President Muhammadu Buhari, the Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar and a Borno State-Islamic cleric, Sheik Ibrahim Saleh have been named among the top 50 most influential Muslim leaders in the world.
According to a publication, The Muslim 500, an annual report of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims, President Buhari is the 20th most powerful, followed by the Sultan and Saleh were ranked 24th and 38th respectively.
The publication noted that there were 1.7 billion Muslims all over the world, making up approximately 23 percent of the world’s population, or one-fifth of the world.
It stated that Buhari and his compatriots were listed among the world’s 50 most powerful Muslim leaders because of their influence on “cultural, ideological, financial and political” activities.
“Note that the impact can be either positive or negative, depending on one’s point of view of course. The selection of people for this publication in no way means that we endorse their views; rather we are simply trying to measure their influence.
“The influence can be of a religious scholar directly addressing Muslims and influencing their beliefs, ideas and behaviour, or it can be of a ruler shaping the socio-economic factors within which people live their lives, or of artists shaping popular culture.
“The first two examples also point to the fact that the lists, and especially the Top 50, are dominated by religious scholars and heads of state. Their dominant and lasting influence cannot be denied, especially the rulers, who in many cases also appoint religious scholars to their respective positions,” it said.
The publication added that it selected Muslim individuals from a range of categories of influence in politics, religious affairs, social issues, philanthropy, development, business, science and technology, among others.
It noted that selecting Buhari and other Muslim individuals as the most influential leaders in Islam was challenging.
“How to measure this influence is of course the most challenging aspect of the publication and the one where opinions diverge the most. Influence can sometimes be gauged on a quantitative basis, the number of people influenced, the number of books written, the amount of sales etc., but more often, it is related to the qualitative and lasting effect of that influence.
“The achievements of a lifetime are given more weight than achievements within the current year. People who are trailblazers or the lone voice in a remote area are also taken into account. This means that our list of names will change gradually, rather than dramatically, year-on-year,” the report said.