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.
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
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’
We'd love to hear what you think about this project, including the influential Muslims you would include on your list. Please email us at Muslim25@CNN.com.