Muslims Top World Intellectuals & Newspapers

CAIRO — Muslim scholars, politicians, economists, scientists and scholars from around the world are topping the list of the world's Top 20 Public Intellectuals unveiled on Monday, June 23.

"The top 10 public intellectuals in this year’s reader poll are all Muslim," the American magazine Foreign policy said announcing the list.

Foreign policy, the award-winning magazine of global politics, and Britain's Prospect magazine have conducted a global public poll to pick the world's top intellectuals and thinkers who are shaping the tenor of our time with their ideas.

Over the past four weeks, more than 500,000 people voted for their top choices from the original long list of 100 figures.

Turkey's influential Fethullah Gülen topped the list, the magazines' second in three years.

"An Islamic scholar with a global network of millions of followers, Gülen is both revered and reviled in his native Turkey," Foreign Policy said introducing Gülen.

"To members of the Gülen movement, he is an inspirational leader who encourages a life guided by moderate Islamic principles. To his detractors, he represents a threat to Turkey’s secular order."

Prominent scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi was voted the third top intellectual in the world.

"The host of the popular Shari`ah and Life TV program on Al Jazeera, Qaradawi issues weekly fatwas on everything from whether Islam forbids all consumption of alcohol…to whether fighting US troops in Iraq is a legitimate form of resistance," said Foreign Policy.

Egypt's young televangelist Amr Khaled came sixth.

"With a charismatic oratory and casual style, Khaled blends messages of cultural integration and hard work with lessons on how to live a purpose-driven Islamic life," the magazine said.


The top ten Muslims were not all scholars.

Noble laureate Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist who pioneered the microfinance industry, was voted the second top intellectual in the world.

"More than 30 years ago, Yunus loaned several dozen poor entrepreneurs in his native Bangladesh a total of $27. It was the beginning of a lifetime devoted to fighting poverty through microfinance," said the Foreign Policy.

From economy to literature, Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, who is also a Noble laureate, took the fourth spot on the list.

"His skillfully crafted works lay bare his native country’s thorny relationship with religion, democracy, and modernity, earning him a Nobel Prize in literature in 2006."

Notable Pakistani politician and rights activist Aitzaz Ahsan was ranked fifth among the world's top intellectuals.

"President of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar Association, Ahsan has been a vocal opponent of President Pervez Musharraf’s rule," said the American magazine.

"When Musharraf dismissed the head of the Supreme Court in March 2007, it was Ahsan who led the legal challenge to reinstate the chief justice and rallied thousands of lawyers who took to the streets in protest."

Iranian philosopher Abdolkarim Soroush and renowned Swiss scholar Tariq Ramadan came seven and eight respectively.

Ugandan anthropologist Mahmood Mamdani came ninth.

"His work explores the role of citizenship, identity, and the creation of historical narratives in postcolonial Africa."

Another Muslim human rights activist who made it to the world's Top 20 Public Intellectuals is Shirin Ebadi, Iran's first female judge who came in the tenth spot.

"A fierce nationalist who sees no incompatibility between Islam and democracy, Ebadi became the first Iranian to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003."


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