World’s 500 ‘Most Influential Muslims’ for 2016-17: Despite facing flak in India Zakir Naik still among the ‘Honourable Mentions’

By A Mirsab,,

There is no change in the listing of 500 ‘Most Influential Muslims’ of the world as far as Indian Muslims are concerned. As like in last year’s listing, same two dozen personalities from India feature in the list for this year.

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However, what is noticeable in the listing prepared by Oman-based ‘The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre’ (RISSC), an independent research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, is that Dr Zakir Naik’s name appears under the dignitaries regarded as ‘Honourable Mentions’.

It reflects that the forceful vilification campaign run by the Indian media against Dr Naik after the July Café terror attack in Bangladesh, had no impact on his reputation across the world. He is still regarded praiseworthy in the Muslim world.

Dr Naik’s name is listed under two heads – ‘Preachers & Spiritual Guides’ and ‘Honorable Mentions’. It gives his details as:

Zakir Abdul-Karim Naik is a popular preacher and comparative religion specialist in the mould of the legendary Ahmed Deedat. He hosts huge public events where he speaks on all aspects of Islam and answers questions from the audience. Naik challenges leaders of other faiths to public debates that are broadcast around the world on Peace TV—a satellite channel that he helped to found. He is also the founder of the Islamic Research Foundation, which runs United Islamic Aid. In 2015, he was awarded the King Faisal International Prize for Services to Islam.”

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. This is the 8th year that the RISSC has released such a list. The publication selects Muslim individuals from a range of categories of influence, 13 in total.

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

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

Indian Personalities

Among the top 50 in this list, 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 23rd while Mahmood Madani is placed on 39th position. Both have improved their ranking this year. Khan has gone up two places and Madani moved four places up from his last year’s 43rd position.

In addition to these two names other Indian names are mentioned under following different heads:

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)

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 IndiaMuslim 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 87-year old Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, a group which strongly opposed the creation of a separate Muslimstate 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 isleader 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 AligarhMuslim

Philanthropy, Charity & Development: Premji, 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 IndianMuslim)

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.