President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon for the sixth time has been listed among 500 most influential Muslims of the world, according to The Muslim 500-2021, published by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center with the support from the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in Georgetown on October 26.

Tajikistan’s grand mufti Saidmukarram Abdulqodirzoda has also been listed among the world’s 500 most influential Muslims. 

This publication, which has been published since 2009, sets out to ascertain the influence some Muslim have on the worldwide Muslim 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.  The influence can be of a religious scholar directly addressing Muslims and influencing their beliefs, ideas and behavior, or it can be of a ruler shaping the socio- economic factors within which people live their lives, or of artists forming popular culture.

The publication notes that 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.  This doesn’t discount the influence from other sectors of society.

The publication selects Muslim individuals from a range of categories of influence, 14 in total: (Scholarly, Political, Administration of Religious Affairs, Preachers and Spiritual Teachers, Philanthropy/Charity and Development, Social Issues, Business, Science and Technology, Arts and Culture, Qur’an Recitors, Media, Celebrities and Sports Stars, Radicals, and Issues of the Day).

The publication notes that Emomali Rahmon has been President of  Tajikistan  since  1992,  winning  his  fourth  term  in  office  in  2013.  He  has  been  a  supporter  of  Tajik  cultural roots, changing his name in 2007 from Rahmonov  to  Rahmon  following  a  decree  that  banned  Slavic names endings and other Soviet-era practices.  Many of his family hold senior government roles, according to the publication.    

As far as Saidmukarram Abdulqodirzoda is concerned, the publication says he is  the  state-selected  Grand  Mufti  and  thus  head  of  Tajikistan’s  Muslims,  most  of  whom  are  Sunnis,  and  whose  tradition  includes  following  the  Hanafi  school  in  matters  of  ju-risprudence and the Naqshbandi spiritual path. They belong  to  the  Persian-speaking  Tajik  ethnic  group  who  share  a  language,  culture,  and  history  with  Afghanistan and Iran.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tops the list of 500 most influential Muslims of the world.  He is followed by King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, King  of  Saudi  Arabia, Grand Ayatollah Hajj Sayyid Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, King Abdullah II Ibn Al-HusseinKing  of  the  Hashemite  Kingdom  of  Jordan, and Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani, Scholar and Deobandi Leader

His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, is also listed among Top 50 most influential Muslims of the world.

Presidents of Azerbaijan (Ilham Aliyev) and Turkmenistan (Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow) were also listed among 500 most influential Muslims of the world.