maulana Mahmood Madani is leader and Executive Member of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, India. His influence spreads over 10 million Muslims who are members of Madani’s Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind. His Source of Influence is Scholarly, Political, and Administrative.

A little down in ranking (40 in 2010 and 43 in 2016) is Maulana Mahmood Madani, a leading Islamic scholar and politician in India, who has gained influence for his forthright condemnations of terrorism and unfaltering support of the Indian Muslim community, says the institute.

The 500 Most Influential Muslims have been put in 13 categories of influence

• 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 • Extremists

Scholarly: Al-Mustafa, Allamah Zia (Allamah Zia Al-Mustafa Sahib is a well known scholar who has taught Hadith for over 40 years in India. He has memorized 60,000 Hadiths with their chain of narrators and authenticity.);

Khan, Wahiduddin (Wahiduddin Khan is an Islamic scholar who strongly advocates peace, interfaith and coexistence);

Nadvi, Rabey Hasani (His influence emanates from being the fourth president of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Rector of Darul-Uloom Nadwatul Ulama and a founding member of Rabita Aalam-e-Islami, Makkah Mukarramah);

Nadwi, Bahauddeen Muhammed Jamaluddeen (He is the founder Darul Huda Islamic University, the Editor in Chief of an international Journal of Islamic Studies and a member of many regional (Kerala), national and international organizations)

This year well-known Indian scholar of Shia Islam, Maulana Kalbe Sadiq is dropped from mention in the list. He appeared under this category last year.

Political: Farooq, Dr Mohammad Umar (Dr Farooq inherited the 14th Mirwaiz (Kashmiri term for traditional preacher of Muslims in Kashmir) in 1990 at the age of 17 after the assassination of his father. At the young age of 20 he became chairman and founder of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, a grassroots coalition of pro-freedom parties in Jammu & Kashmir. He has raised the Kashmiri problem at the UN, the EU parliament and the IOC advocating dialogue with both India and Pakistan so that the aspirations of the Kashmiri people may be realized.)

Curiously, Member of Parliament Asaduddin Owaisi is not placed in the political category. He is placed under administration of religious affairs because his family runs various education institutions under the Dar-usSalam Educational Trust.

Administration of Religious Affairs: Ahmad, Sheikh Aboobackar (Sheikh Aboobackar Ahmad is the General Secretary of the All India Muslim Scholars Association and founder and Vice Chancellor of Jamia Markus Ssaquafathi Ssunniyya (Sunni Cultural Centre) Karanthur, Kozhikode, (Kerala);

Al-Bukhari, Sayyid Ibrahimul Khaleel (He has founded and directed numerous educational and charity initiatives in India over the past 25 years);

Noorie, Maulana Shakir Ali (He is the President of Sunni Dawate Islami (Non-Political Religious Organisation) in Mumbai)

Owaisi, MP Janab Asaduddin Owaisi (Barrister Asaduddin Owaisi is an eminent parliamentarian of India and president of All India Majlis-e- Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM))

Preachers & Spiritual Guides: Azmi, H. Hazrat Allama Maulana Qamaruzzaman (He is the Khalifa of Imam Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi’s son. He is a prolific speaker and according to the Times of India, has millions of followers all over the world);

Madani, Arshad (He is the President of the 86-year old Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, a group which strongly opposed the creation of a separate Muslim state of Pakistan. Maulana Syed Arshad Madani succeeded his brother, Maulana Syed Asad Madani in 2006, but since 2008, the group has been split into two factions);

Naik, Dr Zakir Abdul Karim (He is a well renowned public intellectual who has made it his mission to teach the world about Islam. He hosts huge public events where he speaks on the subject, highlighting misconceptions and promoting understanding about the faith),

Saifuddin, Syedna Mufaddal (He is the spiritual leader of 2-5 million Dawoodi Bohras living in 100 countries);

Shuaib, Sheikh Dr Thaika (Sheikh Dr Thaika Shuaib of Tamil Nadu is the head of the Arusiyya branch of the Qadiri Sufi order, a prominent Tariqa in South India and Sri Lanka and whose adherents are spread in UAE and the Far East).

In addition to these old personalities who appeared in last year list a new face has been added this year – Quadri, Professor Sayid Ameen Mian. He is leader of the Indian Barelwis and a sajjada nashin, or Sufi disciple of the Barkatiya Sufi tradition. He is also a professor of Urdu at India’s esteemed Aligarh Muslim


Philanthropy, Charity & Development: Prenji, Azim (He is an Indian business tycoon and philanthropist who is the chairman of Wipro Limited, a leader in the software industry. According to Forbes, he is currently the third wealthiest Indian as well as being the richest Indian Muslim)

Qasmi, Maulana Badruddin Ajmal (He is a prominent businessman in India who runs the Ajmal Group of Companies, which sells attar perfume, oils and textiles. He is a proponent and member of various social services organizations and is also a scholar of Islam, having studied at the Darul Uloom Deoband. Qasmi is also a politician who founded the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) a political party).

Arts and Culture: Azmi, Shabana (Azmi has been described as one of India’s finest actresses of film, television and theatre),

Khan, Aamir (Aamir Khan is one of the leading stars of Bollywood)

Rahman, Allah Rakha (AR) (Rahman is a prolific composer, record producer, and musician for the Indian film industry).

No Indian Muslim has been listed in the remaining categories of Business, Science & Technology, Social issues, Qur’an Reciters, Media, Celebrities, Sports Stars and Extremists.

However, two Indian personalities who appeared under Business and Science & Technology categories last year have been mentioned under Obituaries due to their death this year.

These are – Abdur Rahman, BS (BS Abdur Rahman was the most important Tamil-Muslim billionaire business magnate and philanthropist. He was worth $10 billion US dollars in 2010. He had a range of business interests in the UAE and India (in Tamil Nadu) including maritime shipping, real estate, insurance etc.). He died on July 1, 2015.

Abdul Kalam, Dr APJ (An engineer by profession, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was a former President of India. Before becoming president, Kalam was the Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and Secretary of India’s Defence Research and Development Organization from 1992 to 1999, during which he led the weaponization of strategic missile systems and nuclear testing in collaboration with the Department of Atomic Energy). He died on July 27, 2015.