There are many powerful people in the world, and they often come from elite sub groups in society. The average stereotype of a Muslim person does not reflect their population, and many people are often biased due to prejudices that stem from the Middle East and Arab Spring crisis.
Most of you probably haven’t heard of these leaders, however it might be a good time to brush up on your knowledge about powerful Muslims that control millions of people and billions of dollars in the world.
Ali Hosseini Khamenei
The supreme leader of Iran, Ali Hosseini Khamenei, is an extremely important figure in today’s politics. With over 75 million Iranians, the job of this Muslim influencer is not so easy. Especially with the political climate being so turbulent against Iran for wanting to have nuclear power.
Ali Hosseini Khamenei was elected the supreme leader in 1989, over 25 years ago, and has remained in power since. This just goes to show how powerful he truly is, defying all odds and staying leader throughout many wars and civil unrest.
The idea of supreme leader is that no political decision is legal until he approves it. In addition, the leader is not supposed to leave Iran, and any meetings with him must happen within the country.
If you need more convincing, Forbes selected him in 21st place for the Worlds Most Powerful people.
King Abdullah II of Jordan
Upon the death of his father in 1999, Abdullah II of Jordan ascended to the throne. His family has ruled in Jordan since 1943 and are an extremely influential Muslim dynasty. His great grandfather King Abdullah I was the person to found modern Jordan, just another way to show the power this family has.
Jordan is one of the few countries that continues to be ruled by constitutional monarchy in which the king has power in politics. In 2010, King Abdullah II of Jordan was selected as the fourth most influential Muslim in the world.
This king has actually done something useful for his country. He has improved the economy of Jordan, and has also built peace between Jordanians and Israeli throughout the Palestinian conflict. By opening up tourism to the country, he has really increased both international relations and the financial situation for Jordan.
To help further the finances of the country, King Abdullah II has made some smart foreign investments and it has paid off.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco
The current king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, is a liberal political leader that has gain a lot of significant influence in the Muslim world. Shortly after ascending to the throne, he promised to improve poverty and corruption in Morocco and improve human rights for the country. In addition, the King has enacted new laws that give women more power.
More recently in 2011, Mohammed VI gave some of his responsibilities over to the government and prime minister. For example, now the prime minister has the power to dissolve parliament and prepare general policy. Though he gave away some of his role, the King remained in charge of the armed forces, foreign policy and matters relating to religion. It really helps that he speaks Arabic, English, French and Spanish.
It is still extremely unacceptable to criticize or directly oppose the king, which could end you up in jail.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Before becoming one of the most powerful Muslim leaders, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the current prime minister of Turkey, was a semi professional football player. His moderate political views and separation from extremist Islamic groups made him a popular leader in the beginning of his time in government.
In 2013, as part of the Arab Spring nationwide protests broke our against the growing dissolution in Recep Tayyip Erdoğan authoritarian leadership style. This lead to him withdrawing funding from his own AKP party, which was being affected by angry youths. This also halted the talks about getting into the EU and caused more unrest within the country.
There was a huge scandal that involved Erdoğan, where a recording of him leaked into the social media providing information about a $100 billion government corruption scandal. This lead to many major social media tools such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter being banned.
If you are able to control over 75million people it shows that you are an extremely powerful leader. Opposition and politicians have branded him a dictator.
Mohamed A. El-Erian
Not a political or religious leader, Mohamed A. El-Erian is still an extremely powerful Muslim influencer. He is the Chief Economic Advisor at Allianz, a multi-national financial services company and was once the CEO at PIMCO, one of the world’s largest bond investment firms.
Being brought up in New York but attending many international diplomacy events with his father just set the stage for El-Erian to become an extremely successful and powerful leader. Gaining most of his education in prestigious UK Universities such as Cambridge and Oxford, he was able to create a strong network of elite people.
With approximately $2 trillion dollars to manage, Mohamed A. El-Erian has extreme power in the Western world. He is recognized as a thought leader and is a columnist for Bloomberg and the Financial Times. He was named in the top 100 global thinkers and appears on many media outlets such as CBS and CNN.
Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hussein Sistani
The oldest Muslim leader on our list, Sayyid Ali Hussein Sistani, is the religious leader that helped lead the Shia people of Iraq during the reign of Saddam Hussain in the 1990’s. The Shia people consist of 60% of Iraq’s population.
Although his mosque was shut down in 1994, it was reopened when the US army invaded Iraq to liberate the country from Saddam Hussain. Following the death of Saddam, Sistani became a very powerful religious leader, and attempted to bring peace to the region.
With power comes money, Sistani over sees sums of money that equals millions of US dollars. Sistani holds quite moderate values, and is reported to prefer a more relaxed approach to the way social order should be maintained.
Qaboos bin Said al Said
These days you don’t often hear the word ‘Sultan’, but for Qaboos bin Said al Said it is his title as the Sultan of Oman. His story of ascending to the throne is something from myths and legends. In the mid 1970’s he overthrough his father in a palace coup and became the leader of the people of Oman.
The first change al Said made was to instate a total monarchy rule in Oman. This gave him ultimate power and control over everything in the country. This means he has power in foreign affairs, treasury, defense and the military. Now that is pretty powerful.
As a supreme leader, al Said has kept Oman rather neutral. Keeping good relations with Iran as well as having allies with the United Kingdom and United States. Due to the sensitivity of the Middle East, he is careful to balance political relationships between the West and Iran.There is no heir for al Said, and in his old age at 74 he has had a few health scares that have worried his advisers.
H.H. General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
The crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is also the deputy commander of the UAE Armed Forces. He is the third son of the first president of the United Arab Emirates and the leader of Abu Dhabi.
As one of the most powerful Muslim leaders in the world, Zayed Al Nahyan also takes part in a lot of social activities to increase the awareness about the UAE and also to increase welfare projects for his people. He has even initiated projects in education, economy and the environment. He has been praised for his work for the environment and is a firm advocate for alternative energy projects and campaigns in his country.
As the only woman on our list, Iman makes a big impact as a Muslim supermodel that is now married to one of the world’s biggest rockstars, David Bowie. Starting her career in 1977 when she moved from Somalia to the United States, Iman has definitely made a name for herself as a strong, powerful female leader.
Iman is not only a model, but has also dabbled in acting and entrepreneurship. Her passion for ethnic cosmetics and charity work is noticed and appraised by people in the industry. Not just a pretty face, Iman can speak five languages, Somali, Arabic, English, French and Italian, and also studied political science.After a long period in the modelling industry, Iman decided to take on the business venture of creating cosmetics for women who have difficulties in finding the right shades.
Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad El-Tayeb
This Muslim influential leader is considered to be the most moderate Sunni clerk in Egypt. Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad El-Tayeb was appointed by the Egyptian president in 2010 and has many close followers.
Before he was appointed the grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad El-Tayeb was involved in the politics of Egypt, and was a member of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party’s Policies Committee. Initially refusing to leave his post, he soon took on the heavy role of being the leading Imam for the Sunni faith. Not only religious duties, El-Tayeb has also been appointed the president of the Al-Azhar University, the largest Sunni Islamic University, looking after over 400,000 students.
During the Arab Spring, El-Tayeb was outspoken against the Muslim brotherhood and also supported the removal of, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, from the post of Egyptian president.