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Top Ten People Who Influenced my understanding of Islam – Ismail Kamdar


After reading the 500 most influential Muslims list, I began thinking of the people who have had the most influence on my understanding and practice of Islam. I have been searching for the true understanding of Islam since the age of sixteen and since that time, many people have influenced me in different ways. I began to realize that nobody is perfect and you will find things you disagree with in everybody you meet so instead of looking for the perfect scholar, I started taking the best from everyone.

So here are my Top Ten people who influenced my understanding and practice of Islam, note that I do not agree with everything each of them says or believes but I can not deny the positive influence they have had on my life:

10. Yusuf Estes

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The one thing I love most about Yusuf Estes is that he is one of those people around whom I feel Iman in the air. I can’t explain it but it’s almost as if I can feel the angels of mercy near us whenever I am with him and my heart begins to feel at ease. He influenced me, mainly by teaching me to appreciate Islam and treasure it.

Also he is the first person to ever call me Abu Muawiyah, although he probably doesn’t remember it. I also love his sense of humor, his lectures are hilarious!

9. Baba Ali

Another funny guy, Baba Ali has taught me so much through his video blogs, and I am sure I am not alone in saying that since he has over 5 million video views and has made the Top 500 most influential people list at such a young age. Most importantly, he taught me that we can be cool, funny and enjoy life without compromising our deen, and he has shown me the funny side of the problems facing the ummah. When choosing topics for my own lectures, I tend to look at topics he has discussed in his videos.

8. Yasir Qadhi

Yasir Qadhi taught me tolerance and how to deal with people who have different beliefs in a civilized manner. Thanks to his influence, I am now a lot friendlier to people from different groups than I was back when I first started discovering the incorrect and wrong beliefs I had been taught by some of my teachers, so he gets props for helping me become a nicer guy. I also benefited greatly from his lectures on Aqeedah.

7. Kamal El-Mekki

I love this man or the sake of Allah. I love his charisma, his style, his humor, his knowledge, his poetry, his hairstyle and most of all I love his manners. He is my role model in good manners and I want to emulate his nice and friendly manner of treating people. I am lucky enough to have studied two Al-Kauthar courses under him and wish I could spend more time with him. If a new Kamal El-Mekki lecture is released online, be sure I am one of the first to download and listen to it.

6. Dr Yusuf Al-Qaradawi

My first exposure outside the Deobandi school of thought was through Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s book Halal and Haram in Islam. At that time, I hated the book and couldn’t believe the fatwas he gave as his understanding was completely opposite to how I had been taught and raised. Now seven years later, I’ve read the book again and find that much of what he said was correct, I just didn’t know it back then.

Of course, there are still rulings in that book that I disagree with but no where near as much as I did before. Al-Qaradawi influenced me by making me question, think outside the box and realize the diversity of opinions in this ummah, and that what I was raised with is not necessarily correct. This man is number 9 in the list of the Top 500 most influential Muslims of our time.

5. Zain Bhikha

Why is a nasheed singer so high on my list? Because he influenced me long before I was old enough to listen to lectures. I grew up with nasheeds by Zain Bhikha and Dawud Wharnsby and these were my substitute for Haraam music. Alhamdulillah, these songs helped shape me into a better young Muslim. My children are luckier, in that they can grow up watching “Enjoying Islam with Zain and Dawud” (A new children’s TV show on PEACE TV) and benefit even more from them.

When I met Zain Bhikha at the Peace Conference in Mumbai 2007, the one thing that struck me about him was his humility. He is just such a nice down-to-earth guy. If you met him on the streets, you would never guess that he is a world-renowned singer or one of the Top 500 most influential Muslims. His humility would shine through every time I saw him, especially when I saw a picture of him teaching underprivileged children in South Africa while sitting happily on the floor in their house. No matter where I go in life, I want to be as humble as him always, if not more. I am also inspired by all the social work he does.

4. Dawud Wharnsby

I couldn’t decide which of these two singers should be higher on my list, but I chose Dawud for two reasons. Firstly, my oldest Islamic memory is listening to “Animals Love to Hear Quran” and “Sing Children of the World” when I was six years old, so his influence predates that of Zain Bhikha. Secondly, I benefited from his lectures as much as I did from his songs, so that gives him an edge over Zain.

I may not agree with everything Dawud believes but the main thing he taught me was the beauty of just being a nice person and the effect that can have on others. Every time I look at Dawud, I think he is such a nice sweet sincere man and I want to be like him in that sense, so Dawud has influenced my character. He also taught me not to judge other people’s intentions and to look at the good in others. This has helped me greatly in developing into a better person.

3. Shaykh Salman Al-Oudah

He is number 19 on the Top 500 most influential people of our time, and he has influenced me greatly. I did not know much about him before he visited South Africa in 2008, but when I attended his lectures, my mind was opened to new ideas. I found myself spending many days reading his books and his articles on his website Islam Today. His influence has helped me develop and move away from extremist tendencies into a more peaceful and loving understanding of Islam. I use to believe some extreme things about Jihad but this man’s lectures, books and articles taught me the balanced understanding and the peaceful teachings of Islam.

2. Ahmed Deedat (May Allah grant him Paradise)

Ahmed Deedat answered questions that were burning in my mind since the age of seven, “How do we know our religion is right and the others are wrong?” It was Deedat’s debates and lectures that answered that question satisfactorily and that led me to believing in Islam wholeheartedly, rather than just as the religion of my forefathers. Deedat influenced me in other ways as well.

Allah used Deedat to light the fire of Dawah in my heart at the age of sixteen and since then I have never stopped performing Dawah. Deedat always emphasized that we must read the Quran with understanding and that led me to doing so which opened up a whole new world of Islam to me. Deedat’s life story also showed me that if I wish to follow in his footsteps I must be prepared for tough times and tests from Allah.

As you can see, Ahmed Deedat had the biggest impact on my life except…

1. Dr Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips

Before meeting Dr Bilal, I had no principles and no direction, I was seeking the truth but had no clear method of finding it. Alhamdulillah, through his IOU (Islamic Online University) and my personal meetings and studies under him, I was able to learn the pure Aqeedah of Islam and the principles of Aqeedah, Fiqh, Tafsir and Hadith, which gave me the foundations to grow and guidelines to follow in my study of Islam.

In the end, I have listened to more lectures by him, read more books by him, completed more courses under him, spent more time with him and asked more questions to him than any of my other teachers. That is why he deserves the number one spot on this list.

I hope you enjoyed and benefited from this list. The purpose of this list was to highlight the people that have influenced me so you too, can be influenced but remember nobody is perfect and many of the people on this list have some beliefs or opinions that I might disagree with, but in the end their positive impact on me overshadows their faults by far.

I ask Allah to reward all of my teachers and anybody who has assisted in making me a better Muslim and to forgive all of their mistakes and sins, and to unite us with them in Paradise when the time comes. Ameen.

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Shaykh Ismail Kamdar is the Books PO at Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. He is also the founder of Islamic Self Help and Izzah Academy. He completed the Alimiyyah Program in 2006, and a BA in Islamic Studies in 2014, specializing in Fiqh, Tafsir, and History. He is the author of over a dozen books in the fields of Islamic Studies and personal development.



  1. Abd- Allah

    February 14, 2010 at 12:23 PM

    I began to realize that nobody is perfect and you will find things you disagree with in everybody you meet so instead of looking for the perfect scholar, I started taking the best from everyone.

    Akhi Ismail, you should have looked for the perfect methodology or way of understanding Islam rather than looking for the perfect scholar. As you indicated and I agree, there is no perfect scholar, but not because you disagree with them on certain issues, but rather because no one after the Prophet peace be upon him does not err. Even Abu Baker may Allah be pleased with him is not perfect. That is why following any person other than the Prophet peace be upon him is wrong. Therefore, a person should figure out which way or methodology is the best in understanding Islam and which scholars abide by that proper methodology and take knowledge from them only.

    Taking knowledge from everyone is not a good approach, because in reality you will be taking that which appeals to you while it might not be correct. Let me ask you, how do you know what is right and what is wrong so that you can take “the best from everyone” ? You might think that if you take knowledge from everyone, from scholars that belong to different sects, that you yourself are not part of any of these sects and don’t belong to any of them, but reality is that this is a whole new sect on its own where people take a mix and match approach to taking knowledge from the scholars of different sects.

    One thing to always keep in mind is the statement of Ibn Seereen rahimahullah that “Indeed, this knowledge Is Deen, So Look To The One You Take Your Deen From.”

    Another thing to keep in mind is that just because some one made the top list of most influential Muslims is not necessarily something good. Just as influence can be good, it can be bad too, not to mention that how influential a person might be is not a measure of how correct they are or if they are even upon the right methodology. A lot of people are mislead when they see that a certain scholar has a big number of followers and thus, he is very influential, so they think that if so many people follow him then he has to be right and upon the truth. The criteria to determine the truth is not how many people believe in it or follow it, for as the Prophet peace be upon him says, “The nations were shown to me and I saw a Prophet with a small band of followers, and a Prophet with one or two men with him, and a Prophet who had no one with him.” So even though all the Prophets peace be upon them came with the same message and they were all upon the truth and calling to that same truth, yet some had more followers than others, and some even had no followers at all !! This shows that the truth does not always lie in numbers, but unfortunately a lot of people are usually mislead by thinking that more people and more number of followers means that whatever or whomever is being followed is upon the truth.

    Allah knows best.

    • Amad

      February 14, 2010 at 12:56 PM

      So Br. Abd-Allah, who is the carrier of the perfect manhaj in your view today?

      • Abd- Allah

        February 14, 2010 at 1:14 PM

        Akhi Amad, the correct manhaj is not carried by people, but rather it is the people that abide by it and follow it. In my view, the Shuyukh Al-Albani, Bin Baaz, Ibn Uthaymeen, Wadi’ee.. were among the scholars who abided by the correct manhaj during our recent times. And therefore those whom these Shuyukh criticized and refuted do not abide by that same manhaj, and I do not mean they disagreed with them on minor issues of fiqh, but rather on major issues of Aqeedah or methodology.

        Do you not agree with me, brother Amad, that each sect that exists today has its own manhaj, and that all these different and conflicting manaahij can’t all be correct?

        • Amad

          February 14, 2010 at 1:40 PM

          What I am thinking is how an innocuous post has the potential to become a manhaj discussion.

          I also recommend brevity in comments, something I have learned over time. It really helps if one wants people to read one’s comments.

          • Abd- Allah

            February 14, 2010 at 1:51 PM

            Thanks for completely avoiding my question akhi Amad!

            I agree that keeping the comment short is better, but sometimes you have to explain in details the points you are trying to make so that they are understood properly.

            Besides, what is wrong with a healthy and civilized discussion on manhaj? It might be more related to the post than you think.

            I think the problem is that we became used to empty discussions where people just throw claims without backing them with proof, and that is why we don’t engage in beneficial discussions anymore out of fear that it will turn into just another argument.

          • Amad

            February 14, 2010 at 2:07 PM

            Different people influence us in different times of our lives. Even negative personalities (overall) can have a positive effect. I am sure Elijah Mohamed for instance was a huge influence on Malcolm X, even though they were world apart in their Islamic beliefs (as expressed).

      • Yus from the Nati

        February 14, 2010 at 1:14 PM

        You know what would be an interesting piece. If someone gave wrote about the context, situation at the time, and who Ibn Sireen رحم الله was referring to at the time. This is a commonly thrown around statement and applied very restrictively in our times.

        • Abd- Allah

          February 14, 2010 at 1:30 PM

          Akhi Yus, this statement of Ibn Sireen rahimahullah has already been talked about and discussed by many scholars in their lectures and books. Imam Muslim rahimahullah also included it in the introduction to his ‘Sahih’. Although it is ‘a commonly thrown around statement’ yet it fits the context which it is usually used in, which is that of taking knowledge pertaining to the deen. The context of this statement is a general one, and it is not restricted to something specific. Similar statements were also related from several other scholars of the past such as Imam Malik rahimahullah that he said, “Fear Allah and look to whom you take from regarding this matter (meaning knowledge in the deen).”

          • Abdus Sabur

            February 14, 2010 at 4:50 PM

            Only a week or two ago I discovered this site and from my observation no matter what is posted someone takes the opportunity to look for some sort of thing in it to dispute it. There is so much wasted time and energy bickering like children over fine points that really don’t resolve anything but lead to more redundant disputations. Subhanallah, it seems that we learn nothing at all….that we just float through this life, arrogantly, dissing this one, point out the mistake of that one. To be honest with you, I’m getting too old for this nonsense. This is nothing more than playground psychotics. Let’s grow up, be adults and look at the log in our own eye rather than the spinter in our brothers/sisters eye.

          • Abu Muawiyah

            February 15, 2010 at 12:05 AM

            As Salaamu Alaikum Akhi Abd-Allah

            I have studied the correct methodology under Dr Bilal Philips (although I have a feeling you might not agree he has the correct methodology) and using those Usool (principles) I listen to lectures and read the books of many different people, taking the best of their work and implementing it in my life.

            Understand that I use to be a Deobandi Moulana before deciding to seek the truth and all these people helped open my eyes and show me different angles of Islam and get me thinking and re-evaluating.

            May Allah guide us all to that which is best

    • Very Sad

      February 16, 2010 at 9:16 AM


      It’s more than knowledge, it’s also tazkiya. You can have the knowledge of Khidr, but if you don’t have the adab to go with it, then it’s useless. If any individual thinks that he knows it all, and that he is correct 100% of the time, then that means he/she has a serious problem with his tazkiya. And Allah knows best.

    • Muhammad Elijah

      March 31, 2010 at 12:28 AM

      Assalaamu ‘Alaikum Akhee
      You gave words to the cry of my heart. Never stop doing this.

    • Kakar Kahn

      June 17, 2010 at 3:47 AM

      Assalamu Alaykum,
      Oh, well, really? Are you the follower of the past scholars like Ibn Baaz, Ibn Qayyim…?
      If you are then how come you don’t act upon what they always emphasised on?
      Ibn Qayyim mentioned some steps shaytan traps a person : Shaytan and his agents from among the jins and ins (humans) circulate rumors against u and call you misguided…rah rah rah.
      I feel, you’re working as one of the agents of Shaytan, sorry!
      Instead of worryin over others, learn Islam and learn how the past scholars were careful sayin anything against their fellow brothers!!
      Who are you to say anything against any scholar, by the bye?
      How much you’ve achieved in ur life?
      Any new Shadah, in the recent past?
      Yeah, whatever…their sins are nothin in comparison with our sins, understand?
      And, when you ask Allah to guide u to the guided ones, He does guide you to them!! I asked Allah and keep on askin Him to guide me to the guided ones, Why will Allah not grant that prayer of mine??
      And, it’s not about how many poeple follow them, it’s about different teachers sayin the same thing that I find in the Sunnah and the Quran!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Answer, please!! I don’t mind how lengthy ur comment is, becasue, only RasulAllah had that art!
      Wassalamu alaykum

      • Muhammad Elijah

        June 19, 2010 at 6:28 AM

        Assalaamu ‘Alaikum brother

        Your emotions are noble. And you can convey your thoughts in a more calm manner InshaAllaah.

        • Kakar

          October 13, 2010 at 7:46 PM

          Mr Elijah – the most Judgemental person, who are you to conclude if my emotions are noble or not ?
          I would not like my parents to decide my matters because they can’t see and know everything. Allah alone is the One to Judge me, because, I turst Him and because, He alone is perfect.

          And, if you’re the true and sincere Judge then tell the admin of MuslimMatters and the moderators not to publish the comments that are full of accusations, right ?

          Allah alone is the just judge and He shall decide if the one who accuses Islam’s teacher will enter Jannat or not !!

          He claims he is warnin is not to take the deen from Salman alodah …and many others.
          For Mr. Abd-Allah’s (abdullah by name only…because, the true servants of ArRahman are not as he is) information he takes it lightly to talk ill about the teachers of Islam ; while it actually can make someone’s life miserable to the point that he may quit learning Islam !!

  2. sahardid

    February 14, 2010 at 5:38 PM

    Assalaam alaykum

    I have to say that Ahmed Deedat is one of the most influential person for me (and even for some family members of mine). My dad used to say that his little brother would have the Qur’an in one hand and Achmed Deedat books in the other :-)
    Also Hamza Yusuf and later Yasir Qadhi. At first I wasn’t such a fan of Yasir, but over time my love really grew for him for the sake of Allaah, especially after checking out the tajweed series (Allaahu akbar), great help and a motivation to read more. They are both great speakers and writers.
    There are many more writers and speakers that I like, some even that I don’t, but have made my understanding of certain issues between muslims more understandable and made me more sympathetic towards it.

    DjazakaAllaahu ghair

  3. jade

    February 14, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    i like yasir’s style of educating.. he is very much like a typical university professor in his approach and that works very well for me, especially since I was so skeptical about Islam in the beginning. The pedantic, very clear and no ambiguity, and the fact he always generalize and relates back to his key big ideas.. and doesn’t stray from it.. is very easy to follow.. he explores as much areas as possible. and illuminates without fear. i like the fact that he also encourages us to check back the sources he provided.. and he makes sure to distinguish what He says and has come to conclude from what Allah says.. or an Author says.. too many people tend to collude the both..

    My parents don’t get what I like about uztaz Yasir’s lectures… but I think it is more the fact that we come from different generations.. my parents prefer the kind of lectures that gets you emotionally… and they can talk about a lecturer basking in light and aura and things like that.. and i just don’t see it.. i find that things like aura and angels presence.. whether that is really the case or imagined really has more value to the person.. than it does to me as a learner… i may be inspired to reach those levels.. but in the end the real value comes from the knowledge this person can share.. his “aura” or “presence”.. there’s nothing i can inherit from that…. and so I think there’s no point if I can’t extract the value of his teachings…

    I’ve met a couple of these ” great aura” imams.. and yes first time, second time, third time.. great aura.. fourth time.. i have to get back to reality already.. and start learning things.. i’m not there to be amazed by his “amazing-ness”.. i’m there to learn. Allah is amazing enough for me.. this being.. he or she is blessed.. and that’s that.

  4. Rehan

    February 14, 2010 at 9:59 PM

    Who’s who of Wahhabistan, thanks for sharing!

    • mystrugglewithin

      February 14, 2010 at 10:27 PM


      I’ll make dua for you inshallah :)

    • Abd- Allah

      February 14, 2010 at 10:57 PM

      Actually, I hate to prove you wrong brother Rehan, but several of those whom he mentioned in his list are not salafi, and they don’t even consider themselves to be salafis.

      Yusuf Estes has criticized those who call themselves salafis. The video is on youtube for those who want to see it.

      Yusuf Al-Qaradawi is known to be from the ikhwaan Muslimeen and is definitely not a salafi. In fact many of the salafi scholars actually refuted him.

      Salman Al-Oudah has clearly said himself that he doesn’t belong to any of the different groups and he has said that he is not a salafi. Several salafi scholars have refuted him as well.

      I will stop here because I know how much brother Amad wants people to keep their comments short and stick strictly to the topic of the post, but I think this should be enough to show you brother Rehan that you should learn more about people before you label them next time, but I guess that is typical of sufis, they label everyone who they don’t like as a “wahhabi”.

      • Scott

        February 16, 2010 at 6:18 AM

        but I guess that is typical of sufis, they label everyone who they don’t like as a “wahhabi”.

        You had such a nice post until this.

        • Abd- Allah

          February 16, 2010 at 6:32 AM

          Brother Scott, unfortunately this is the reality of the matter. From my personal experience, I have yet to come across one sufi who doesn’t call everyone and anyone who is not a sufi as a “wahhabi”. I look forward to the day when one sufi proves me wrong and doesn’t do that. You can go ahead and try it akhi, just go tell a sufi that making du’a and calling upon a dead person is shirk, and he will automatically label you as a “wahhabi”. I know not all sufis are the same, but this applies to the majority of them from my experience.

          Allah knows best.

          • Amad

            February 16, 2010 at 6:52 AM

            Ya akhi, if you just swap sufi for wahhabi in your comment, it could have been the same tirade from the “other” camp and what would have that accomplished?

            How about a cooling period of 1 week for any comments that contain labels? Try it, it might feel good :)

          • SufiSalafiTJ

            February 16, 2010 at 9:54 AM

            Brother, im a sufi. Do you even know what tasawwuf is about? Just like you got extremist salafis who call everyone kafirs, you got extremist sufis. In tasawwuf there are many many branches, just like in anything. I DO NOT CALL ON ANY DEAD PEOPLE. THEY ARE DEAD and they are HUMAN I dont label people either. Tell me what is bid’ah about this?

            Acquisition of:

            Repentance (taubah)
            Sincerity (ikhlas)
            Slavehood (abdeyat)
            Love of Allah swt (muhabbat)
            Awe (khashoo)
            Fear (khauf)
            Hopefulness (raja’)
            Humility (tawaduh)
            Thankfulness (shukur)
            Patience (saber)
            Reliance (tawakul)
            Dependence (tafweedh)
            Acceptance (raz(dh)a)
            Abstinence (zuhud) , etc. and

            B. Elimation or rectification;
            Love of the worldly (hubb e dunyah)
            Love of fame (hubb e jah)
            Arrogance (kibr)
            Showing off (riya)
            Backbiting (ghibah)
            Calamities of Tongue: Lying (kazb), carrying tales (namemah), humiliating others, talking harshly & rudly, talking unnecessarilry.
            Anger (gazab)
            Envy and Hatred (hasad wa bugz wa keana)
            Being stingy (bukhl)
            Being spend-thrift (israf)
            Greed (hirs), etc.

            Aint no bidah here brother, aint no graves, aint no calling others than Allah, aint no labeling others, aint no hatin on others. Wsalaam

          • Very Sad

            February 16, 2010 at 10:02 AM

            Brother SufiSalafiTJ

            That is a great list, Mashallah! Do I have your permission to copy and use it for my dawah?

          • SufiSalafiTJ

            February 16, 2010 at 10:14 AM

            Of course! Its not my list, its what some may call a “sufi” list. LOL. Your comment is very very true, reverts do read these articles a lot, inshaAllah they will realize that its not islam that has an ugly side, but just us muslims

          • Very Sad

            February 16, 2010 at 10:19 AM


            I’d call it a ‘tazkiya’ list rather than a ‘sufi’ list :-)

      • SufiSalafiTJ

        February 16, 2010 at 10:42 AM

        you are right. i was just adding fuel to the fire ;) but tazkiya tassawuf are used interchangably, just not on certain websites or in front of ppl who would be quick to call u a deviant without gettin to know u

        • Abdul Qadir

          October 22, 2010 at 9:45 PM

          Asalaam wa’alaykum. I realise this response is coming wayy too late, because its been 8 months since your comment! loll

          I was just wondering brother, the list you gave…seems to note almost everything that islam teaches us i.e. they are pretty general teachings. Why is it that you label yourself as a practicer of tassawuf, a “sufi” then? what is it that practitioners of halal tassawuf do that sets them apart from other schools? (I say halal tassawuf, because being raised in a staunch barelwi family, I have personally seen its haram forms, causing me to leave this path).

          Just wondering akhi, i apologize if my comment seems disrepectful, inshallah i’m just trying to gain some knowledge. JazakAllah Khayr.

          • Muhammad Elijah

            October 26, 2010 at 3:45 AM

            Assalaamu ‘Alaikum waRahmatu(A)llaahi waBarakaatuh
            “(I say halal tassawuf, because being raised in a staunch barelwi family, I have personally seen its haram forms, causing me to leave this path).”
            Halaal, Tawheed-based, genuine Ahl-us-Sunnah Tasawwuf is necessary for Ummah of Nabi sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wasallam at this time of Fitan, especially the Fitna of Nisaa.Avoiding genuine Tasawwuf would lead to spiritual self-destruction.There would always be conflict between pseudo-Salafis and pseudo-Tasawwuf, but there can’t be conflict between a genuine Salafi and genuine Ahl-us-Sunnah Tasawwuf .
            Sheikh Abdul Qaadir Jeelaani rahimahu(A)llaah was a genuine Soofi and a genuine Hanbali Ahl-us-Sunnah
            Faqeeh.Somone rightly said:Tasawwuf without Fiqh makes a Zindeeq, while Fiqh without Tasawwuf makes a Faasiq,he doesn’t do what he says.

    • Amad

      February 14, 2010 at 11:42 PM

      Thanks for humoring us Rehan.

      Another evidence why wahhabis is a completely useless and meaningless term when you can combine Bilal Phillips, Baba Ali and even Dawud Wharnsby under its umbrella… reminds me of my old article!

      The Wahhabi Myth: Debunking the Bogeyman


    • AsimG

      February 15, 2010 at 8:56 AM

      Go talk to your ustadh/shaykh/mufti/maulana and ask if he approves of your comment.

      Imam Al-Ghazali said:

      “If you see a scholar declaring others infidels and misguided, shun him and do not busy your heart or your tongue with him! Provocations in knowledge are undoubtedly from people’s nature, and the ignorant one is unable to exercise patience with them. And due to this, differences have multiplied amongst people. If knowledge was forcefully taken from the ignorant, then differences would subside.”

      • Ibrahim

        February 15, 2010 at 7:29 PM

        What is the context here? If the quote is as it’s presented then Imam al-Ghazali’s advice doesn’t hold up in face of the actions of those who came before him (the imams of the salaf) and those who came after him (ibn Taymiyyah, etc.)

        However, it’s another thing to be a retarded Madkhali who does nothing but refute.

        • Muhammad Elijah

          June 19, 2010 at 5:30 AM

          Assalaamu ‘Alaikum brother Ibrahim

          In fact AsimG quoted a good advice. I couldn’t get your point. Can you re-phrase your comment about Imam Ghazali and Madkhali.

    • Muhammad Elijah

      June 19, 2010 at 6:33 AM

      Brother Rehan you shouldn’t have made that post. Every new post determines the direction of the flow of ideas. Let’s focus on 95% common and foir 5% important uncommon among us do a silent honest study of comparative views.

      Just think, how much benefit can be obtained if everyone shares his own list, and we come to know new names-the names of individuals who are heading the global movement of creating awareness about Islam among 7 billion inhabitants of this planet.

  5. mystrugglewithin

    February 14, 2010 at 10:25 PM

    Bro, you surely encouraged many of us to think about our lists .. I am on it :)


  6. muminah

    February 14, 2010 at 10:27 PM

    salaam brother ismail,

    mashAllah this is a really good article, I’ve learnt a lot from it, in fact I’m even going to check out some of the people here that I haven’t heard about…..but just a small thought….I was wondering why you didn’t mention Dr. Zakir Naik in your list, especially seeing that you seem to watch peace tv too?

    Apart from that, reading the article I felt quite envious as you seem to have learnt so much more than me with so much ease!! May Allah bless you =] salaam

    • Abu Muawiyah

      February 15, 2010 at 12:15 AM

      Ukhti Munimah

      Dr Zakir Naik would make my Top Twenty List, There are so many others that have influenced me, i decided to restrict it to my Top Ten but yes, Dr Zakir Naik makes my Top Twenty. In fact, the picture above is of myself and Dr Bilal Philips sitting together attending Dr Zakir Naik’s lecture at the Peace Conference 2007.

    • Abu Muawiyah

      February 15, 2010 at 12:18 AM

      And it was not with ease at all, the past ten years of my life (since I started studying Islam) and especially 2009 have been extremely difficult for me, am still waiting for ease to come after hardship and I have a feeling this year will be the year Bi Iznillah.

      Knowledge can not be gained without going through trials.

      Jazakallah Khair

      • Muhammad Elijah

        June 19, 2010 at 5:32 AM

        More trials you bear for ‘Ilm, more ‘Ilm bestowed on you by Allaah.

  7. Abu Amir Ashraff

    February 14, 2010 at 11:09 PM

    Asalamu alaykum

    I am Extreamly disappointed / Saddened that nobody had mentioned .

    Ali At Timimi ( MAy Allah SWA free him )
    A pioneer of correct menhaj dawa !

    Muhammad Al Shareef ( subhanala the dawa he has done is incomparable )
    And the dawa he has presented is of utter most importance – correct menhaj [ may Allah reward him ]

    Salih A Sawwy ( we thank AllAh SWA that we have the privelidge of benefiting from him )
    [ i mean just becouse he doesnt do public speaches en ENGLISH doesnt mean
    that we should not know of his work !

    Jammal Zarabozo ( subhanala , the amount of books he has translated to English , Unpresidented )

    Waleed Baysuni ( may allah reward him for his eforts )

    Many more , just so disappointed gonna go and cry

    ASalamu alaykum

    • Abd- Allah

      February 14, 2010 at 11:37 PM

      Akhi Abu Amir, the brother made a list of those who influenced him personally! Naturally you wouldn’t expect him to include those who have influenced you or me. You can make your own list, and rest assured that your list will most probably be very different than everyone else’s list the same way that people’s fingerprints differ.

      • Abu Muawiyah

        February 15, 2010 at 12:19 AM

        Jazakallah Khair Akhi Abd-Allah

        Exactly what I was going to say. By the way, most of those names would make my Top Twenty or Thirty, like I said these are just my Top Ten, there are many others who also influenced me, including most of the above.

        • Abu Amir Ashraff

          February 15, 2010 at 11:48 AM

          Asalamu alaykum
          Brothers , please do not hasten to attack me .
          I am referring to the top 500 list, and the further commentaries!

          But i will add a comment of true disappointment.
          You know Alhumdulilahi ‘ we have these forms to share each others coments and learn from them,,, and then you have people that do nothing but use terms like Wahabbis
          Wahab is a name of Alla SWA, why you using it to insult muslims? and apart from that who are wahabbis? this is a myth !)
          and Salafies – insulting the menhaj of the Salif.
          [dont want to mention any names BROTHER IMAD ]

          I enjoy reading and learn from these blogs, but then you have such commentaries that
          really makes me sad. Seems like we need more influential people to influence many more inshalah talah’

          Aslamu alaykum

          • Ahmed B.

            February 15, 2010 at 6:18 PM

            Wasalaam. I’m afraid you might have to get used to it! When you make a forum, blog commentary, etc. open for anyone and everyone, those with knowledge and those without, you sometimes get negative or downright ignorant speech. It’s to be expected, so take from the good and correct or ignore the bad.

    • mohammed

      February 17, 2010 at 1:02 AM

      lol…dude it is his list…why will you cry? salam

  8. Uthman

    February 14, 2010 at 11:29 PM

    You missed Shaykh Jamal Zarabozo!

    • Amad

      February 14, 2010 at 11:46 PM

      bro, read the post. This isn’t our version of 500 most influential muslims (otherwise hijabman would have been must— jk)… these r people who influenced Ismail.

      Feel free to tell us your top 10… i think that was the point of the post, that people can mention their own influences.

    • Abu Muawiyah

      February 15, 2010 at 12:21 AM

      Jamal Zarabozo would probably make my Top 15. His books ‘He came to teach you your religion” and “How to approach and understand the Quran” have been very influential on me. Alhamdulillah

  9. Associates (Senior)

    February 14, 2010 at 11:40 PM

    Interesting article, Imam Ismail. Thanks for posting it. Jazakh-Allah khair.


  10. AsimG

    February 14, 2010 at 11:49 PM

    i don’t want to start up any controversy, but I asked someone who is on this “500 most influential list” and he said it was a definite and obvious omission of Shaykh Yasir Qadhi.

    Alhamdillah, there is no need for lists or any accolades for a person to benefit the people.

    May Allah protect Shaykh Yasir and all the shuyookh from the minor shirk and grant them jannatul firdous

    • Amad

      February 15, 2010 at 12:55 AM

      In my view, and it nothing about Shaykh Yasir, the list was a politically motivated act of kissing-up to certain entities, and trying to “steal” the thunder for a certain sector of Muslim opinion. Not to have Mohamed Shareef, for instance, who founded the largest institute in North America is enough to prove it being sham. The presence of certain very weak people (in terms of influence), and the absence of strong people was quite obvious.

      I wouldn’t use this list as a reference for anything remotely objective

      • Associates (Senior)

        February 16, 2010 at 7:37 PM

        Brother Amad,

        I disagree with you that it was a “sham” or that its agenda was to “steal” the thunder for a certain sector of Muslim opinion. Rather, it was the first edition and thus bound to have certain flaws. Furthermore, that certain sector has to do more to “conversate” with and “edumucate” sincere and influential people like Esposito.


        • Amad

          February 17, 2010 at 12:52 AM

          like hijabman yeah??
          There was a clear agenda… it’s hard to see how you don’t see it.

  11. Abu Muawiyah

    February 15, 2010 at 12:26 AM

    Remember people this is a personal list to get people thinking about who influenced them the most and to expose people to these great people who influenced me.

    After my Top Ten I have also been influenced by: Suhaib Webb, Abdullah Hakim Quick, Jamal Zarabozo, Zakir Naik, Muhammad Ash-Shareef, Yayha Ibrahim, Abdur Raheem Green, Salem Al-Amry, Saalih Al-Munnajid, the list can go on and on but you get my point.

    You may not agree with all my choices but I look up to all these people when it comes to Islam. May Allah reward them all abundantly.

  12. Abd- Allah

    February 15, 2010 at 12:47 AM

    Understand that I use to be a Deobandi Moulana

    BaarakAllah feek akhi Abu Muawiyah. If Allah has saved you from being a Deobandi then you are definitely closer to the truth.

    I personally don’t know too much about Shaykh Bilal Philips, but I am sure his methodology is better than the Deobandis.

    It would be interesting if you write a post about your experience being a Deobandi and then how, and the reasons why, you finally decided to leave that group.

    • Amad

      February 15, 2010 at 1:00 AM

      Let’s not make this an opportunity to bash our deobandi brothers in this case.

      At MM, our goal is not to delve into sectarian battles and we are weary of manhaj police as well.

      Any more comments that take the conversation in that direction will simply be removed. I am sure there are other boards who make a living out of talking about other people and other ideologies… we are not one of them.

      • Abu Muawiyah

        February 15, 2010 at 2:35 AM

        Agreed! Do not wish to stray from the topic into group-bashing. My point was that I use to blindly follow a group, now I have opened my eyes to accept knowledge across schools of thought. I try my best to follow the Quran and Sunnah and do not like attaching any label to myself other than Muslim.

      • Sayf

        February 15, 2010 at 11:38 AM

        Jars need labeling, not muslims.

        • Ahmed B.

          February 15, 2010 at 6:20 PM

          Oh man, I’m going to have to steal that line from you. Don’t chop my hand off.

          • Sayf

            February 15, 2010 at 9:35 PM

            I actually stole it from someone else, but let’s keep that a secret. It’s going to get really popular sooner or later and we can all claim that we said it first and get called crazy together. =D}

      • Abd- Allah

        February 15, 2010 at 8:17 PM

        Akhi Amad, to you this might be considered as “bashing”, but to me, this is simply stating the truth. If by saying that one person or group has a better methodology and is closer to the sunnah than another group is considered “bashing” them, but in reality it is not so. If you notice I only said in my comment that Bilal Philips has a better methodology than the Deobandis. Rest assured that the Deobandis also have a better methodology and are closer to the sunnah than other groups, and by stating that, we are not bashing those other groups, but we are stating the reality of things.

        Another thing akhi Amad is that you need to relax a little more, because when ever something is brought up, you get all defensive and fear that it is going to develop into a “sectarian battle”, and maybe it is because you have had bad experiences in the past where things got ugly, I am sure we all had our share of these incidents where in the end everyone regretted how the conversation developed, but the point is that not every time a person mentions a certain sect that he is declaring war against them or bashing them. None the less, I appreciate that you try to keep this an inclusive forum for all Muslims where everyone is treated with respect, so may Allah reward you for that.

        • Muhammad Elijah

          June 19, 2010 at 5:48 AM

          An intra-Muslims discussion carried out with ‘Ilm and Hilm is beneficial and can help to produce constrcutive global thought process within Islamic civilization.

  13. Joyhamza

    February 15, 2010 at 8:01 AM

    Lol, brother Amad its a bit sad but at the same time funny to see the way you are trying to keep this manhaj debate out. I think its better if you don’t comment. It has just become a fetish to bring all thing back to the same factional stupidity again and again. Salafi brothers (very naive brothers I am sorry to say) still don’t understand that they just can’t bring people to follow 3/4 imams or to follow their brand of salafism. They do not understand usul of Dawah, they don’t understand where to disagree and where they can let go.

    How easily these people say who is salafi and who is not. The Manhaj of the Salaf is a methodology, its not a group. Shaykh Yusuf Al Qaradawi or Shaykh Salman Fahd Al-‘Aodah aren’t salafi in the sense that they do not belong to a group who named themselves salafi. But if they are asked whether they follow the manhaj of the salaf., all of them will claim they do. Most of the scholars will claim they do. And it is NOT in the right of anybody to throw someone out of the mahaj. Shaykh Salih al-Uthaymeen himself reprimanded these extreme salafism. Those who understands arabic should watch this video to understand the real Salafi Manhaj and the beauty of it. Its an inclusive manhaj and not the one claimed by a naive and ill-mannered Hizb who happen to name themselves “Salafi”.

    In my top 10, Shaykh Jamaal Zarabozo , Shaykh Mokhtar Maghraoui, Shaykh Suhaib Webb and Shaykh Muhammad Al Shareef would get a place. My no 1. ofcourse has to be shaykh Salih al-Uthaymeen hands down. Salman al-Aodah and Yusuf al-Qaradwi might take the next two slots. These two shaykhs epitomize more or less how we can bridge modernity with texts without having to compromise or overdo. I would retain Yasir Qadhi and Bilal Philips in my list from Bro. Ismai’ls list.

    May Allah retain the ‘izza of our ‘ulama wherever they are.

    • Muhammad Elijah

      June 19, 2010 at 5:57 AM

      The last sentence reminded me of a Hadith that Rasool sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wasallam said that I fear that my Ummah would not treat ‘Ulama as they should have been treated while He sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wasallam also said that ‘Ulama are those who continue the legacy of Anbiyaa and Anbiyaa don’t leave behind them Maal/money but ‘Ilm/knowledge. There is a Hadith recorded by Tabarani that Whoever doesn’t recognize/respect(Man lam ya’rif ‘aalimanaa, I am not sure about the translation of ya’rif whether it is to recognize or to respect ) our ‘Aalim, who doesn’t show compassion to our young one, doesn’t respect our elder one, he is not from my Ummah.

  14. Hassan

    February 15, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    Top 10 people who influenced me:

    1. Sheikh Waleed Basyouni
    2. Sheikh Waleed Basyouni
    3. Sheikh Waleed Basyouni
    4. Sheikh Waleed Basyouni
    5. Sheikh Waleed Basyouni
    6. Sheikh Waleed Basyouni
    7. Sheikh Waleed Basyouni
    8. Sheikh Waleed Basyouni
    9. Sheikh Waleed Basyouni
    10. Sheikh Waleed Basyouni

    Although for a serious or even remotely serious student of knowledge, it is better to diversify teachers, but being 100% layman without any ambitions of becoming islamic scholar, he is enough for me.

    • Amad

      February 15, 2010 at 9:41 AM

      you forgot Aqib bhai.

      • Hassan

        February 15, 2010 at 9:41 PM

        Well in that case I count you as well..

        • Amad

          February 16, 2010 at 12:10 AM

          no wonder you’re so messed up ;)

    • Sayf

      February 15, 2010 at 11:43 AM

      Sheikh Kamal is that you? :P

  15. AsimG

    February 15, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    Haha, just remembered there is someone , who I respect, who criticized the mindset of Muslims in the West and how we are obsessed with all these best of the best and making lists i.e. top 10 imams, top 10 classes, top 10 etc etc etc.
    I guess it’s somewhat true :p

    But I think making a non-political counter influential list of Most Influential Muslims in the West would be awesome.

  16. Wahhabi Bobby

    February 15, 2010 at 8:53 AM

    My top 4:

    1. Shaykh Nazim Haqqani

    2. Hesham Kabbani

    3. Abdul Hakim Murad

    4. Nuh Ha Meem Keller

    I hope I don’t get busted by the manhaj SWAT team.

    • Amad

      February 15, 2010 at 9:40 AM

      If only you had Allamah Shaykh al-Akbar Moulana Tahir Qadiri, you might actually have a complete list for an IP address SP agent showing up on your doorsteps ;)

  17. suhail

    February 15, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    Actually i do not like to think of deobandi’s as a monolithic group. Deoband is basically not just limited to one place or thought but this term is just that a term to define hanafi’s from the subcontinent who are basically opposed to the Barelwi line of understanding.

    But to consider them as one monolithic group is not a right thing. They have produced countless Ulema and some of them have been quite instrumental in the history of muslims in the subcontinent.

    There are many Ulema who call themself deobandi but have the same aqaid as the salafi’s but they are hanafi’s in fiqh and so on. The only common this among the whole spectrum of the deobandi’s is that they are hanafi’s in fiqh. I do not see anything wrong with that.

    Actually Deobandi Ulema even if you disagree them in issues have fought against the practice of Shirk in subcontinent more than anybody. Salafi’s are quite a tiny minority in the subcontinent and anyways when it comes to fiqh salafi’s have the most strangest opinions in some of the things. Even the Najdi Ulema are mostly Hanablis in fiqh that includes Bin Baz and Ibn Uthaymeen.

    • Faqir

      February 15, 2010 at 10:41 AM

      Exactly brother. You hit that right on the dot. I would like to add some few comments. Sh. Yasir should have been on that top 500 list (even though i dont know how credible it may be) but i can confidently say he is not losing any sleep over it :) A last thing a scholar wants is fame. Secondly, even though he is a target for the US, I must say Anwar al-Awlaki had a huge influence in 1000s of peoples lives. I personally know many many examples. His words for example in “The Hereafter” and “Lives of the Prophets” snapped people out of their darkness, like a cold smack of reality and awakening. Mashallah, brothers and sisters when they go deeper into deen, then they realize all these groups and divisions, but lets not forget the people still trying to come to/back to the deen. In my city, and in im sure many other cities in the US, these “deobandi” scholars as you like to call them (i just call them muslim) are helping countless stragglers (im one firstly) back to the deen. To even get a brother or a sister who doesnt pray to pray once, big thing, 5? huge. You gotta give cred where its due…

  18. Abu Sauleh

    February 15, 2010 at 11:07 AM

    I am surprised no one has mentioned Sh. Anwar al-Awlaki. Despite his recent stances, no one can deny the immense benefit Muslim youth in the west have gained from his more mainstream lectures and talks.

    • Abu Amir Ashraff

      February 15, 2010 at 2:20 PM

      Aslamu Alaykum

      Suh’ , i agree fully!

      just have fear admitting it on line.
      never know if the FBI ,CIA , and whoever else will come knocking on your door!

    • Faqir

      February 15, 2010 at 3:43 PM

      Sheikh Anwar is my #1, i dont care what people say about him. I dont know if anyone has heard of Mufti Ismael Menk? Hes amaaaazing.
      (Dont worry guys, his CV has Univ. of Medinah in it :p)

      • Abu Muawiyah

        February 15, 2010 at 11:59 PM

        I spent one Ramadan with Mufti Menk, awesome guy! He’d make my Top Twenty List!

        • Amad

          February 16, 2010 at 12:08 AM

          You’re running out of space in your top 20 as well :)

          • Abu Muawiyah

            February 16, 2010 at 12:33 AM

            Oops, looks like I’ll have to extend it to my Top 25. SUbhanallah, there are so many inspirational Muslims in the world today! :)

        • Faqir

          February 16, 2010 at 12:31 AM

          Im soooo jealous :) Mashallah. I would love to go spend one ramadan with him

      • Amad

        February 16, 2010 at 12:00 AM

        There is no doubt that Awlaki is an influential figure in the Muslim world. Years ago, he was a force of positive influence by being part of the moderate mainstream. That is why most of us were delighted when he was released from prison in Yemen. But unfortunately since his detention (and possible torture), he has constantly become a source of negative influence (notwithstanding the countless conspiracy theories that Awlaki never ran “his” blog, or didn’t say this or that).

        Based on what is apparent, and I don’t have a reason to not believe the apparent (no reports of denials, etc.), he has become a figure who has contributed to the rising Islamophobia because his statements provide fodder for the Islamophobes. I am sure he has good intentions, but intentions are not sufficient to overcome reckless statements, esp. considering how many youths were attached to him from his “mainstream” days. Justification of violence against innocent civilians is antithetical to Islam, the Islam of mercy and compassion.

        The latest statements are another nail in his mainstream coffin:

        “Brother mujahed Umar Farouk – may God relieve him – is one of my students, yes,” al-Awlaki said in the interview, which Al-Jazeera reported on its Web site Tuesday. “We had kept in contact, but I didn’t issue a fatwa to Umar Farouk for this operation,” al-Awlaki was quoted as saying.

        Al-Awlaki said he supported the Christmas attack, but it would have been better if the target was a U.S. military target or plane.

        “I support what Umar Farouk did after seeing my brothers in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan being killed,” he was quoted as saying. “If it was a military plane or a U.S. military target it would have been better…(but) the American people have participated in all the crimes of their government.”

        “Some 300 Americans are nothing compared to thousands Muslims they have killed,” he said.

        “300 Americans are nothing”?? What if Awlaki’s child was on that plane? What if my child was on the plane. Would he find it convenient to justify it because someone else killed his brothers? What kind of twisted logic is this?

        I would like to state in advance that I don’t want to get into a conspiratorial spat. If you don’t believe anything he has said post-National-Geographic interview days, then that’s fine. We are on the same page in agreeing that IF indeed he has become what is APPARENT, then we distance ourselves from him. In other words, we all like the “old” Awlaki and not the “new” Awlaki (if the “new” is true– which I believe is). And if you like the “new” terrorism-supporting Awlaki (if true), then you are on the wrong forum.

        If we can find tangible evidence that Awlaki is still the “old” Awlaki, I am sure we will be willing to entertain it.

        • Abû Mûsâ Al-Ḥabashî

          February 16, 2010 at 6:32 AM

          Why are you criticizing the manhaj of Anwar Al-Awlaki when you explicitly prohibited (and apparently even moderated) other brothers from talking about manhaj? I’m no fan of Anwar but this seems like such blatant double standards.

          • Amad

            February 16, 2010 at 6:48 AM

            This has nothing to do with discussing Awlaki’s manhaj.

            Since his name was mentioned and he is “in the news” these days for supporting violence, it was important to make a clear comment about him and clarify our stance.

          • Ahmed B.

            February 16, 2010 at 12:53 PM

            Thanks Amad. I loved listening to Anwar al-Awlaki in the past but I’ve been disturbed by his statements as of late. It’s good that you clarified the stance of MuslimMatters with the times being what they are. Just last jum’ah, a sheikh recommended we remove Anwar al-Awlaki’s lectures from our audio library in case some news reporter, CIA, etc. character came by. :(

          • Old Skool

            February 16, 2010 at 6:37 PM

            @ Abu Musa – But that is to be expected is it not?!

  19. Abdullah

    February 15, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    -edited. Okay, that’s enough. We are not going down that route.

  20. Ahmed B.

    February 15, 2010 at 6:12 PM

    Abu Muawiyah/Ismail Kamdar, I officially proclaim you the “King of Lists.” Would love to see some of your blog’s informative pie charts brought here! :)

    • Abu Muawiyah

      February 16, 2010 at 12:04 AM

      Jazakallah Khair Akhi, I’m honored! Will bring some over in the future insha Allah.

      Some of my older yet popular lists that MM readers might not have read yet:

      1. Top Ten Friday Torture Talks:

      2. Top Ten Muslim Phobias:

      3. Top Ten Extremist Characters:

      4. Top Ten Things I love about Paradise:

      • Abd- Allah

        February 16, 2010 at 12:34 AM

        Akhi Abu Muawiyah, maybe you should make a Top Ten list of the Top Ten lists! lol

      • BintKhalil

        February 16, 2010 at 9:31 AM

        Assalamu alaikum

        Brother Abu Mu’awaiyah,
        The top 10 Muslim phobias and top 10 extreme characters lists made me sad and laugh at the same time. How isolated are these people!

        Btw, I have never heard of threatening your kids with the Mullah. That’s just hilarious (and sad).

        As for the conversations with those extreme characters, how messed up are we as an Ummah? I have to say my favourite one is the extremely confused individual.

        Btw, if I may make a request could you possibly blog about the womanphobia that many seem to affected by? It could be very enlightening and serve to bridge some gaps. I know it would also be very contraversial and you would get a lot of haters, but it looks like you have dealt with plenty already.

        • Abu Muawiyah

          February 17, 2010 at 2:13 AM

          Jazakallah Khair, I will add it to my To-Do List which is at the moment very big, but insha Allah when I get the time I will write an article about the womenaphobia amongst certain cultural Muslim Men, insha Allah

  21. Adnan

    February 15, 2010 at 8:14 PM

    I influenced myself.

    • Associates (Senior)

      February 16, 2010 at 7:43 PM

      Haha. Honest answer.

      I think lots of people influenced me religiously, but it’s hard to construct a definitive list 1-10. I’d need a lot of time to do that.


  22. Uthman

    February 16, 2010 at 12:15 AM

    I was in Shaykh Jamal’s Ullom ul hadeeth class and he narrated to us a saying. Ibn Abbas said: ” Do not pit the scholars against each other, for I swear by Allah(SWT) that they are more jealous then the male goats.”

    • Abd- Allah

      February 16, 2010 at 12:50 AM

      Ibn Abbas said:

      Brother Uthman, did he mention a reference for it? Or whether it is authentic or not?

      • Uthman

        February 16, 2010 at 1:11 AM

        Its a Uloom ul hadeeth class akhi and its Shaykh Jamal mashAllah . :) He did not mention the chain but said its authentic. Wallah u a3lam

  23. Abd- Allah

    February 16, 2010 at 7:14 AM

    Ya akhi, if you just swap sufi for wahhabi in your comment, it could have been the same tirade from the “other” camp and what would have that accomplished?

    How about a cooling period of 1 week for any comments that contain labels?

    Akhi Amad, the difference is that sufis call themselves sufis, so no one is labeling them. When I say sufi, I am just using the label that they have given themselves, where as no one calls himself a “wahhabi” and yet most sufis use that term to label others. The other difference is that I never call anyone a sufi if they have not labeled themselves as such, but sufis on the other hand label everyone else as a “wahhabi”, so to them things are black and white, you are either a sufi or a “wahhabi”. To them there are no other sects. You are either with them, or you are a “wahhabi”. You see the difference akhi?

    And don’t think that I like using labels or that I use them frequently in my daily life when interacting with other Muslims in my community. Most Muslims are just Muslims and do not belong to a certain sect, and so if they don’t label themselves then I don’t label them either. However, I do believe that in certain cases, we are forced to use labels in order to differentiate ourselves from deviant groups or beliefs and to differentiate them from the main group of the Muslims. This is similar to what you did here to Anwar Awlaki:

    This has nothing to do with discussing Awlaki’s manhaj.
    Since his name was mentioned and he is “in the news” these days for supporting violence, it was important to make a clear comment about him and clarify our stance.

    And I agree with you that what you did was “important to make a clear comment about him and clarify our stance.” Similarly, labels are also needed sometimes to make a clear comment and clarify your stance regarding other deviant beliefs, and also to clarify where those deviant beliefs stand from Islam and its true teachings.

    Sorry again for the long comment, I know you like for people to keep them short.

  24. Very Sad

    February 16, 2010 at 9:08 AM


    After reading some comments, I say Alhamdolillah I got out of my salafi phase. After observing “pseudo-scholars” for many years, the conclusion I have come to is that the best “real scholars” to follow are those who take from different sources, and who respect scholars from different “minhaj”es. This list is a wonderful example of this, I feel after reading this that Br. Ismail is someone open minded enough to go to when seeking advice. Another scholar like this is Imam Suhaib Webb, who mentions so many of his teachers from across the spectrum.

    What kills me is when certain pseudo scholars claim that only ONE group is correct, no matter who that group is, be it salafis, sufis, tableeghis, deobandis, or anyone else. Close mindedness leads to arrogance and egotism, and subhanallah I have seen this arrogance in people who have amassed more knowledge than I will ever have. We once had a MUFTI (a real one) come to our local musallah, and make disgusting statements about a certain city where they prayed a different way from his minhaaj.

    Finally, everyone should note that there are many reverts who follow these blogs, and that some of these reverts start seeing the ugly side of muslims here, and associate it with the ‘ugly’ side of Islam. How would you like to be responsible for making comments which cause a revert to leave Islam?

  25. Very Sad

    February 16, 2010 at 9:09 AM


    Br Ismail

    Do you have an email address we can contact you at? I am very impressed by the articles you have written on this blog, and would love to communicate with you!

    • Abu Muawiyah

      February 17, 2010 at 2:18 AM

      Jazakallah Khair for the kind comments. My e-mail address is available on my blog at my profile. :)

  26. h. ahmed

    February 16, 2010 at 6:24 PM

    I assume most of the readers/followers of this blog are born Muslim – and that being the case , i am surprised nobody mentioned the influence their own parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, Imams of their local masjids, Quran teachers, Islamic school teachers, etc. have had on their understanding of Islam. I know if i were to make a top 10 list more than half would come from the aforementioned group.

    • Abu Muawiyah

      February 17, 2010 at 2:14 AM

      It would depend on the individual, when it comes to Islam, these people all had a much larger influence on me than anyone on my family, although I hope that one day I’ll be number one on my kids’ list. :)

  27. Scott

    February 16, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    My List (of 6) If I May (in no particular order):

    Shaykh Hamza Yusuf – I like the way he talks, the way he expresses points, and the way he makes Islam appear. When Shaykh Hamza talks about Islam, you’re seeing something sensible and beautiful.
    Imam Zaid Shakir – The ‘street cred’ version of Shaykh Hamza. If I was the American Khalifah Imam Zaid would be the general of my armies.
    Abdullah bin Hamid Ali – A newer addition to my list, cause he’s Maliki like me and offers maliki fiqh classes (took one the other day) and articles.
    Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah – I really liked his famous women in islam set and have read some of his articles
    Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller – Read several of his articles and gained a lot from them
    Gary Miller (Abdul-Ahad Omar) – It was one of his articles on Islam that got my attention initially, causing me to look into it and then finally convert.

    Repping the converts 5 to 1, as you can see.

    • Abu Amir Ashraff

      February 16, 2010 at 7:13 PM

      -Removed. I didn’t think you got the message before on this issue -Editor

      • Kashif

        February 16, 2010 at 7:44 PM

        -Yes, the comment was removed. We are not on 24×7 :) -Editor

    • Dawud Israel

      February 17, 2010 at 10:02 AM

      Imam Zaid was in the US Air Force I believe…so I can see why you would say that about your armies lol.

  28. Nahyan

    February 17, 2010 at 12:45 AM

    excellent post.

    Not only to respect and increase love for brothers doing dawah, but for myself to contemplate who’ve influenced me…and where we one day hope to be on the list of 500 inshaAllah


    ps. good moderating Amad, gave people a new target to hate on :P

    • SufiSalafiTJ

      February 17, 2010 at 1:00 AM

      I say we scratch that, forget that 500 list, i wanna be on the list of the first 500 into Jannah inshaAllah

      • Scott

        February 17, 2010 at 1:01 AM

        Or heck, the last 500.

        I’ll take when I can get!

        • Nahyan

          February 18, 2010 at 8:05 PM

          @SufiSalafi – touche :)

          @Scott – lol

  29. Dawud Israel

    February 17, 2010 at 9:58 AM

    This is interesting. The manhaj issue is dying so trying to flame that up is unlikely.

    Over time I’ve gone from the preachers…to the scholars. Hmmm… what next?

    My big influences in my early days were Ahmed Deedat, Zakir Naik (“chupter 42, varas 23”) and Yusuf Estes. I was all about the dawah-ship. So I was really into these preacher types wanting to convert everyone! Malcolm X is still a big influence- thats one person’s influence who towers over our history.

    One gem of a teacher AlMaghrib has is Reda Bedeir, I heard a talk from him once, took notes, like 2-3 years ago and just reviewed them a week ago and realized, I had recalled it totally! His words stick with you!

    But as you grow in the deen, you go away from that wanting more than just the motivational or feel-good…you want something more because you got questions! So then uncle Dawud started sending IslamToday (Salman al-Oudah’s) website like 10 questions a week…I knew the best times to send a question, had them pre-typed, and knew they were the more balanced option giving answers for everyday, and also replying in a day or two. For example, I asked them about the hadiths on fasting and how there are different intervals, so I asked them to help me come up with a “Fasting Regimen” like a fitness regimen and ya know, they did it and helped me out! THAT is what you call real Islamic work! Salman al-Oudah is respected, by all, because he genuinely cares for Muslims and his website reflects that. He’s not about putting down or being a refutnik, but about helping.

    Maybe its when you grow more into the deen, it is less idealistic than your early influences where it was all black or all white– now there are greys and you have to be responsible for your own eman. But overall, the preachers and daiees have a bigger influence on people. The more you learn about the deen, the fewer your reasons become to be prejudiced with Islam and you take from alll.

    Shaykh Hamza was and still is big…he’s someone you can explore, talks about everything, from his early days to now. There are so many talks of his everywhere. There is a whole history with him. Abdul Hakim Jackson (Sherman Jackson) is an intellectual type everyone loves and looks up to like grandpa.

    And Abdul Hakim Murad is probably the one scholar who I would say 200 years from now, people will look back to as a giant. I mean like a real force to reckon with. His Essays and the “Contentions,” represents the first coherent, real grasp with Islam in the Modern world. He goes through everything and really asserts Islam over everything. They are like essays in one-sentence and they totally repel any feelings of inferiority that Muslims have with modernity, or feminism or whatever. And then he pushes it further and makes the readers think about how they approach Islam, or see it, sharply revealing the incongruities and deficiency in Muslim understanding of Islam today, not really distinguishing or putting one sort of Islam over another but pushing for the Sunnah itself and the Sunnah alone.

    Gai Eaton is a big influence…despite some of the Perennialist leanings, this man’s book has brought many swiftly into Islam. It’s so convincing and so under-read…like if Shakespeare were Muslim. His books are going to be a classic without a doubt.

    • Ahmed B.

      February 17, 2010 at 12:39 PM

      Zakir Naik (“chupter 42, varas 23″)

      Oh man, that made me laugh! May Allah strengthen and continue to guide him!

    • Nahyan

      February 18, 2010 at 8:08 PM


      I agree with you on Dr.Reda – he is somthing special mashaAllah

      Sh. Salman Oudah – very true, it’s good you mentioned him. Reminded me to check out his site, I haven’t read much of his work yet.


  30. Dawud Israel

    February 17, 2010 at 2:43 PM

    I read some of the comments and just had this nugget of wisdom to say.

    Sh YQ mentioned in the liwaa ilminar something that Shaykh Bin Baz said: “Every Muslim in this ummah has a role to play.” And that each Muslim has something only they can do and no one else…and that is what Allah swt wants you to do.

    That is like the lesson of we should take away here, no?

  31. Abd- Allah

    February 17, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    So, brother Amad, the ‘mawlid‘ is supposedly coming up, its that time of the year again! Are you guys going to open up a separate thread specifically for that topic where brothers can launch wars and insult.. I mean where brothers can discuss with each other the topic of the ‘mawlid’ in a mannerly fashion, or should we just start that discussion here under this post since the stage has already been set up for such a topic with the preliminary discussions on manhaj?

    • Amad

      February 18, 2010 at 12:47 AM

      This is not the post for it, and we don’t intend to open up a thread either, as far as I know. Though I do not speak for all of MM authors.

      • Abd- Allah

        February 18, 2010 at 2:34 PM

        I was just joking akhi! I do have a sense of humor you know.

  32. abu maryam

    February 18, 2010 at 1:16 AM

    May Allah protect all these Brothers in Islam, who had a great impact on my practicing Islam
    7. Yasir Qadhi
    6. Yasir Birjas
    5. Dr. Zakir naik
    4. Hamza yousuf (lecture: the elements of success)
    3. Jamal Zarabozo
    2. Muhammad al shareef
    1. Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Phiips
    0. Muhammad Naseel Shahrukh (..i wish 10-15 yrs later millions will say the same as me)

  33. Mombeam

    February 22, 2010 at 7:55 PM

    Shaykh Abdullah Adhami. What I learned from him about classical Arabic and the importance of women in Islam is a faith-saver for me and many others. Because of the things I learned from him, I know that Islam is not an anti-woman religion and that I don’t need any “progressive movement” or other religion in order to know that Allah acknowledges my worth as a human being.

    • Muhammad Elijah

      June 19, 2010 at 6:23 AM

      Islam is pro-wife,pro-sister,pro-mother, and pro-daughter religion. Muslimahs like you can shift the discourse towards a family-oriented perspective. I don’t see myself as a man but as a brother,husband, father and son. This is how Islam spiritualizes our existence by elevating us from the zoological level to the levels of angels.

      Al Jannatu Tahta Aqdaamil Ummahaat.
      Paradise lies beneath the feet of mothers.

      This is what Our Nabi sall Allaahu ‘alaihi wasallam said about mothers. And similar quotations can be found about sisters,daughters and wives.

  34. Umm Bilqis

    March 1, 2010 at 12:23 AM

    Ali Tamimi, may Allah release him from the jail in the prisons of those that no longer deal with Muslims through the rule of law and with justice:
    May Allah return him to his family in safety! Ameen
    Video lecture called Defenders of The faith.

  35. Mohammed Eliyas

    March 23, 2010 at 1:41 AM

    Assalamu ‘Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
    Instead of discussing this why don’t we share knowledge on the way of as-salaf-as-saaliheen so that each one can be benefitted and can seek Allah’s pleasure in implementing those Insha Allah!

  36. Muhammad Elijah

    March 31, 2010 at 12:43 AM

    Comment:Understand that I use to be a Deobandi Moulana before deciding to seek the truth

    In my humble opinion,Deobandi Ulama are the greatest fortress of Deen in Pakistan,India and Bangladesh. They are fighting Ghulam Ahmadism, Munkireen of Hadith and Ahlul Bid’ah.
    I think a conciliation of Salafi Ulama and Deobandi Ulama is possible which is slow due to lack of communication. Otherwise they share more than anyone else on the planet.

  37. Muhammad Elijah

    June 19, 2010 at 6:52 AM

    To conclude after reading the article and comments, It was a very good initiative by brother Ismail. Rabbanaa Taqabbal minhu.

    Only by knowing each other more and discussing the differences with ‘Ilm and Hilm would break the ice bring us closer to each other. We should neither discourage ‘Ilm and Hilm based disagreement nor should we rhetorical in our criticism of others. We should rather be more nuanced in our criticism.

    Brother Ismail should be persistent in any effort of Deen he does. The persistence like that of Nooh ‘alaihis salaam who kept preaching for 950 years.

    And we should also remain in search of those anonymous ‘Ulama who are found in Masaajid but not on media. We shouldn’t neglect Masaajid because Masaajid are nearer to Sunnah.

    An internet Dawah integrated with the local Dawah is the best thing. I try to do daily Dawah at Masjid and surrounding locality where I pray Fajr Salaah. I make new Salaams, memorise new names and new addresses and then go to their homes. Then I do the same at my workplace. And third one at home. I recite an Aayah/Hadith or two daily in the three places. And if I happen to check email, then I do internet Dawah. But it would be better if you meet personally those whom you give Da’wah.

  38. Umar

    October 26, 2010 at 6:37 AM

    1. Y. Qadhi (he overtook zakir naik recently.)
    2. Zakir naik… Probably the most well known in the world.
    3. Bilal philips… For his excellent books
    4. Yusuf estes… For his simple explanations.
    5. Wajdi abu mussab akari… Enthusiastic, knowledgable young sheikh who is serious about the sunnah.

    but I found Reading books are a lot more informative than speakers. Admittedly, the speakers put the concepts into real life situations, help the understanding process, and require a lot less effort…. BUT I feel books have been undervalued in recent times.

  39. abu mohammad abdorrahman

    April 27, 2012 at 7:27 AM

    Assalamo alaykom wa rahmatollahi wa barakatoho my beloved brothers in this great life and religion. May Allah swt send up his blessings and salutations upon our beloved prophet Muhammad saws, his family, his sahaba and all the ones that follow them untill the day of ressurection. I would like to start my comment with the last part of my first sentence wich is used by all scholars from any madhap worlwide (except from the Shia).

    “… and all the ones that follow them untill the day of ressurection” 

    Ofcourse it is the aqeedah of one wich places him into the religion and on the straight path, but it is definatly the manhaj wich gives him de deeper understainding, the most benefit and verily it is the manhaj that places him into the position of those who are the true followers.

    One may agree and one may disagree but it is THE ONE that has shown us the straight path and the correct religion true his beloved prophet saws.

    We do not say that following a madhab is a wrong thing, instead we say that following a madhad is very advised to anyone who does not have knowledge. Also anyone of us man or woman is obligated to seek the knowledge and search upon the proofs of what he or she is following. We do not follow blind, nor do we copy others without knowledge. 

    We dont accept anyithing from any scholar, if there is no giving proof wich can be shown in the correct hadeeth or quran.

    We dont make takfir to anyone, we dont support terrorism, we do what Allah swt ordered us in the first place. Iqra, read, study and learn.

    It is very advised to anyone of us to search for the knowledge, to loose all his kibr he has in his hearth and to surrender with his hearth, his brain and all he is to Allah swt

    may allah swt unite the muslim nation and grant us paradise.

  40. dan

    May 25, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    I liked this ! I listened to some lectures from some of these people very interesting

  41. Muslimguy786

    October 6, 2015 at 11:40 AM

    1)Abu Bakr As-Siddiq
    (2)Umar bin Al-Khattab
    (3)Uthman ibn Affan
    (4)Ali ibn Abi Talib
    (5)Talha ibn Ubayd-Allah
    (6)Zubayr ibn al-Awwam
    (7)Abd al-Rahman ibn Awf
    (8)Sad ibn Abi Waqqas
    (9)Abu-Ubaida ibn al-Jarrah
    (10)Said ibn Zayd

    Those should be your top ten…

  42. Ahmad

    April 12, 2016 at 8:50 AM

    AlHamdlillah I left IOU 2 years ago because I felt that people there are ????? Anyone can come to teach no matter what Manhaj they are upon! Especially people like Mirza Yawar Beg. Now I came to know that there were people like you teaching Islaam who were influenced by Yusuf al Qardawi-an Ikhwaani who says that whole Ummah is Ashari and others in your list like Salman al Oudah – the khariji who speaks against the Rulers and supports suicide bombings and funny comedians like Yusuf Estes and Baba Ali who make fun of Dawah. Muslim reports from Ibn Seereen :
    إن هذا العلم دين فانظروا عمن تأخذون دينكم
    Indeed this Knowledge is Deen so let one of you see , whom he is taking knowledge from.
    This is not the Salafi Manhaj to praise Ahlul Bid’ah and boast of having his studentship.

    • Yousef Shanawany

      May 31, 2016 at 2:09 PM

      Did you switch to something else? I also worry about IOU.

  43. Nazeer Valli

    August 19, 2016 at 7:44 PM

    Asalaamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu brother Ismail. I am also from Durban and I have to say that I grew up in a town rife with sufism etc. My journey is extremely similar to yours, I would also put Dr Bilal Philips number 1 on my list but I put Shaikh Yasir Qadhi 2nd, Dr Bilal Philips has set the wheels in motion for the correct Aqeeda but Yasir Qadhi has helped put a spiritual notion of the deen into me by Allah’s permission. I truly look up to him and hope that Allah forgives him and rewards him a great reward.

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