25 Influential Muslims


May 04, 2018

We asked American Muslims to name the most influential people in their fields. Here’s what they said:

Who speaks for American Muslims? The short answer is, no one. No individual or group can claim to speak for this country’s nearly 3.5 million Muslims, a diverse and dynamic population that’s expected to double by 2050. Instead we see spheres of influence that sometimes intersect and overlap.

CNN spent a year interviewing more than 100 American Muslims, asking who they think are the most influential Muslims in their fields. We sought nominees for whom religion is part of their public identity, but other than that, we let American Muslims do most of the talking.

A few nominees declined to participate for personal reasons, but the vast majority were willing. The result is this crowd-sourced list of 25 influential American Muslims. They are comedians and congressmen, activists and Olympians, fashionistas and political fighters, converts and from-the-cradle believers. They are the children of immigrants and African-Americans whose roots in this country reach back centuries.

Together, they compose one of the world’s most eclectic and innovative Muslim communities – and they all have remarkable stories to tell. Comedians and congressmen, activists and Olympians, fashionistas and political fighters. He is among 25 influential American Muslims. See who’s on the list.

CNN featured Zaytuna College’s Imam Zaid Shakir in this groundbreaking video project. In a compelling 90-second video, as a Zaytuna scholar told a story filled with meaning. Imam Zaid shares how the anguished cries of a 10-year-old girl began his journey that led him to become a Muslim. Click to watch stories from him and others on CNN.