Issues of the day 2009

This list includes influential leaders from the Top 50 and following categorized lists who have been key figures, or whose influence has been pertinent, in major world events and topical issues in the past year.




The ‘a common word’ group. This group of 138 Islamic scholars and clerics is the catalyst behind a global bridge-building effort between Christians and Muslims. ‘A Common Word Between Us and You’ is an open letter issued from the Muslim leaders to Christians about the common ground between both religious communities, highlighting points of commonality found in the commandment to love God and one’s neighbor. (




Nasr, Seyyid Hossein

Nasr has tackled issues regarding the environment from a scholarly perspective, leading a movement to use Islamic teachings to help in the fight against climate change. The term he employs is ‘eco-theology’. His is an important contribution in advocacy that promotes environmentalism underscored as a matter of religious duty.




Esack, Farid

Farid Esack run a faith-based organization in the field of HIV and AIDS. His organization, Positive Muslims, was established in 2000. It offers services from an Islamic perspective. Encouraging compassion, mercy and non-judgementalism towards all humankind. South Africa is one of the areas worst affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.



Aghazadeh, Gholam Reza

Gholam Reza Aghazadeh has been the vice president of the Atomic Energy Organization in Iran since 1997 and is now president of the organization, which is responsible for all nuclear energy operations in the country. He has held various top positions in the post-revolution Iranian government, including Minister of Petroleum.




Houthi, Abdul-Malik

Houthi is the leading figure in an insurgency in Sadah province in northern Yemen which has been continuing from 2004 to the present day. The uprising has been called the Houthi Rebellion due to his leadership. The Zaidi community comprises around half of the population of Yemen, concentrated in the north. In traditional Zaidi religious belief if there is no clear leader for the

Zaidi community a Caliph can emerge through armed struggle. Yemen was formerly under the control of a Zaidi Caliph; the Zaidi Caliphate ended in 1962. His brothers Yahia Badreddin and Abdul-Karim are also leaders in the insurgency.




haniyah, ismail

Haniyah is a senior political leader of Hamas and one of two disputed prime ministers of the Palestinian National Authority, the matter being under political and legal dispute. President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed Haniyah from office on 14 June 2007 at the height of the Fatah-Hamas conflict, but Haniyah did not acknowledge the decree and continues to exercise prime ministerial authority in the Gaza Strip. Haniyah was a key figure in Palestinian leadership during the Gaza siege.




Yunus, Dr Muhammad

Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi banker and economist, as well as the founder of Grameen Bank, and is known for his pioneering efforts in microcredit. He is a founding member of Global Elders, a group of global leaders dedicated to solving global problems, and serves on the board of directors of the United Nations Foundation, a public charity. Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to create economic and social development. His banking is not strictly sharia compliant since it is based around taking interest, but some commentators have called it sharia-based because of the pro-poor nature of the bank’s work. He is currently seeking an endowment to make a sharia compliant micro-credit institution.




Ozdemir, Mahinur

Ozdemir is a young politician and Europe’s first hijab-wearing minister of parliament. She was sworn in to parliament, while wearing a headscarf, in Belgium. The event garnered mass interest in Turkey, where Merve Kavakçi was denied the right to swear her oath of office because of her hijab. Ozdemir is of Turkish origin. She is a member of the Francophone Christian Democrat party.




Younis, Ahmed

Younis is the young former national director of Muslim Public Affairs Council in the United States (MPAC). His current job is to create strategic partnerships at Silatech, an organization that recently started to push for greater youth employment in the Middle East and North Africa. These regions in particular have some of the world’s highest youth unemployment rates.




Patel, Ebrahim

Patel is currently one of South Africa’s most important figures. He is the minister for economic development, and former spokesperson for COSATU, the umbrella organization for South African Trade Unions. His experience and position are critical at present because of the huge unemployment rates in South Africa.




Pandith, Farah

Pandith was the senior adviser on Muslim engagement in the European and Eurasian region at the State Department. This position was created for the first time in US history. Prior to the State Department, she served on the National Security Council at the White House where she worked on Muslim engagement and combating extremism. She worked at the US Agency for International Development in the early 1990s and again in 2003. She also served in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2004. Pandith immigrated to the United States with her parents from Srinagar, India. She has said that she sees her personal experience as an illustration of how Muslim immigrants to the US can successfully integrate into American society.


Uighur-Chinese Relations


Kadeer, Rebiya

Kadeer is the de facto leader of the movement for social justice for the 8 million strong Uighur ethnic-population of China. She was formerly a successful businesswoman but was imprisoned in 2000 for leaking state secrets and now lives in exile in the United States. She is well known for her work in Europe and North America publicizing the plight of the Uighur ethnic group, and is partially responsible for raising the issue’s status both in China and abroad. The Chinese government sees Kadeer as an agitator.