The Muslim 500: Tanzanian president and Covid vaccine maker get top honours

Tanzania’s president Samia Hassan and Turkish-German scientist Ugur Sahin have been named Muslim woman and man of the year in the 2022 edition of ‘The Muslim 500.’

The annual publication by the Jordan-based Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISSC) also ranks the most powerful Muslims globally.

It named Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani as the most influential Muslim leader, followed by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Jordan’s King Abdullah.

Woman and man of the year

Tanzania’s president Samia Hassan was named ‘Woman of the Year’ after she became the first female president of the East African nation.

She is one of two women currently serving as president of an African country and the third ever Muslim president of Tanzania.

The RISSC said Hassan has ‘silenced’ some of her critics by taking a lead on tackling Covid and making the country more outwardly focussed.

Dr Sahin was named ‘Man of the Year’ for his work in developing the covid-19 vaccine with his wife Dr Ozlem Tureci

Over 1 billion doses of the vaccine, which utilises the cutting-edge mRNA technology, have now been distributed across the world — making it one of the most ambitious scale-ups in pharmaceutical history.

The RISSC said despite his success, Dr Sahin “stays humble”, urging that his vaccine be distributed fairly across the globe.

State leaders and preachers

State leaders and religious figures make up the bulk of the top 50. Notable exceptions include calligrapher Sheikh Uthman Taha (39) and footballer Mohammed Salah (41). The President of Singapore, Halimah Yacob (36), is the only woman in the top 50.

Dr Timothy Winter (Sheikh Abdal-Hakim Winter), the main force behind the project to build the Cambridge Central Mosque, came in at number 45.

Honourable mentions went to London mayor Sadiq Khan, Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, activist Malala Yousufzai, singer Sami Yusuf and footballer Sadio Mane.

UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov also got an honourable mention. The former UFC champion was on a tour of the UK recently, allowing his loyal fans to meet and quiz him about his life, faith and career.  

This is the 13th annual addition of the Muslim 500. The publication sets out to find out the influence some Muslims have on the wider community.

It categorises influence as any person who has the power (culturally, ideologically, financially, politically, or otherwise) to make a change that has a significant impact on the Muslim world and Muslims.

The Top 10:

1. His Highness Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid Al-Thani

Emir of Qatar

2. His Majesty King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud

King of Saudi Arabia, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques

3. His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Hajj Sayyid Ali Khamenei

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran

4. His Excellency President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

President of the Republic of Turkey

5. His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al-Hussein

Custodian of the Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem,

6. His Eminence Justice Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani

Leading scholar for the Deobandis and in Islamic finance

7. His Majesty King Mohammed VI

King of Morocco

8. His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi

9. His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hussein Sistani

Marja of the Hawza

10. His Excellency Prime Minister Imran Khan

Prime Minister of Pakistan


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