I’m a Orthodox Traditional Fundamentalist Sunni according to “Top 500 Most Influential Muslims”

The Royal Islamic Strategies Studies Centre in Jordan and the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in America recently released a publication entitled “The 500 Most Influential Muslims”. I started reading it then stopped after I realized it wasn’t a short read and began browsing. From what I read it’s clear there is a clear bias of anti-Salafism. They said that “Traditional Islam” makes up about 96% of the world Muslims. “Islamic Modernism” makes up about 1% and “Islamic Fundamentalism” makes up about 3%. I thought to myself, that’s a pretty good analysis and understand of Muslim demographics worldwide. Within any masjid community that’s pretty much what I say (give or take a few percentages).

I thought it was all good until they went on to define each of the 3 divisions. The Traditional Islam section talked about the different Islamic schools of law and included the Shia ones as well. It also mentioned sufism and the different paths. Then it went to Islamic Fundamentalism and it listed the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafism/Wahhabism and Revolutionary Shi’ism as part of Islamic Fundamentalism. This was shocking since the scholars the listed in the top 50 were most Salafi or supported of the Islamic brotherhood. They said that Islamic Fundamentalism makes up about 3% of the Muslim world’s population. Does that mean all the salafis/wahhhabis, all the members of the ikhwaan al muslimeen, and all the revolutionary shias only make up 3% of the Muslim world’s population?

I am not necessarily in agreement with Salafism or the Muslim Brotherhood, but we have to be fair and be honest. They aren’t really fundamentalists. In fact the Muslim Brotherhood was started by traditional Sufi Muslims. I was a little disappointed when I read that John Esposito is one of the Chief Editors. I would expect him to know better, unless there was influence from the financiers and organizing governments involved in this. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was.

They also mentioned “The Aga Khan” as one of the Top 50. I wonder if they knew the other 49 wouldn’t consider him to be Muslim.

In conclusion according to the report, since I’m Hanafi, I’m a part of the Orthodox Traditional group. Since I want follow the Qur’an and Sunnah and follow Prophet Muhammad (saas), which is what Salafism is, I’m also a Fundamentalist.

You can read the full publication here (PDF).

28 Replies to “I’m a Orthodox Traditional Fundamentalist Sunni according to “Top 500 Most Influential Muslims””

  1. MR, naturally there are vested interests involved when writing this type of stuff. Jordan’s government has an interest in prolonging local despotic political rule and suppressing many Muslims in Jordan. The center at Georgetown wants to present a view of Islam that is as close to possible as being “palatable” to Westerners. I mean, we should be thankful enough that Irshad Manji or Asra Nomani aren’t on the list…so atleast they’re not TOTALLY alienating practicing Muslims here….

    As you mentioned though, the entire paradigm is flawed because they keep defining anyone who is a practicing Muslim as “fundamentalist” and even that word is inappropriate in an Islamic context because we are all necessarily fundamentalist if we believe in Qoran and Sunnah. Infact a better division would be between violent totalitarians and everyone else, which is more accurate.

    That being said, it’s probably true that the Salafi voice is nowhere near the majority….however they are backed by Saudi $ in many cases and have a voice way out of proportion to their numbers. So saying most Muslims aren’t Salafi doesn’t mean much when it comes to actual influence. Furthermore to be fair to the Salafis, even they get the short end of the stick because most of them are not connected to Saudi Arabia in any way, but the Saudi faction is predominant thanks to the moolah and has pretty much dirtied the Salafi name around the world.

    It is a very small group of Saudi backed folks and another group of violent extremists the likes of Bin Ladin and Sami ul-Haqq who have not hijacked the Muslim ummah, but in a very real sense HAVE hijacked the microphone….

  2. “” I would expect him to know better, unless there was influence from the financiers and organizing governments involved in this. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was.””
    This is a “duh” statement 😀

    Though in my opinion their shouldn’t be factions in Islam.
    After all Muhammad (s) sent us one
    God send us one

  3. Interestingly Ikhwanis are “fundementalists” but also “a transnational Sunni movement, with no particular ideological adherence.” which sounds mutually exclusive to me.

    I’m also assuming that the list is in no particular order, as I’m not aware of the tremendous influence wielded by the King of Morocco, even among Moroccans…

    In addition this list is a list of “most influential” people who happen to be “Muslim” and not Muslims who can most influence Islam or Muslims, as demonstrated by “Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistani Nuclear Scientist”, who doesn’t sound like a leading scholar to me…

    @MR by Salafi I assume they mean Wahabi and not historical Salafi so your statement “Since I want follow the Qur’an and Sunnah and follow Prophet Muhammad (saas), which is what Salafism is, I’m also a Fundamentalist.” isn’t exactly true. That, in essence, is what the original Salafi movement was, but I would argue that any Salafi voice not in line with the Wahabi creed was silenced a long time ago. Plus those are not necessarily one for one, “Hanafi” is a school of fiqh and as such doesn’t address aqidah. I believe most hanafis are Maturidi. Salafism, however, almost exclusivly supports the Athari Aqidah, to the point that one could argue it is a large part of the Salafi doctrine. Full disclosure, I consider myself Shafi’i and Ash’ari.

    @Chris whether their should or should not be factions in Islam isn’t necessarily relevant. Due to historical and human factors we know that Islam will have numerous (72 mentioned in hadith, but clearly that just means many in Arabic usage) divisions with only one of those being the true Islam, but on top of that the true Islam clearly has factions of it’s own, even if that is just a recognition of the school where an Imam was trained to serve his community as a religious leader (which in essence is what the madhabs are, just a statement of high level logic when weighing hadith to the determination of issue of fiqh). Just as you can be an Electrical Engineer but your diploma comes from a particular school or university which has one or more certifications indicating what their degree means.

  4. Their methodology is mostly correct, but I don’t like how they refer to some groups as “politicized”. Even a traditional Muslim can be politicized. Though, their rankings are spot on: consider that the Ayatollah holds sway even amongst some Sunnis because of his defiance (which is another controversial topic).

  5. Masha’Allah, very well written – Touche!

    I was very surprised to see people like Amina Wadud on there… it was really sad to see them even considered as Muslim. Hey, you should make an “MR’s Top 500 Influential Muuzlimz” lol 🙂

  6. I agree with Keams’ point concerning the Salafi / Wahhabi distinction. Those who follow Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab and his way are not to be confused with the Salaf of the first three hundred years after the time of the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu 3alayhi wa sallam.

    The premise of this whole document seems problematic from the get-go. I read through the first 16 pages, and the sense I get is this. The authors are trying to categorize all of these 500 people in such a way as to suggest that all of them fall under the banner of Islam. They correctly define Muslims on page 10 as persons who

    “…believe in Allah (God), Glorified and Exalted be He, the One, and the Unique; that the Noble Qur’an is the Revealed Word of God; and that our master Muhammad, may blessings and peace be upon him, is a Prophet and Messenger unto all mankind.”

    On page 11, right after that, there is a brief explanation of what the author calls the Salafi school – more appropriately called the Wahhabi school – as I mentioned earlier. The explanation reads that they “…have specific doctrinal beliefs, owing to their particular interpretation of Islam, that differentiate them from the majority of Sunnis, such as a literal anthropomorphic interpretation of God.”

    This is not a minor point of departure. This is an issue of Aqidah, not fiqh. If Muslims, as was correctly laid out before, all have the same belief, and the school mentioned on page 11 has an anthropomorphic belief in Allah, the Exalted, then they cannot be considered in the same regard as those who do not apply anthropomorphism to Allah and clear Allah of human characteristics completely. We see here, by definition, they do not have the same belief in Allah. The Sunni Orthodoxy, on one hand, clears Allah of all human characteristics and the Wahhabi school, on the other, applies anthropomorphic qualities to Allah. Let’s put 2 and 2 together.

    If the authors make such a fundamental misstep in the report this early, I can’t imagine what other issues will crop up later on.

  7. “The explanation reads that they “…have specific doctrinal beliefs, owing to their particular interpretation of Islam, that differentiate them from the majority of Sunnis, such as a literal anthropomorphic interpretation of God.””

    Yeah, that’s a problem. Since Salafis do NOT have an anthropomorphic interpretation of Allah…

  8. @MR – how is this anti-salafi? regarding the 3%, it probably means those who are “formal” members of an organization, but I can definitely say the numbers are probably higher – i agree with you on this point. Also, “you” are expecting Dr. John to know better? ahhh… is that arrogant or what? If you don’t know the influence Syed Qutb had on the Ikhwan, then don’t comment on what you don’t know. I am not sure why Ismaelis are included on this list either, they are clearly Non-Muslims.
    @ Kearns: Are you in contact with anyone in Morocco? He recently remade the dismal French-styled dust-coloured rond-points into beautiful gardened fountains around the city of Fez and established a huge school for the study and formation of pracitioners of the traditional arts. Now, there are Spanish Muslims, converts and sons and daughters of converts, studying at the Qarawiyyine, along with perhaps a hundred or more students from across Africa. A very “small” example of what he is doing in his country.

  9. @al-suyuufi by Salafis they mean the modern day movement which has been co-opted by the wahabi movement from Saudi, and yes that is exactly what they believe.

    @Salam you are saying that he deserves to be listed as the third most influential Muslim in the entire word because he remade some traffic circles? I wasn’t aware that he done anything at the Qarawiyyine, which is good because the last time I was there it was a “ghost university”, but still. I believe he should be on the list, but 3rd most influential seems a bit out of place to me. Granted the last time I was in Morocco he had only just ascended the throne, but I still haven’t seen a tremendous influence being exerted. (His father however, had some serious influence worldwide)

  10. @MR Interesting, however I don’t believe that when Al Bannah said “Salafi” he referred to the movement followed by modern “salafis” but instead referenced the “Salafi” movement as understood by scholars like Ibn Taymiyyah and (as the article mentioned) Al Afhani, Rashid Rida, and Muhammad Abduh. In addition, many would say that the Muslim Brotherhood was shaped much more by Qutb than Al Bannah, though recently the Brotherhood seems to be distancing themselves from Qutb, who may not have objected to Tasawuuf, but did author one of the most virulent treatise in recorded history…

  11. @MR Hasan al Banna according to some texts was part of an order called the Hasafiyah Tariqah, which in today’s times is unheard of. So I don’t think the Order he was a part of can represent the majority of the adherents to Sufism. Perhaps they were a radical offshoot of a more larger branch. Alllahu ‘Alim.

  12. just got this email:

    Dhul Hijjah and Eid al-Adha
    Crescentwatch.org adheres to the traditional principle that all Islamic lunar months begin and end based on the confirmed, verifiable sighting of the new crescent moon.

    Crescentwatch did not receive any reliably confirmed reports of the new crescent moon being sighted within the area of the continental U.S. and Canada on the evening of Tuesday, November 17. This is consistent with the forecast of Muslim astronomers that it would have been extremely difficult to sight the moon anywhere in the Continental U.S or Canada on Tuesday evening (see visibility forecasts here).

    In accordance with the “local moon sighting” methodology to which we ascribe and numerous negative sighting reports from across the U.S., including California, Texas, and Florida, we are completing the 30th day of Dhul Qi’dah and observing the beginning of the sacred month of Dhul Hijjah on Wednesday evening, November 18th. We will therefore observe the blessed day of Eid al-Adha (the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah) on Saturday, November 28, insha’Allah.*

    The first ten days of Dhul Hijjah are considered to be among the holiest days of the entire year. For further information about the devotional practices associated with this month, please click here. May Allah make this blessed month a source of benefit, enrichment, and closeness to Allah, Most High.

    *According to the “local moon sighting” methodology that we, along with numerous other moon sighting organizations, prefer and have consistently used for many years, Crescentwatch currently accepts confirmed sightings only from the continental U.S. and Canada. However, acceptance of genuinely reliable sightings outside of those boundaries and around the world (“global moon sighting”) is a valid fiqh position, and, based upon confirmed sightings Tuesday in Chile and South Africa, would allow for people to celebrate Eid al-Adha on Friday, November 27. Consistent adherence to either of these methodologies is entirely valid and in line with traditional moon sighting principles. We thus encourage Muslims to celebrate Eid with their local community, following the dates and moon sighting methodology of their qualified leadership. May Allah bless and increase everyone during these sacred days.
    Last Updated: November 18, 2009 22:57 PST
    Posted: November 18, 2009 02:07 PST

    Sighting Recommendation for Dhul-Hijjah
    The evening of Tuesday, November 17, follows our completion of the 29th day of Dhu al-Q’idah, and as such, everyone is encouraged to go out to look for the new crescent moon in anticipcation of the sacred month of Dhu al-Hijjah. However, qualified Muslim astronomers have indicated that it is very unlikely that the new moon will be sightable anywhere in North America on Tuesday evening (see visibility charts here). We are thus anticipating the sighting of the moon and the start of Dhu al-Hijjah to occur on Wednesday night (November 18) in sha Allah.

    The crescent would be visible shortly after sunset, to the left, and above where the sun had set. It is a beautiful experience to sight its emergence, and it is a sunnah of our noble Prophet, sal Allahu alayhi wa salam, that we hope the ummah revives.

    Crescentwatch.org adheres to the traditional principal that Islamic lunar months begin and end based on the confirmed, verifiable sighting of the new crescent moon. Click here for Zaytuna Institute’s Statement Concerning the Determination of Islamic Dates
    Posted: November 17, 2009 11:30 PST

  13. @Zaytsister: Why do people insist on posting irrelevant messages?

    Hassan al-Banna was a sufi, his dhikr was the Ma’thurat. The Ikhwan changed over time, and still does to this day.

  14. Hamza Yusuf? Number 35?

    C’mon. I ain’t got nothin’ against the guy, but damn…#35?

    I don’t really know much about him (kinda turned me off circa 2001) but is he really all that well known outside North America?

    This is a sincere question to those who may know better. Not trying to backbite or say anything bad about the brother…but is he really all that influential around the world? Does he really deserve #35?

  15. @Mozlem Blogger – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf deserves a lot higher place than #35! The amount of good he’s done for the Muslim Ummah is innumerable. He’s currently working on starting America’s first accredited Muslim college, Insha’Allah. http://www.zaytunacollege.org

  16. @Abdullah – I don’t doubt he’s done good. I doubt he belongs higher than 35.

    Only Allah can judge our deeds anyway. The list isn’t about the most pious Muslim or the Muslims with the most deeds. It’s about the Muslims that are most influential.

    To me, that sounds like Muslims who can effect world events and change/influence hearts and minds.

    I’m sure Hamza Yusuf can do that to a certain extent, but can he start or stop a war? Can he even get a politician in his own country elected?

    I’m sure he’s a good Muslim. I’m sure he’s done lots of good.

    I’m just not convinced he’s the 35th most influential Muslim on the planet.

  17. To be honest, this is an entirely useless, RUBBISH list. It is not because none of my friends made it (which they should have, not just because they are my friends 😉 ) but because it is utterly incoherent and unreasonable and definitely not a list of “influential” people. Seems to me more of a popularity contest.

    It is obvious that the progressives got each of their reps in, even the guy/gal we never heard of. The fact that Amina Wudud whose only influence is to lead a group of wackos in prayer got in, says something. The fact that hijabman, who I have nothing personal against, but comeon checkout his name and claim to fame (appeared on comedy central, woohoo)… says more. The fact that they missed the founder of the largest Islamic institute in North America, Mohamed Shareef, is damning too.

    It isn’t just that they have a new spin on dividing Islam into a some strange, slightly RAND’ish “sects”, I mean they could be excused for dealing with that complicated topic. But to just pick out people who seem popular, but who may have zero influence on the society, proves the list’s nonsense.

    I doubt Esposito paid much attention to it… he has lots of funding, so he probably threw a few grad students to work with Shaykh Google to arrive at this list.

    In conclusion, an utterly useless addition to the world of lists and books. Sorry to see Esposito’s name on it, it only lowers his standing in academia.

    P.S. The only redeeming feature is that they left Manji out, shocking to say the least. I mean being Muslim wasn’t quite necessary.

  18. @Concerned: Sister, I’m sorry if it was irrelevant-I apologize, forreal, but I thought MR was a big Zaytuna supporter, especially of Shaykh Hamza and friends i.e. of carrying on the Sunnah of local moonsighting and there was nowhere else to contact him. However, thanks for reminding me. If I may say though, I hope you are more Concerned, in general, about Your well-being, your aakhirah and simply, yourself, than you are with others, given the name you’ve prescribed yourself. I wish the same on myself along with my Ummah. Peace Sister.

  19. MR is taking good care of his aakhirah, by taking care of other Muslims and supporting Islam. It is the duty of all Muslims thats why i am here too 🙂 learn and teach.

  20. @zaytsister – Yeah I check that site, but I always follow the local communities since it is what is recommended. JazakAllah khair.

  21. Following the Quran and Sunnah is what Islaam is, not what salafism is.
    ALL muslims who consider or strive to be practicing endeavour to follow it, not those who label themselves as Salaf.

  22. @ Zaytsister: I hope your concern for me is as sincere as you say, and I hope you don’t simply judge a person by a title/cover.

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