Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
15 February 2010

Reforming Islam

The ten modern Islamic intellectuals you should know about.

By Ian K Smith

To coincide with this week’s Islam special, we name the ten most influential modern Islamic intellectuals. These are the names that you should know, the scholars and activists who have changed our thinking about the religion and its place in society.

1. Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (d.1897)

The prime mover in the Islamic renaissance.

2. Muhammad Abduh (d.1905)

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

The reformer.

Content from our partners
“I learn something new on every trip"
How data can help revive our high streets in the age of online shopping
Why digital inclusion is a vital piece of levelling up

3. Muhammad Rashid Rida (d.1935)

Defender of the faith and key advocate for the Caliphate.

4. Muhammad Iqbal (d.1938)

Pakistan’s national poet and the most eloquent proponent of Islamic modernism.

5. Hassan al-Banna (d.1949)

The schoolteacher and founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.

6. Sayyid Qutb (d.1966)

The Islamist.

7. Ali Shari’ati (d.1977)

The revolutionary.

8. Sayyid Abul-A’la Maududi (d.1979)

The Islamist politician and leader of the righteous vanguard.

9. Ayatollah Khomeini (d.1989)

Shia cleric and symbol of the Iranian Revolution.

10. Tariq Ramadan (b.1962)

The radical reformer.