Foreign Policy: 2009’s Top Muslim Thinkers

Foreign Policy: 2009’s Top Muslim Thinkers

 The influential Foreign Policy magazine has issued a list of the “100 Top Global Thinkers,” reserving ten places for Muslim professors, scholars, politicians, bankers and journalists.

Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, came third on the list just after Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke for staving off “preventing the collapse of the US economy” and President Barack Obama “for reimagining America’s role in the world.”

The US magazine described Rahnavard as “the brains behind Iran’s Green Revolution” and the campaign of her husband.

Dubbed Iran’s Michelle Obama, Rahnavard campaigned for her husband who contested the disputed June presidential elections.

A holder of a PhD in political science, the 64-year-old woman served as an advisor to Mohamed Khatami, who was president of Iran from 1997 to 2005.

Rahnavard is a Qur’an researcher and authored several books on art and politics.

An advocate of women rights, she has long campaigned for the economic empowerment of women and changing Iran’s laws deemed discriminatory to women.

Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, the spiritual leader of Egypt’s Jihad militant group, came 10th on the US magazine’s first annual list of the 100 top global thinkers.


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“He composed Rationalizing Jihad in Egypt and the World, a comprehensive revision of his previous support for religious war,” it said.

Imam, an early founder of Al-Qaeda with his old associate Ayman al-Zawahiri, now Al-Qaeda’s number two, authored two books seen as the ideological foundations for Jihad.

But in November 2007, he publicly acknowledged changing his earlier understanding, calling for rationalizing Jihad.

“The work, which has spread like wildfire through jihadi circles, undermines the legitimacy of Al-Qaeda and like-minded groups by using their own theological narrative against them,” said Foreign Policy.


American Muslim economist Mohamed El-Erian came 16th on the Foreign Policy magazine “100 Top Global Thinkers” list.

“El-Erian co-directs one of the world’s most successful investment companies: Pimco, the Pacific Investment Management Company, which manages a whopping $842 billion in assets.”

A specialist in emerging markets at the International Monetary Fund, he became the head of Harvard’s endowment before joining the corporate world.

His investment strategies are credited for helping turn Pimco into the world’s largest bond fund.

Former Afghan finance minister Ashraf Ghani ranked 20th on the list for his efforts to root out corruption.

The American magazine also listed former Malaysian deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim 32th for his pro-democracy struggle.

Renowned journalist Fareed Zakaria, an American of Indian Muslim origins, came at the 37th rank for defining the limits of American power and convening the smartest public conversation about it.

Bangladeshi banker and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus came 46th on the list for his role in fighting poverty.

“Yunus might be the only banker to escape the financial crisis not just unscathed, but noticeably buoyant.”

Dubbed “banker of the poor,” the former economics professor and his Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel prize for grassroots efforts to lift millions out of poverty.

The bank, which targets women because it believes they are better than men at running family finances, offers tiny loans to poor borrowers to help them become self-employed.

Compatible Islam

Swiss Muslim thinker Tariq Ramadan came 49th on the Foreign Policy magazine “100 Top Global Thinkers” list.

It said Ramadan has dedicated his life to prove that Islam is compatible to Western life.

“Ramadan wants to articulate an Islam that is compatible with the liberal democracies of Europe (where he grew up and now lives), one that advocates an end to victimhood and engages with the world’s political reality.”

A Swiss citizen of Egyptian origin, Ramadan is one of Europe’s leading Muslim thinkers and has often condemned terrorism and extremism.

He is also a professor of Islamic studies at Oxford University and a research fellow at Doshisha University in Japan.

The author of 20 books and 700 articles on Islam, he was named by Time magazine as one of 100 innovators of the 21st century for his work on creating an independent European Islam.

“For his entire life, this grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna has been called a walking contradiction: an Islamic intellectual who espouses democracy but believes religious law is universal.”

Pakistani writer Ahmed Rashid came 51th on the list for his distinguished writing about the global perils of South Asia.

The magazine also listed Palestinian Premier Salam Fayyad 61th for showing how to govern effectively in the middle of a conflict.

The Source