President Muhammadu Buhari, the Sultan of Sokoto and President of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar were the only Nigerians listed in the rankings among the top 50 influential Muslim leaders in the world.
A renowned Maiduguri based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ibrahim Salih however dropped from the first 50 but was listed among the top 500.
They were listed in the 9th edition of the annual “The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims” 2018 formally released on Thursday.
It said that apart from being citizens of their respective countries, those recognised also have a sense of belonging to Muslim community worldwide.
It among others measured influence to include; 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.
It however, added that the impact can be either positive or negative, depending on one’s point of view.
“The first two examples also point to the fact that the lists, and especially 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,” it said.
It listed 13 criteria scholarly, political, administration of religious affairs, preachers and spiritual guides, philanthropy/charity and development, social issues, business, science and technology, arts and culture, Qur’an reciters, media, celebrities and sports stars, and extremists where those ranked were selected from.
While President Buhari was listed as number 19 (17 last year and 20 in 2016 even as a first timer) in the rankings, the Sultan whose highest ranking was in 2009 at number 16, was listed as 23 (22 last year and 24 in 2016).
The publication list Professor Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad Al-Tayyeb the Grand Sheikh of the Al-Azhar University and Grand Imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque as number one, retaining his 2017 position.
King Salman Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia however emerged the second after displacing King Abdullah Al-Hussein of Jordan to the third position. The Jordanian King was number one on 2016.
The duo of the Iranian Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Hajj Sayyid Ali Khamenei and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came fourth and fifth respectively.
In a short citation the publication recognised President Buhari’s past military career, his anti-corruption credentials and his promise and subsequent efforts to deal with the insurgent group, Boko Haram and the economy and infrastructure.
Other Nigerians on the ranking are Dr. Ibrahim Datti Ahmed, Prince Bola Ajibola, Imam Muhammad Ashafa, Sheikh Tahir Usman Bauchi, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Sheikh Yakubu Musa Katsina, Prof Ishaq Olanrewaju Oloyede, Emir of Kano Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and Shiite leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky.