CNN spent a year interviewing more than 100 American Muslims in their quest to generate a “crowd-sourced” list of 25 influential Muslims in various fields. “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,” according to CNN.
– Hasan Minhaj: The comedian
After several years at “The Daily Show,” a popular stand-up special, and a star-making set at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2017, Minhaj just inked a deal with Netflix to host his own weekly talk show.
– Ibtihaj Muhammad: The Olympian
In the 2016 Olympics, Muhammad became the first Muslim-American to wear a hijab in Olympic competition, where she won a bronze medal in the team sabre event. Muhammad now has her eye on the World Fencing Championships. In between training, she runs a fashion line and speaks about tolerance and diversity. She also has her own hijab-wearing, Olympic-fencing Barbie doll.
— Feryal Salem: The teacher
When Feryal Salem was growing up in Illinois, many of the teachers who instructed her in Islamic law and theology were women, a tradition she continues as co-director of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program at Hartford Seminary. Salem is also an assistant professor of Islamic scriptures and law at Hartford and associate editor of The Muslim World, an academic journal.
— Imam Zaid Shakir: The people’s imam
Imam Zaid Shakir converted to Islam while serving in the Air Force, after years of living in rough inner-city neighborhoods. In 2009, Shakir co-founded Zaytuna College, and in 2016 he conducted the funeral services for one of his heroes: the late boxer Muhammad Ali.
— State Rep. Ilhan Omar: The resilient refugee
In 2016, Ilhan Omar was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives, where she brings a personal perspective to this country’s heated debate about admitting immigrants and refugees. Omar’s journey to become this country’s first Somali-American Muslim lawmaker began in a refugee camp in Kenya, where her family was escaping Somalia’s brutal civil war and immigrated to the United States in 1995 as a child.