Do You Know World’s Top 10 Public Intellectuals are Muslims!
Public intellectuals have a pivotal role to play in shaping the social narratives and influencing the public opinions regardless of their field of expertise, profession or occupation. In a social setup, proliferated with dissident points of view, such figures remain highly objective and endeavor to address the societal issues while speaking for the voiceless, the vulnerable and the marginalized. Compiling ranking lists is always fraught with risks as such hierarchical nominations are bound to generate a fair amount of debate. However, quite recently, a survey was conducted, spanning almost a month, to choose the top public intellectuals. The results churned out in the survey were quite unanimous as the top 10 public intellectuals of the world turned out to be all Muslims.
1 – Fethullah GulenReligious Preacher – Turkey
Currently in the midst of a self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, Gulen is a famous Turkish scholar and the founder of the Gulen movement. His followers in Turkey and all over the globe number in millions. Despite undergoing the exile, Gulen is still believed to enjoy a considerable amount of clout in the Turkish politics. He is a proponent of a life guided by modern principles of Islam. Fethullah Gulen was pronounced as one of the most important Muslim figures in 2008 by the Economist.
2 – Muhammad YunusSocial Entrepreneur – Bangladesh
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in the year 2006 and the founder of the Grameen Bank, Yunus is a banker and an economist and is considered a pioneer of the concepts of microfinance. Yunus started off by lending $27 to 42 poor women which led into the realization of one of the biggest microcredit institutions in the world. With branches in over 100 countries, Grameen Bank has loaned almost $7 billion to about 7 million poor, 97 per cent of which are women. The recovery and repayment rate of these loans is a staggering 98 per cent.
3 – Youssef al-QaradawiTheologian – Egypt
Writer of more than 120 books, Chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, host of the program Shariah and Life on Al Jazeera with an estimated audience of 60 million worldwide and the man behind IslamOnline, Qaradawi is considered one of the most influential scholars in the modern day world. Considered the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaradawi’s views have ignited numerous controversies in the West.
4 – Orhan PamukNovelist – Turkey
Turkey’s first Nobel laureate and the country’s best-selling writer with over eleven million books sold in more than sixty languages, Orhan is currently teaching writing and comparative literature at the Columbia University. In 2011, Pamuk was sued over his statement regarding the Armenian genocide during the Ottoman Empire. His writings mainly encompass Turkey’s relationship with religion, democracy and modernity.
5 – Aitzaz AhsanLawyer – Pakistan
Activist and constitutional-theorist, Aitzaz Ahsan served as the the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association and was the leading figure in the Lawyer’s Movement that vociferously demanded the reinstatement of the Chief Justice of Pakistan after being dismissed by the President in the year 2007. He is one of the country’s most prominent politicians who had a key role to play in the restoration of an independent judiciary and democracy in Pakistan.
6 – Amr KhaledTelevangelist – Egypt
Described as the world’s most influential and famous Muslim television preacher by the New York Times Magazine in 2006 and also chosen as the world’s 100 most influential people by the Time Magazine in 2007, Amr Khalid’s model, “life makers,” encourages Muslims to implement action plans for transforming their lives and communities through Islam. He blends messages of cultural integration and hard work with lessons on how to lead a moderate Islamic life.
7 – Abdolkarim SoroushReformer, Thinker – Iran
Soroush is the most influential figure in the religious intellectual movement in Iran and is associated with University of Maryland, Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Columbia for the Study of Islam in the Modern World. He is named by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2005 and by Prospect magazine as one of the most influential intellectuals in the world in 2008.
8 – Tariq RamadanPhilosopher, Writer – Switzerland
A professor Contemporary Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford and also linked to universities in Qatar, Morocco and Malaysia, Ramadan was elected in 2004 by the TIme Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world and also as one of the top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine. He is considered an advocate of for Muslim integration in Europe and claims to bridge the cultural and religious clash between the Islam and the West.
9 – Mahmood MamdaniAnthropologist – Uganda
Professor of Anthropology at the Columbia University, Mamdani is strong proponent of the idea that modern terrorism is a by-product of the privatization of violence in the final years of cold war. He was born in Uganda to Asian parents but was ousted from the country in 1972. His essays have been published in the London Review of Books, among other journals.
10 – Shirin EbadiHuman Rights Activist – Iran
Iran’s first female judge under the shah, Ebadi founded a pioneering law practice after she was thrown off the bench by Iran’s clerical rulers. Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts for democracy and human rights in 2003. In 2004, she was listed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world and has also been included in a the 100 most influential women of all time.