New Zealand Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia

Two New Zealanders rank among Islam's top 500

Anwar Ghani has been named for his work leading New Zealand's Islamic associations.

Two New Zealand Muslim leaders have been ranked among the 500 most influential Muslims in the world.

Anwar Ghani, president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), and Kireka Whaanga, leader of the Aotearoa Maori Muslim Association, appear alongside kings, sheikhs and preachers in the list published by the Royal Islamic Strategic Centre in Jordan.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia heads the list as the world's most influential Muslim.

The top 50 were ranked, with the other 450 (including Dr Ghani and Mr Whaanga) named in 10 categories: scholarly, political, administrative, lineage, preachers, women's issues, youth, philanthropy, development and science.

Both New Zealanders appeared under the administrative category.
The centre said of Dr Ghani: "His work leading FIANZ has been considerable, building bridges with the Government as well as with the broader New Zealand population and leaders of other faiths."

It said the association Mr Whaanga leads was the main organisation for New Zealand's Maori Muslims.
Dr Ghani said he was humbled to be on the list. "It is truly a great honour to be included and sharing the list with great Muslim kings and preachers."
Islam is the world's second-largest religion after Christianity.

A 2009 demographic study conducted by Pew Research Centre found 1.57 billion, or nearly 23 per cent, of the world's population professed to be Muslims. New Zealand is home to 37,000 of them.

The top five influential Muslims:
1. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. 2. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey. 3. Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran. 4. King Abdullah of Jordan. 5. King Mohammed of Morocco.

Reprinted from an article by Lincoln Tan, New Zealand Herald

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