500 Most Influential Muslims 2023: Mahmood Madani, Aisha Bewley top list

The Persons of the Year— man and woman are recognized for their significant contributions in the past year or over their lifetime.

The list of 500 influential Muslim personalities in the world has been released for the year 2023. In this, Maulana Mahmood A Madani, the President of Indian Islamic and Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH) and Aisha Bewley, a renowned Arabic-English translator have been named Persons of the Year— 2023.

The Persons of the Year— man and woman are recognized for their significant contributions in the past year or over their lifetime.

This list has been released by Muslims 500 and the Islamic NGO ‘The Royal All Al Bait Institute for Islamic Thought’ (RABIIT), whose headquarter is in Amman, the capital of Jordan

Man of the Year— Maulana Mahmood A Madani

Maulana Mahmood Madani, President of Indian Islamic and Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, is placed 15th on the list and has been given the title of Man of the Year.

Maulana Mahmood Madani is an Islamic scholar, public speaker, social worker and preacher of Islamic humanitarian values, tolerance, and peace.

Madani was born on March 3, 1964 in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh.

His grandfather Hussain Ahmed was a freedom fighter and head of Darul Uloom. Madani studied at Darul Uloom Deoband Islamic Madrasa. After graduation in 1992, he moved ahead in the business field but after some time he started walking on the path of social service and politics. 

Maulana Mahmood Madani, associated with social work for a long time, received considerable recognition for his relief work after the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat. After the ethnoreligious violence in 2002, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind launched a campaign for relief work under the leadership of Maulana Mahmood Madani. 

This relief work had further increased his stature. He was elected General Secretary of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind from 2001 to 2008. 

Maulana Mahmood Madani started his political career with the Samajwadi Party after he was recognised for his social and political work. Madani was a Rajya Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh from 2006 to 2012.

Maulana Madani has also raised his voice against issues like the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). 

He also played an important role in starting the nationwide protest against the CAA. During that time protests were held at more than 1000 places across the country. In a TV program, he had said, ‘We are not restless, we are choosy Indians. We chose India’. 

Through the platform of JUH, he has fought the twin battles of condemning terrorism in all its forms as well as calling out those who would use the issue to scapegoat the Muslim community.

He has defended hundreds of cases of Muslims who have been falsely implicated in terror cases. He has also taken on other cases with regard to securing the rights of Indian Muslims (including the right to citizenship, and the right to practice religious duties).

Coupled with this defence of Muslim rights, Maulana Madani has always been a vocal supporter of unity in diversity and has consistently emphasised harmonious relations between different faiths in India.

Woman of the Year— Aisha Bewley

Aisha Bewley has been named the Woman of the Year in the 2023 edition of the Muslim 500, after being recognised for her immense work and contributions to Islamic scholarship. 

Aisha Abdurrahman Bewley, born in the United States in 1948, is one of the world’s most prolific and accomplished translators of classical Islamic works from Arabic to English.

After converting to Islam in 1968, she has spent the past five decades faithfully learning the Islamic tradition and making its key texts available to the global English-speaking Muslim community, sometimes in collaboration with her husband, Abdalhaqq Bewley, with whom she translated The Noble Quran.

She received a master’s degree in Near Eastern languages ​​from the University of California, Berkley and continued her studies at the American University in Cairo.

Since graduating, Bewley has worked tirelessly to make Islamic literature accessible to the English-speaking Muslim community.

Her greatest achievement was translating the Holy Quran into English with the support of her husband, Abdalhaqq Bewley. Both worked on the project for several years, after which the entire translation was published under the title “The Noble Quran”.

A majority of her works have been published for free online. Students, teachers, and many alumni have turned to the internet for its resources at no cost.

The subjects she has covered in translation and in her own writings range from the Noble Quran, translation of the Quran (tafsir), Hadith, works on Islamic law, Sufism, and Islamic history among others.

Among the well-known translations are al-Muwatta’ by Imam Malik (1982), al-Syifa’ by Qadhi’ Iyadh (1991), and Ibn Sa’d’s Tabaqat series (1995). She has also written her own works (non-translated) such as The Subatomic World in the Quran (1995), Islam: The Empowering of Women (1999), Muslim Women: a Biographical Dictionary (2004), and Democratic Tyranny and the Islamic Paradigm (2018).

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