Meet the 9 Muslim Change-Makers Slaying the 2019 TIME 100: Most Influential People List

The 2019 TIME 100 list celebrating the most influential people is officially outThis annual summary listing 100 influential people around the world identifies individuals of influence, no matter if their influence has been negative or positive.

This year, the list is very diverse and rich in terms of people from a wide variety of different cultures and backgrounds. From painters and makeup artists, to scientists and lawyers, whether Black or Brown, gay or straight, male or female, racist or open-minded, all were represented! After all, representation is key to empowering children, and even adults, in order to have a strong and inclusive society.

Amongst this list, there are names we recognized, and names that may require a bit more research. Obviously, much research wasn’t required in reference to honorees like Ariana Grande (#proudArianator for life), or Donald Trump (it’s painful to even type his name). I have to admit that I was amazed by some of the powerful women featured on the list, and also very disappointed at seeing some faces (totally not referring to Kavanaugh or Mueller).

The best part though was seeing all the Muslim representation! The Muslim Girl community is so very pleased to see the contributions of Muslim men and women recognized in the TIME 100 list. The following eight people have excelled in their respective fields and have fearlessly and proudly represented Islam. They have been working hard to achieve their goals while staying true to their beliefs. It’s very encouraging to see that we, as a community, can rise up and be recognized.

So, without further ado, here are the Muslim kings and queens that were featured as part of 2019’s TIME 100 List of Most Influential People: 


1. Hasan Minhaj

The Indian-American comedian, writer, actor, producer, political commentator, and television host was nominated by Trevor Noah to be on TIME 100. On March of 2018, Hasan started hosting his own show, Patriot Act, where he boldly discusses politics and the truth of what’s going on in the world. Before that, he was working on The Daily Show. He uses his platform to bring a unique twist to heavy contemporary topics of discussion.


2. Mahershala Ali

Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, an American actor and rapper, is the recipient of many awards including two prestigious Academy Awards and one Golden Globe Award. You may also recognize him from his skillful appearance in the political Netflix show, House of Cards. He is the first Muslim to ever win an Oscars for Best Actor. Ali was raised Christian but converted to Islam in 2000 and joined the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which is a revivalist movement within Islam. He has been vocal about the problems he has encountered traveling through airports as an American Muslim after 9/11. Mahershala was nominated for TIME 100 by Octavia Spencer (one of my favorite actresses who shone brightly in the movie of Hidden Figures).


3. Abiy Ahmed

This Ethiopian Prime Minister, serving since April 2018, has revitalized democracy in his country. In the words of Feyisa Lilesa, an Olympian and Silver medalist: “He has released thousands of people from jail. He brought peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea after 20 years of war. And he made it possible for me to come home.” She added, “Yes, people are still protesting. But now, when they protest, they aren’t going to jail. To me, that is democracy. That is hope.”


4. Imran Khan

The Prime Minister of Pakistan is also a former cricketer, the founder of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, and has developed a cancer hospital and research center as well as a university “for kids who could never have dreamed of attending one.” Ahmed Rashid, a  Pakistani journalist has claimed that despite the critics, Imran Khan is Pakistan’s greatest hope. Rashid stated that Imran Khan has what it takes to not only improve the socioeconomic climate in Pakistan, but also to bring peace to South Asia. Khan has been unapologetic about calling out the out the Taliban as non-Islamic and it’s said that he is against the United States’ take on “war on terror,” putting an emphasis on disengaging Pakistan from it.


5. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan

Commonly known as MbZ, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi is the Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE’s Armed Forces and tragically responsible for much of the bloodshed in Yemen. He’s been an inspiration to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, and nothing good has come out of that. Ryan Bohl, an analyst on Middle East and North Africa at the geopolitical ­risk firm Stratfor, explained that the Crown Prince’s motto can be summed-up very simply: “That the benefits outweigh the costs” and that this “compels him onward.” (I believe that a man who considers that a motto shouldn’t be a leader. Thank u, next!)


6. Radhya Almutawakel

The Yemeni human rights defender is the founder of Mwatana Organization For Human Rights. She was actually the first individual to brief the U.N. on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Her organization has been using “field investigations and research to produce accurate and objective accounts of the facts regarding its mission in order to detect and stop human rights violations.” She employs about sixty people, and half of them are women. Thank you, queen, for fighting this horrible and unjustifiable crisis! We’re with you.


7. Loujain al-Hathloul

The Saudi women’s rights activist had been detained several times. Since March 2018, she has been imprisoned and tortured within the walls of a Saudi prison. On March 13th, 2019, she was charged in court for unspecified reasons and she claimed that the Saudi regime even forced her husband to divorce her in October 2018. Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of Human Rights Watch in the Middle East and North Africa, spoke to TIME 100 about Loujain and explained that women in Saudi Arabia have Loujain to thank for their right to drive. Our hearts long for you, queen 🖤


8. Mohamed Salah

The Egyptian footballer (yes, we’re not going to say soccer player because we use the right terms here, wink wink) has been getting lots of attention, not only for his dribble skills and epic goals, but also for his charm and representation of Islam. He’s been a very inspiring figure, providing a positive image of Muslims in a media landscape dominated by negativity. He plays for the British football team Liverpool, one of the top teams in the English league. Salah has also been very supportive of his hometown by sponsoring hospitals and schools. As John Oliver, host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver has said, “Mo Salah is a better human being than he is a football player. And he’s one of the best football players in the world.” I couldn’t have said it better myself! And as if that wasn’t enough, in his interview with TIME, he “has called on men in his country and across the Muslim world to treat women with more respect.” (My little feminist heart is so happy).

Thank you bro! Wallah, you’re amazing.


9. Mahathir Mohamad

Widely credited as the man who restored democracy to Malaysia at a time when the nation was teetering towards totalitarianism, Mahatir Mohamad challenged the corrupt former Prime Minister, Najib Razak, as he was accused of embezzling millions of dollars from Malaysia’s 1MDB development fund.


As a bonus, we present to you, Samin Nosrat:

The Iranian American Chef is famous for her book, “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”, and her Netflix show. Alice Waters, cookbook author and award-winning Chef, has described her as “America’s next great cooking teacher.” While Samin hasn’t personally affiliated herself with Islam, she has spoken frequently of her Muslim mother and grandmother. One of my favorite articles that she’s written is one where she talks about making pork patty for the first time. In one of the most endearing moments ever put expressed, she narrated, “I was assigned to make sausage at work, I silently, half-seriously asked my Muslim ancestors to forgive me.”

Nevertheless, she’s a queen and we wish her all the best!