Sh. Salman Ranks Higher than Ever in 'Muslim 500'
  • Wed, 11/20/2013
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Sheikh Salman al-Oadah has been ranked as the 16th most influential Muslim in the world, the highest ranking he has yet received in The Muslim 500 since its inaugural volume back in 2009.

The Muslim 500: 2013 is the fifth annual edition of a publication that sets out to ascertain the influence Muslims have in the world. This list attempts to shed some light on the many challenges and pioneering triumphs that are present at the very crux of shaping the Muslim community.

In the first volume, published in 2009 in cooperation with Georgetown University's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Sheikh Salman was also ranked as number 19. The 2009 edition was highly popular, with its e-book version being downloaded more than 150,000 times.

In the second volume, 2010, he was ranked at 25. His rank in 2011 was again 19, and in 2012 it was 20.

Influence is defined as the power “to make a change that will have a significant impact on the Muslim World” whether that power be “cultural, ideological, financial, political or otherwise.”

The Top 50 are dominated by religious scholars and heads of state, but include influential Muslims from all categories.

The remaining 450 are presented in chapters covering a range of categories of influence, 13 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 Reciters, Media, Celebrities and Sports Stars, Extremists, and Issues of the Day.

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 amount of sales etc, but more often it is related to the qualitative and lasting effect of that influence.

The ranking is followed by a number of articles addressing "Issues of the Day".

Sheikh Salman is identified again this year as a "Saudi scholar and educator" and is described as an "advocate of peaceful coexistence."

The book cites him as being “increasingly influential due to his innovative reach in the Muslim world propagated via IslamToday.net and his persistent efforts at ministering to the needs of the global Muslim community.”

The key to this influence is identified with Sheikh Salman’s use of modern media technology, referred to as "virtual Islamic resources." His activities are described as follows:
Sheikh Al Ouda supervises all content published on IslamToday.net—a website that offers virtual resources for Islamic education in multiple languages. His work has far-reaching impact in an age when religion is spread through media and technology, with Islam-Today.net at the forefront of this trend. In response to a February 2010 ruling from the Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee condemning the use of Facebook, Sheikh Al Ouda defended the social networking website, stating that he uses it to communicate with Muslims across the globe and to provide Islamic guidance online. Sheikh Al Ouda has a following of over one and a half half a million on Facebook and nearly that many views of his official videos on YouTube. He also has over 3 million followers on Twitter.
He is also described as an "innovative educator" who has become "an authority for Muslims and non- Muslims worldwide."

In the earliest editions of The Muslim 500, Sheikh Salman was described as an "advocate of non-violence". Later editions have changed this to "ambassador of non-violence" citing his prominent role as a delegate and representative of the International Union for Muslim Scholars. It reads: "Al Ouda is outspoken about the importance of inculcating love and mercy as opposed to violence (except in valid cases of self-defence) in the daily lives of Muslims. As a prominent member of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, he led the delegation in talks with Arab heads of state regarding the need for them to unite in opposition to Israel’s siege of Gaza in early 2009."

Topping the list this year is Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad Al-Tayyeb, Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque. He is followed by HRH King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.