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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Six Caribbean persons among the 500 most influential Muslims in the world

By Alim Ali

AMMAN, Jordan -- The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World (2009 Edition) is a first of its kind published by the Prince Al-waleed Bin Talaal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding of Georgetown University, Washington DC in conjunction with the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan.

The introduction to the publication states that it “provides a window into the movers and shakers of the Muslim world. We have strived to highlight people who are influential as Muslims, that is, people whose influence is derived from their practice of Islam or from the fact that they are Muslim. We think that this gives valuable insight into the different ways that Muslims impact the world, and also shows the diversity of how people are living as Muslims today.”

Six persons from the Caribbean made the list, two from Jamaica, one from Trinidad, one from Guyana as well as two persons of Guyanese origin -- one resident in USA the other in Canada.

 As a first attempt there may be some glaring omissionsand to cater for this possibility the publishers “acknowledge that there are likely to be gaps in our categorizing, and are sure that we have missed some influential people. We would like to keep the process as open as possible and ask you to please write in suggestions to

Interest in Caribbean Muslims caught the attention of many in Jordan and especially the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISSC) after Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo visited Jordan in March of 2009. It was also during this visit that Jordan’s Prince Ghazi offered 5 scholarships to Guyanese students wishing to pursue Islamic Studies.

The Caribbean Muslims making the lists are:

Muhammad, Mustafa
Muhammad has been the President of the Islamic Council of Jamaica for the past 14 years. His work involves education and halal certification. He oversees the eleven mosques in Jamaica. An estimated 5,000 Muslims regularly attend mosques in Jamaica.

Tijani, Marufat
Tijani is the Principal of the Islamiyah Basic School with the Islamic Council of Jamaica. Although it is a one-room school, its role as the only basic school for Muslim-specific education dedicated to teaching Arabic and other basic skills is important.

Ali, Yacoob
Ali is the President of the largest and most influential Muslim organization in Trinidad and Tobago, the Anjuman Sunnat ul Jamaat Association (ASJA) which was founded in 1936. The Muslim community in Trinidad and Tobago is largely comprised of people of Indian descent. His organization runs numerous schools and focuses on the importance of education for Muslim youth.

Shah, Ryhaan
Ryhaan Shah is considered among the best contemporary writers in Guyana and the Caribbean, best known for her 2005 novel A Silent Life. Shah is also an active public figure as the president of the Guyanese Indian Heritage Association.

Khan, Faizul
Faizul Khan has been credited with founding an Islamic school in Guyana at the age of 17 and has played a strategic role in developing Muslim institutions both locally and abroad—particularly in the US, where he is chapter member of the Islamic Society of North America.

Baksh, Nazim
Baksh is a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television and radio producer specializing in root causes of terrorism. He also covers issues relating to traditionalist Islam. He is a former Massey Fellow and has produced the international affairs radio program ‘Dispatches’ since 2000.

The full list is available on the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre website (