We asked American Muslims to name the most influential people in their fields. Here’s what they said

Who speaks for American Muslims? The short answer is, no one. No individual or group can claim to speak for this country’s nearly 3.5 million Muslims, a diverse and dynamic population that’s expected to double by 2050. Instead we see spheres of influence that sometimes intersect and overlap.

CNN spent a year interviewing more than 100 American Muslims, asking who they think are the most influential Muslims in their fields. We sought nominees for whom religion is part of their public identity, but other than that, we let American Muslims do most of the talking.

A few nominees declined to participate for personal reasons, but the vast majority were willing. The result is this crowd-sourced list of 25 influential American Muslims. 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.


Hasan Minhaj 2013 (cropped).jpg

He roasted the President

She made Olympic history

He won the ‘genius grant’

She created a Muslim superhero

She represents modest models


He started a Muslim college

He changed how we study Islam

She trains Muslim chaplains

He doesn’t want to fail his faith

She defined ‘Muslim Cool’


He’s the first Muslim in Congress

She led The Women’s March

He oversees US intelligence

She’s fighting Trump’s travel ban

She escaped war, then ran for office


One girl’s pain led to his calling

She opens doors for women

He got arrested on Capitol Hill

She built a mosque for women

He’s the ‘Snapchat imam’


He makes fun of Muslims

Millions watched her TED talk

He’s sorta skeptical about religion

This millennial asks WTF?

He embraces his ‘messy identity’

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