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).