The Muslim 500, published annually listing the World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims is a book that recognises Muslims whose influence has made a significant impact on the Muslim world.
In their eleventh publication released in 2019 for the region of Oceania, they have recognised Ed Husic MP in the Political Section, Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman and Dr Anwar Ghani (NZ) in the Administration of Religious Affairs section, Sheikh Tawfique Chowdhury in the Social Issues section, Talal Yassine in the Business section and Sonny Bill Williams in the Celebrities & Sports section.
In 2010, Mr Ed Husic became the first Muslim to be elected to the Australian Federal Parliament. When Kevin Rudd announced the Second Rudd Ministry in 2013, Husic was named as Parliament Secretary to the Prime Minister. Taking his oath on the Qur’an, Husic became the first Muslim sworn in to the Australian federal government frontbench. With his rise in political prominence came growing Islamophobic abuse directed toward him. In May 2019 he announced that he would step down from the Shadow cabinet.
Imam Shady Alsuleiman is the president (second term) of the Australian National Imams Council (ANIC), which represents over 200 member Imams from each of the Australian States and Territories. It is also the body that elects the Mufti of Australia. Alsuleiman is an Australian born Imam who has strongly connected with the Muslim youth and helped integrate the Muslim community with wider Australian society. He’s an international speaker with many followers on social media.
Dr Anwar Ghani has been President of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) for 12 years. He is now leading national and international relations of FIANZ. His work in leading FIANZ has been considerable, building bridges with the government, New Zealand’s population as a whole, and leaders of other faiths. He has been a strong advocate of community engagement for creating more connected societies. He was invited to be the first Muslim leader to be a patron of New Zealand Royal College of Police. Dr Ghani was awarded with the title of Member of New Zealand Order of Merit by the government of New Zealand.
Sheikh Dr Tawfique Chowdhury is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Mercy Mission, one of the world’s fastest growing Muslim social enterprises. Its premier program is the AlKauthar Institute (alkauthar.org), which offers courses in Islamic disciplines to the general public through a medium that is accessible to working professionals. When AlKauthar initially launched in 2005, its offerings were limited to Australia. AlKauthar Institute has since spread its reach across the Western world, South Africa, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia. A medical doctor by profession, Tawfique studied Islamic theology in Medina, specializing in Islamic finance, personal law, and Islamic medical ethics. He also runs a successful multinational IT company, and is a corporate trainer and business coach to many successful people worldwide.
Mr Talal Yassine has spent 20 years in business, politics, and charity work. He is the Founder and Managing Director of Crescent Wealth, the world’s first Sharia-compliant pension fund. Talal also serves as the Chairman of First Quay Capital and LandCorp Australia and serves on the Board of the Whitlam Institute Limited, a Prime Ministerial Board connected to the University of Western Sydney. He is a Director of Finocracy Ltd (USA) and the Responsible Finance Initiative (UK). His previous positions include a number of high-profile public-sector roles. Talal is a Professorial Fellow with the Crawford School at the Australian National University and an adjunct Prof with the Business School at the University of Western Sydney.
Mr Sonny Williams is an international rugby player and former heavyweight boxing champion of New Zealand. Williams converted to Islam in 2008, and is the first Muslim to play for the legendary All Blacks. In 2013, he was judged the World’s Best Rugby League player at the annual RLIF Awards. He memorably gave away his World Cup winner’s gold medal to a young supporter just after the 2015 final.
There are approximately 1.93 billion Muslims in the world today, making up 25% of the world’s population, or just under one-quarter of mankind. As well as being citizens of their respective countries, they also have a sense of belonging to the ‘ummah’, the worldwide Muslim community.
The publication sets out to ascertain the influence some Muslims have on this community, or on behalf of the community. Influence is: any person who has the power (be it cultural, ideological, financial, political or otherwise) to make a change that will have a significant impact on the Muslim world. Note that the impact can be either positive or negative, depending on one’s point of view of course.
The individuals are listed in each category according to geographical region (Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, North America, South America), then in alphabetical order by country and surname.