For the fourth consecutive year, President Muhammadu Buhari, the
Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Saad Abubakar III, and the infamous Boko
Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, have been listed among the most
powerful Muslims in the world.
This is contained in a Muslim publication, The Muslim500 in its 2020
edition, an annual compilation of the good, the bad, and the ugly in
the Islamic world, which was obtained by SaharaReporters today
Buhari is listed 17th and the Sultan, 20th most powerful Muslims and
Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram leader, is listed as one of the seven most
powerful Muslim extremists in the world, in the latest report.
Billionaire businessman and philanthropist, Aliko Dangote, and the
Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, also made the list.
Others are Egypt and Liverpool’s star player, Mohammed Salah; Real
Madrid coach, Zinedine Zidane; and Manchester United’s Paul Pogba.
According to the publication released on the Muslim500 website, Buhari
has achieved much progress in the areas of corruption, economy, and
security in Nigeria.
President Buhari, who has always been accused by his critics of being
a religious bigot, was described in glowing terms in the Muslim500
The publication said of the president: “President Muhammadu Buhari won
his second term as President of Nigeria in February 2019, beating his
rival by more than three million votes.”
It noted further: “President Buhari began his military career at the
Nigerian Military Training School of Kaduna in 1963. He was involved
in military counter-coups in 1966 and 1975, and the coup of 1983 which
overthrew the democratically-elected government and resulted in him
being head of state for two years. During these years, he gained fame
for his all-out war against corruption and indiscipline, a reputation
he has since kept. In 1985 he was overthrown and kept in detention for
“President Buhari ran as the main opposition candidate in the
presidential elections of 2003, 2007 and 2011, all ending in defeat,
before winning in 2015. His platform was built around his image as a
staunch anti-corruption fighter and his reputation for honesty and
incorruptibility. He is considered an icon by the Muslims of northern
Nigeria, but enjoys nationwide respect due to his stance on
Of Shekau, the publication said, “Shekau is the head of Boko Haram, a
terrorist group in Nigeria that has carried out a number of
atrocities. He speaks Hausa, Arabic, and English, and claims to have
undergone theological training. He has appeared in videos posted
online, most notably after the kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls in
“In March 2015, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to DA’ISH and stepped up
their terror attacks, including a massacre of over 150 Muslims praying
in mosques during Ramadan. In August 2016, DA’ISH appointed Abu Musab
Al-Barnawi as the group’s new leader, but Shekau refused to recognize
Barnawi’s authority. Unconfirmed reports of Shekau’s death are
regularly disproved every few months.”
While commenting on the influence the Sultan wields in Nigeria, the
Muslim500 report noted: “Amirul Mu’minin Sheikh as Sultan Muhammadu
Sa’adu Abubakar III is the 20th Sultan of Sokoto. As Sultan of Sokoto,
he is considered the spiritual leader of Nigeria’s 85.5 million
Muslims, who account for roughly 50 percent of the nation’s
population. Although the position of Sultan of Sokoto has become
largely ceremonial, the holder is still a central figure for Nigerian
It added, “Abubakar holds important administrative influence in
Nigerian religious life. Abubakar is the titular ruler of Sokoto in
northern Nigeria and is also the head of the Nigerian National Supreme
Council for Islamic Affairs.
“The leadership of this council means that the Sultan of Sokoto
remains the only figure that can legitimately claim to speak on behalf
of all Nigerian Muslims. This role has become increasingly influential
over the years with a rise in interreligious tensions between
Nigeria’s Muslim majority north and Christian-majority south.”
The latest report described Sanusi, the14th Fulani Emir of Kano, as
the second-highest “Muslim authority in the land (the Sultan of Sokoto
being the first)”.
Sanusi succeeded his late uncle Dr. Ado Bayero in 2014.
“He is the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and a
respected Islamic scholar who has won numerous awards. He has pointed
out corruption in previous governments, pushed for an end to child
marriage and been a target for Boko Haram,” said the publication.