Religious Affiliation of History's 100 Most Influential People

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Religious Affiliation of History's 100 Most Influential People

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Religious Affiliation

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Greco-Roman paganism


Chinese traditional religion/Confucianism




Russian Orthodox


pre-Nicene Christianity


























United Brethren




Dutch Reformed


Egyptian paganism


Mongolian shamanism








Protestant (denomination unknown)



The following list of influential figures from world history comes from Michael H. Hart's book The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History. In the book, Hart provides brief biographies of each of the individuals, as well as reasons for their ranking. takes no position regarding the validity of Hart's rankings. Certainly ranking the relative historical influence of individuals is a subjective process. We welcome and will by happy to post comments from readers suggesting alternative rankings or names of influential individuals who should be included in the "Top 100.

This list of names and their ranks are solely the work of Michael H. Hart. The columns "Religious Affiliation" and "Influence" are the work of We will readily modify notes if there are any inaccuracies.

Note that many influential philosophies (such as Marxist Communism or Confucianism) are not always classified as organized "religions" in the traditional sense, but are classified as such by sociologists because they are a primary motivational worldview for individuals, cultures or subcultures. Also, many founders never considered themselves adherents of philosophies or religions which later bore their name (e.g., Martin Luther and Lutheranism).

In the table below, where there are two religions listed, the first one is the religion the person was born into. The second was the religion or philosophy the person later joined or founded. Comments in the "Influence" column are in bold when the influence is mainly in the realm of religion and philosophy.



Religious Affiliation





Prophet of Islam; conqueror of Arabia; Hart recognized that ranking Muhammad first might be controversial, but felt that, from a secular historian's perspective, this was the correct choice because Muhammad is the only man to have been both a founder of a major world religion and a major military/political leader. More


Isaac Newton

Anglican (rejected Trinitarianism, i.e.,
Athanasianism; believed in the Arianism
of the Primitive Church)

physicist; theory of universal gravitation; laws of motion


Jesus Christ *

Judaism; Christianity

founder of Christianity



Hinduism; Buddhism

founder of Buddhism




founder of Confucianism


St. Paul

Judaism; Christianity

proselytizer of Christianity


Ts'ai Lun

Chinese traditional religion

inventor of paper


Johann Gutenberg


developed movable type; printed Bibles


Christopher Columbus


explorer; led Europe to Americas


Albert Einstein


physicist; relativity; Einsteinian physics


Louis Pasteur


scientist; pasteurization


Galileo Galilei


astronomer; accurately described heliocentric solar system



Platonism / Greek philosophy

influential Greek philosopher



Platonism / Greek philosophy

mathematician; Euclidian geometry




major prophet of Judaism


Charles Darwin

Anglican (nominal); Unitarian

biologist; described Darwinian evolution, which had theological impact on many religions


Shih Huang Ti

Chinese traditional religion

Chinese emperor


Augustus Caesar

Roman state paganism



Nicolaus Copernicus

Catholic (priest)

astronomer; taught heliocentricity


Antoine Laurent Lavoisier


father of modern chemistry; philosopher; economist


Constantine the Great

Roman state paganism; Christianity

Roman emperor who completely legalized Christianity, leading to its status as state religion. Convened the First Council of Nicaea that produced the Nicene Creed, which rejected Arianism (one of two major strains of Christian thought) and established Athanasianism (Trinitarianism, the other strain) as "official doctrine."


James Watt

Presbyterian (lapsed)

developed steam engine


Michael Faraday


physicist; chemist; discovery of magneto-electricity


James Clerk Maxwell

Presbyterian; Anglican; Baptist

physicist; electromagnetic spectrum


Martin Luther

Catholic; Lutheran

founder of Protestantism and Lutheranism


George Washington


first president of United States


Karl Marx

Jewish; Lutheran;
Atheist; Marxism/Communism

founder of Marxism, Marxist Communism


Orville and Wilbur Wright

United Brethren

inventors of airplane


Genghis Khan

Mongolian shamanism

Mongol conqueror


Adam Smith

Liberal Protestant

economist; philosopher; expositor of capitalism; author: The Theory of Moral Sentiments


Edward de Vere
a.k.a. William Shakespeare

Catholic; Anglican

literature; also wrote 6 volumes about philosophy and religion


John Dalton


chemist; physicist; atomic theory; law of partial pressures (Dalton's law)


Alexander the Great

Greek state paganism



Napoleon Bonaparte

Catholic (nominal)

French conqueror


Thomas Edison

Congregationalist; agnostic

inventor of light bulb, phonograph, etc.


Antony van Leeuwenhoek

Dutch Reformed

microscopes; studied microscopic life


William T.G. Morton


pioneer in anesthesiology


Guglielmo Marconi

Catholic and Anglican

inventor of radio


Adolf Hitler

Nazism; born/raised in, but rejected Catholicism

conqueror; led Axis Powers in WWII



Platonism / Greek philosophy

founder of Platonism


Oliver Cromwell

Puritan (Protestant)

British political and military leader


Alexander Graham Bell


inventor of telephone *


Alexander Fleming


penicillin; advances in bacteriology, immunology and chemotherapy


John Locke

raised Puritan (Anglican);
Liberal Christian

philosopher and liberal theologian


Ludwig van Beethoven




Werner Heisenberg


a founder of quantum mechanics; discovered principle of uncertainty; head of Nazi Germany's nuclear program


Louis Daguerre


an inventor/pioneer of photography


Simon Bolivar

Catholic (nominal); Atheist

National hero of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia


Rene Descartes


Rationalist philosopher and mathematician




painter; sculptor; architect


Pope Urban II


called for First Crusade


'Umar ibn al-Khattab


Second Caliph; expanded Muslim empire




king of India who converted to and spread Buddhism


St. Augustine

Greek state paganism; Manicheanism; Catholic

Early Christian theologian


William Harvey

Anglican (nominal)

described the circulation of blood; wrote Essays on the Generation of Animals, the basis for modern embryology


Ernest Rutherford


physicist; pioneer of subatomic physics


John Calvin

Protestant; Calvinism

Protestant reformer; founder of Calvinism


Gregor Mendel

Catholic (Augustinian monk)

Mendelian genetics


Max Planck


physicist; thermodynamics


Joseph Lister


principal discoverer of antiseptics which greatly reduced surgical mortality


Nikolaus August Otto


built first four-stroke internal combustion engine


Francisco Pizarro


Spanish conqueror in South America; defeated Incas


Hernando Cortes


conquered Mexico for Spain; through war and introduction of new diseases he largely destroyed Aztec civilization


Thomas Jefferson

Episcopalian; Deist

3rd president of United States


Queen Isabella I


Spanish ruler


Joseph Stalin

Russian Orthodox; Atheist; Marxism

revolutionary and ruler of USSR


Julius Caesar

Roman state paganism

Roman emperor


William the Conqueror


laid foundation of modern England


Sigmund Freud

Jewish; atheist; Freudian psychology/psychoanalysis

founded Freudian school of psychology/psychoanalysis (i.e., the "religion of Freudianism")


Edward Jenner


discoverer of the vaccination for smallpox


Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen


discovered X-rays


Johann Sebastian Bach

Lutheran; Catholic



Lao Tzu


founder of Taoism



raised in Jansenism;
later Deist

writer and philosopher; wrote Candide


Johannes Kepler


astronomer; planetary motions


Enrico Fermi


initiated the atomic age; father of atom bomb


Leonhard Euler


physicist; mathematician; differential and integral calculus and algebra


Jean-Jacques Rousseau

born Protestant; 
converted as a teen to Catholic; 
later Deist

French deistic philosopher and author


Nicoli Machiavelli


wrote The Prince (influential political treatise)


Thomas Malthus

Anglican (cleric)

economist; wrote Essay on the Principle of Population


John F. Kennedy


U.S. President who led first successful effort by humans to travel to another "planet"


Gregory Pincus


endocrinologist; developed birth-control pill




founder of Manicheanism, once a world religion which rivaled Christianity in strength



Russian Orthodox;
Atheist; Marxism/Communism

Russian ruler


Sui Wen Ti

Chinese traditional religion

unified China


Vasco da Gama


navigator; discovered route from Europe to India around Cape Hood


Cyrus the Great


founder of Persian empire


Peter the Great

Russian Orthodox

forged Russia into a great European nation


Mao Zedong

Atheist; Communism; Maoism

founder of Maoism, Chinese form of Communism


Francis Bacon


philosopher; delineated inductive scientific method


Henry Ford


developed automobile; achievement in manufacturing and assembly




philosopher; founder of a school of Confucianism




founder of Zoroastrianism


Queen Elizabeth I


British monarch; restored Church of England to power after Queen Mary


Mikhail Gorbachev

Russian Orthodox

Russian premier who helped end Communism in USSR



Egyptian paganism

unified Upper and Lower Egypt




Holy Roman Empire created with his baptism in 800 AD



Greek paganism

epic poet


Justinian I


Roman emperor; reconquered Mediterranean empire; accelerated Catholic-Monophysite schism



Hinduism; Jainism

founder of Jainism

Source of list of names: Hart, Michael H. The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, Revised and Updated for the Nineties. New York: Carol Publishing Group/Citadel Press; first published in 1978, reprinted with minor revisions (reflected above) in 1992.

In the afterword to his book The 100, Michael H. Hart listed 100 runners-up, all of which are listed here. The book's afterword also included brief discussions about ten of these runners-up (about one page each). These discussions include notes about their influence and about they were not included in the top 100. Hart states that these ten individuals should not be thought of as numbers 101-110 on the list. The ten runners-up discussed are: St. Thomas Aquinas; Archimedes; Charles Babbage; Cheops; Marie Curie; Benjamin Franklin; Mohandas Gandhi ; Abraham Lincoln; Ferdinand Magellan; Leonardo da Vinci. The other runners-up are simply listed, without further details or discussion. 

Webmaster's Comments about this Webpage

This list is compiled only for fun and reference. Certainly no theological or sociological inferences should be drawn from a subjectively chosen list of only 100 people from throughout human history. These individuals clearly transcend statistical sociological analysis. Nevertheless, it is fascinating to consider the varied ways in which the lives and contributions of nearly all of them were profoundly influenced by their religious background and personal beliefs. ("Contribution" may not be the best word to describe the influence of some of these individuals, such as Hitler, Stalin, etc.)

Also, the "Influence" column in the table is very brief. It is only provided only to refresh one's memory about the identity of the historical person - not to encapsulate or summarize their career.

The most-represented religious group on this list is obviously Catholicism. This should be expected, given the many centuries that the most technologically and economically advanced Western world was synonymous with the Catholic world.

The most obscure faith group represented on this list is the Sandemanians, who were never very numerous. The physicist Michael Faraday (23rd on this list and history's 9th most influential scientist, according to Hart) was a devout member of this now-extinct group. Other small minority religious groups represented here are Jansenists (Voltaire) and some Quakers.

It is worth noting that many of the individuals on this list were the founders, major propagators, or reformers of major world religions: Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Buddha, St. Paul, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Mencius, Mani, Mahavira, Marx, Plato, Calvin, Martin Luther, Zoroaster, Mao. Many would include Freud among these. Other philosophers on this list made contributions which had an impact on religion but are not founders of a religion or branch of religion.

Of the twelve "classical world religions", the founders of eight are represented on this list (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism). Shinto and Hinduism have no founder. Sikhism and the Bahai Faith (the youngest of the "classical world religions") have founders (Guru Nanak Dev and Baha'u'llah, respectively), but Hart did not include them on his list. 

Comments from Readers of this Website about the Ranking of Jesus on this List

Jesus Christ 
It is not uncommon for people to wonder why Jesus is not ranked first on this list. As far as the way the list appears on this web page, the answer is simple: We have reproduced Hart's list in exactly the order he wrote it. But it is true that many people, both Christians and secular historians, would have ranked Jesus first on a list of the world's most influential people. Hart said that he himself would have ranked Jesus first, if all the people who today identify themselves as Christians actually followed Jesus's teachings more substantially. He considers contemporary Muslims more influenced by Muhammad than contemporary Christians are by Jesus.

Also, Hart's outlook was essentially secular in outlook. He did consider the doctrinal role of Jesus in human salvation as taught by Christianity. Muhammad, on the other hand, carved out an actual, geographic empire during his lifetime. Christians as well as historians agree that Jesus himself conquered no lands and led no armies during his lifetime.

John H. Kerr, an elder in the Presbyterian Church of Canada wrote us on this topic. His ideas, echoed by many and presented here with his permission are below:

In my opinion no one has come near to Jesus Christ with respect to His influence on so many aspects of our world and society. Most schools of higher learning in the English speaking world and many in the non-English speaking world exist because of Christ. Women and children throughout this world, with the exception of a few countries have a much better way of life because of what Christ taught and people accepted. The peace, good will and renewal that result each year from the celebration of His birth is astounding. Many of the internalional charities that exist today are Christian based. The Christian work ethic has spurred inventions of all sorts that have benefited mankind enormously. Just think of the influence Christians have had down through the centuries, every bit of their influence is either directly or indirectly associated with the influence Christ had on them. Many of these Christians are on Hart's list.

Even Karl Marx owed his fanatical promotion of communism to the revenge he sought for being bounced out of a Christian Seminary, by a misdirected priest.

To a point the creation of such a list is as you point out subjective, and subject to the bias of the individual or group that prepare it. But, for the life of me, I cannot conceive how any well read individual with eyes to see and ears to hear, would not place Jesus Christ at the top of such a list, so far ahead of the next most influential person that one would leave at least the subsequent 9 spaces on the list vacant, to emphasize this point.

All of the creation wouldn't exist if it were not for Jesus Christ. When one begins to dwell on what would or would not have been, had Christ not existed in the beginning, let alone had He not come to earth 2000 years ago it boggles the mind. When I think of the thousands of prayers answered, lives changed, wars ended or avoided, I can't help but thank such a benevolent Lord. Was it not the influence of a Christian mother on her son, the leader of the Soviet Union, and a Christian American President, working with Mikhail Gorbachev that brought an end to the cold war. When we look at the cause and effect of so many major positive events in our history, we see the hand of Christ working on one or more of His servants.

John McDonagh (22 July 2005), who identifies himself as an informal proponent of freethought (a secular movement dedicated to reasoning independently of authority, especially religious dogma and revelation), wrote in response to John H. Kerr's statements:

John Kerr's comment may seem puzzling to the uniniated reader when he says that "All of the creation wouldn't exist if it were not for Jesus Christ. When one begins to dwell on what would or would not have been, had Christ not existed in the beginning". To the uninitiated reader, Jesus was born within the last 3000 years, so they may feel baffled as to how he could have participated in the creation of the universe billions of years ago. In fact, Mr. Kerr has let slip in the Gospel of John idea that Jesus eternally preexisted as the cosmic Logos.

Mr. Kerr would do well to read this quote:

"Muslims believe that Jesus did not die on the cross (Koran 4:157), but this does not mean that historians (even Muslim historians) can use this belief as historical evidence that Jesus was not crucified. What one believes and what one can demonstrate historically are usually two different things."

-Robert J. Miller, Bible scholar, (Bible Review, December 1993, Vol. IX, Number 6, p. 9)

[John Kerr also wrote:] "Most schools of higher learning in the English speaking world and many in the non-English speaking world exist because of Christ."

[John McDonagh responds:] As shown by Joseph McCabe in his Rationalist Encyclopedia, education in the Roman Empire suffered upon the acceptance of Trinitarian Christianity.

[John Kerr also wrote:] "Women and children throughout this world, with the exception of a few countries have a much better way of life because of what Christ taught and people accepted."

[John McDonagh responds:] Mr. Kerr seems ignorant of the worldwide history of ethics. In fact, many of the helpful ideas espoused by Jesus were espoused by the Buddha, Confucius, etc. hundreds of years before Jesus allegedly lived and were common knowledge internationally already. Jesus' relatively original ideas, such as his emphasis on eternal damnation, his discouragement of intellectualism and critical thinking, his authoritarian leadership style, and his childish intolerance have not contributed to the improvement of social conditions.

Timothy W. Foutz (28 June 2002) also wrote to us about the ranking of Jesus on Hart's list:

Hart's criteria is clearly biased. His list is supposed to be about the most influential people, but he put Muhammad first because he was both a religious and military leader. Apparently one has to have a diverse resume to make the list. But there is a huge difference between what a person did themselves and how much of an influence they were. When Jesus ascended into heaven, there were only 120 people he could call his followers, so personally he was not very influential. But the movement he started is undoubtedly the most influential of all human history. I think Hart's list has value, but why make such a list if he wasn't going to be honest with the data? My suspicion is that Hart didn't want Jesus to be first on the list for personal reasons regardless of what history has clearly shown.

Alan Thibideau wrote (9 October 2002):

Aside from my religious affiliations and the present climate (after 9/11), it makes more sense that Christ sit atop the list of most influential individuals simply because history turned on his life more so than it did any other single figure. No one else can claim that history turned on a dime after his life. 

The fact that someone was both a spiritual and national leader is not relevant in this sense. That is a personal accomplishment and might make that person more successful in his lifetime but does not make him necessarily a more influential person in history. So whoever did this ranking is simply incorrect if their criteria was the most influential person in history.

The Rev. Anthony J. Felich, (Pastor of the Redeemer Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church in America) in Overland Park, Kansas; offered the following comments (9 April 2004):

While I appreciate the idea that Muhammad was both a founder of religion and a political/military leader, he should not displace Jesus Christ. Newton should be third at best. My obvious religious convictions aside:

1. Our dating system is based on Christ 

2. 80% of the people in your top 100 were Christian or some sect thereof, not Islamic. 
3. For good or bad, many wars have been fought over Christianity. 
4. Christianity has mingled with "the state" in hundreds of countries for centuries.

Technically, Muhammad invented a religion somewhat based on Zoroastrianism. It was not very unique, when analyzed. Jesus Christ is the forecasted Jewish Messiah and the founder of the Christian Church. Hard to get more influential than that. 

John F. Kennedy over FDR? Seriously? Other than the Cuban Missle Crisis, what did he really do? Cultural icon maybe, but over FDR? Even Truman was more influential.

Whoever invented the television [Philo Farnsworth] should be way up near the top. It has forever changed communication... probably not for the better.

Rev. Felich wrote (above): "Technically, Muhammad invented a religion somewhat based on Zoroastrianism. It was not very unique, when analyzed. Jesus Christ is the forecasted Jewish Messiah and the founder of the Christian Church. Hard to get more influential than that."

John McDonagh (22 July 2005) wrote in response to this statement (and another item on this page):

Mr. Felich steps into matters beyond the ambit of the historian. A historian would have to discount Jesus as the forecasted Jewish messiah, since 99.999999999% of all rabbis would not accept Jesus as the forecasted messiah. For that matter, Christianity, as with Islam, remains quite derivative.

Also, most historians would credit Paul with the establishment of the Christian Church.

Partially as a response to Rev. Felich's comments (and other comments shown here), M. S. Abdullah has written a list of 16 Reasons why Muhammad (not Jesus) should be ranked first on the list of history's most influential people., an Evangelical Christian, said he agreed with Mr. Hart's choice for the top 2 spots, and that Jesus should be listed even lower. His explanation is here.

Mark Aubart expressed the opinion that Jesus should not even be on a list of mortal men. You can read his explanation here.

Musa Raza's response to Aubart, and his reasons why Muhammad should be at the top of the list are here.

Patrick Egbuchunam of Lagos, Nigeria wrote this thoughtful and detailed essay explaining why Jesus should be ranked #1 on the list of history's most influential people.

Other Suggested Revisions, Additions to the List

Michael McConnell (25 Sept. 2001) also suggests that some revisions to Hart's list are in order:

I just glanced at your list of the 100 most influential people and their religion and all I can say is this list is terrible at best. Jesus would have to be number one, Marx/Muhammad tie for number 2... Issac Newton was put above Marx who influences social-economic policy to this day.

Aki Nestori Vainio, a self-described atheist from Finland, does not believe that Moses existed (9 June 2003):

The book [The 100] is indeed very subjective, as you remark on your page. My main problem with it is the fact that Moses is seated at 15. I would've omitted him completely. He probably did not exist. He is a mythological character, just like Sankara, who did not make it into the book.

[Most people would probably disagree with Vainio, simply because the existence of the books attributed to Moses -- books which are the mostly widely published texts in human history -- strongly suggest that somebodyhad to write them. That person (or persons) would clearly be highly influential on human history, regardless of the particulars of his life.]

Steve Petersen [] made the following suggestion (27 April 2002:

Yes, indeed, I think you need to add another person to your list! What about Ellen G. White of the Seventh Day Adventist Church? She wrote more books than any other woman in history!

On 6 August 2002, Jukka Vatanen of Finland wrote with the following suggestion:

My vote for the list of "Top 100" is NICOLA TESLA, who was the actual inventor of the radio. Marconi was most successiful in capitalizing the usage of it, but TESLA was first. He also invented the Tesla turbine that powered the Niagara Falls alternating current generators. The alternating current being propably his greatest invention, making it possible to transfer high voltage current long distances. This invention alone would make him of same importance as Marconi etc...

Charles Benedetti wrote:

I predict that the most influential person of all time will be L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology (1954). It may take 10 years, or 25 or 50, but that day will surely come. I make this statement after 20 years of experiencing and drawing from the deep reservoir of this spiritual philosophy and Wisdom. Only those who have experienced Scientology would understand these words, and therefore I would not expect others to understand or agree with me. For those who may seek to know more about Scientology, see my website:

- Dean Knoblauch of Canada made many suggestions, including the suggestion to add Philo Farnsworth and Miguel de Cervantes to the list. His detailed suggestions are here

- Dr. M. A. Hafeez suggested that Ibn Nafis replace William Harvey on the list. More
- Mark Soakai suggested Joseph Smith, Jr. should be on the list. More
- Dragon Atma explained why he felt Columbus isn't so influential, and discussed who should really be #1. More.

Of course, the most ridiculous ommission of all from Hart's list is Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of the television. His invention came relatively late in history, and so he had no impact on humanity during the first thousands of years of civilization. But today television has so completely transformed human culture, values, beliefs, etc. that its inventor is easily one of the most influential people in history with regards to people now living.


Many Muslims have written to us about this webpage. All that have written to us are in agreement with Hart's assessment of Muhammad's top-ranked place on this list, but many have written to disagree with parts of Hart's description of Muhammad. In particular, a number of correspondents have written to point out that Muhammad is not the author of the Qu'ran, but is in fact the Prophet through whom Allah delivered the Qu'ran to humanity. Hamzah Jaradat's notes on this are representative of this discussion: Mohammad is the not the author of the Qu'ran.

Excerpt from Hart's book:

My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world's most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels... 

Muhammad founded and promulgated one of the world's great religions, and became an immensely effective political leader. Today, thirteen centuries after his death, his influence is still powerful and pervasive... Like all religions, Islam exerts an enormous influence upon the lives of its followers. It is for this reason that the founders of the world's great religions all figure prominently in this book. Since there are roughly twice as many Christians as Moslems in the world, it may initially seem strange that Muhammad has been ranked higher than Jesus. There are two principal reasons for that decision. First, Muhammad played a far more important role in the development of Islam than Jesus did in the development of Christianity. Although Jesus was responsible for the main ethical and moral precepts of Christianity (insofar as these differed from Judaism), St. Paul was the main developer of Christian theology, its principal proselytizer, and the author of a large portion of the New Testament. 

Muhammad, however, was responsible for both the theology of Islam and its main ethical and moral principles. In addition, he played the key role in proselytizing the new faith, and in establishing the religious practices of Islam. Moreover, he is the author of the Moslem holy scriptures, the Koran, a collection of certain of Muhammad's insights that he believed had been directly revealed to him by Allah. Most of these utterances were copied more or less faithfully during Muhammad's lifetime and were collected together in authoritative form not long after his death. The Koran therefore, closely represents Muhammad's ideas and teachings and to a considerable extent his exact words. No such detailed compilation of the teachings of Christ has survived. Since the Koran is at least as important to Moslems as the Bible is to Christians, the influence of Muhammed through the medium of the Koran has been enormous It is probable that the relative influence of Muhammad on Islam has been larger than the combined influence of Jesus Christ and St. Paul on Christianity. On the purely religious level, then, it seems likely that Muhammad has been as influential in human history as Jesus. 

Furthermore, Muhammad (unlike Jesus) was a secular as well as a religious leader. In fact, as the driving force behind the Arab conquests, he may well rank as the most influential political leader of all time... the Arab conquests of the seventh century have continued to play an important role in human history, down to the present day. It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence which I feel entitles Muhammad to be considered the most influential single figure in human history.

M. S. Abdullah has written a list of 16 Reasons why Muhammad (not Jesus) should be ranked first on the list of history's most influential people.

Musa Raza's his reasons why Muhammad should be at the top of the list are here.

Additional Notes about the Religious Affiliation and Religious Beliefs of History's 100 Most Influential People

NOTE: presents this list, and Hart's arguments, for informational purposes. We do not take any stand on the validity of Hart's statements. We welcome (and will post online) alternative viewpoints. 

Is Alexander Graham Bell really the inventor of the telephone?: There is some dispute over whether or not Bell is "the inventor" of the telephone. A helpful document is: Who is credited as inventing the telephone? Was it Alexander Graham Bell, Elisha Gray, or Antonio Meucci?, a page sponsored by the Science Reference Services of U.S. The Library of Congress. This page states that "Alexander Graham Bell was the first to patent the telephone," but also points out that Gray and Meucci played important roles in the development of the telephone. On the other hand, the Italian Society of America has an article about Antonio Meucci that casts the Italian inventor as the true father of the telephone, and takes a dim view of Bell.

Additional Comments From Readers

M. S. Abdullah's
Reasons Why Muhammad (Not Jesus)
Should be Ranked as Most Influential Person in History

M. S. Abdullah (email address: sent us this letter and list on 25 August 2004: 

To the owner of

I am a comparative religion student who would like to share my views on this list. I would like to shed some light as to the order of Muhammad and Jesus on this list. Please feel free to use this e-mail on your website.

I believe that Muhammad should be the first in the list even though Jesus was a great man, Muhammad was an even greater man and a greater influence to humanity. Michael Hart (a non-Muslim, in particular a Christian) was correct in taking a non-biased view and choosing Muhammad.

Just look at the statistics and history

  • Christianity (1.9+ billion people). 600 year head start on Islam

  • Islam (1.5+ billion people). Catching up at a rate of 10:1. Many of the converts are Atheists or Christians (including many Church leaders and ministers). By 2025 Muslims will outnumber Christians.

  • In America pre 9/11 40000+ people convert to Islam per year, post 9/11, people have became curious about what makes Muslims tick. They are now discovering that what Muslims like these do are completely in the opposite direction to the teachings of Muhammad and Islam, hence why the number of converts has increased to 78000+ a year.

  • Jesus' message was 2.4 years, Muhammad's 23 years

  • Jesus' had 120 followers at the end of his time on earth Muhammad had millions

  • Muhammad confirmed Jesus and believed in him, as Jesus said to his disciples whilst in the Garden of Gethsemane that someone would come to confirm him

  • Jesus said he came to the tribe of Israel only, Muhammad said he came to all mankind.

  • The different denominations of Christianity don't agree with each other about Mary, Jesus, the trinity, the many versions and revisions of the Bible etc, whereas the different denominations of Islam agree that Muhammad is the final Prophet, Jesus is a Prophet and performed miracles, God is One and Only, and the exact Quran as at the time of Muhammad is still used today by all the denominations, and the originals are still available.

  • 10's of millions of Muslims have memorised the entire Quran all over the world, whereas no Christian has memorised the bible and if they did they would have to memorise their own version and would have to update their memorisations every time a new revision was released.

  • The bible that we know today was written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John (who are they? Real name? Last name?) and Paul (Saul of Tarsus: A Christian Killer) who preached to the Gentiles which Jesus said not to do. None where direct disciples of Jesus.

  • What is known as Apocrypha today is the Gospels that the Roman (Origin Pagans: worshiped many gods, human gods etc) Catholic Church wanted to destroy because it denies the trinity and the divinity of Jesus and reveals the coming of another (Muhammad). "Eg. The Gospel of Barnabas was accepted as a Canonical Gospel in the Churches of Alexandria till 325 C.E. In 325 C.E., the Nicene Council was held, where it was ordered that all original Gospels in Hebrew script should be destroyed. An Edict was issued that any one in possession of these Gospels will be put to death" (

  • Jesus did not found Christianity and the Church (Paul did). Muhammad founded Islam.

  • Muhammad taught a way of life from birth to death. Things as simple as one should sit down when they put their shoes on etc (This has been medically proven that putting your shoes on whilst standing and hunching causes lower back pain). He taught every day life issues etc.

  • The Quran contains many scientific information that has been confirmed by science only in the last century. Would Muhammad have known all this stuff or is he a lucky guesser?

  • The world as we know it today was influenced by Islam, scientifically, mathematically, medically, agriculturally as well as through art etc. Islam promoted education for both men and women whereas the Church forbade it and called it blasphemy and the penalty was death to anyone who would go against the Church ( a documentary by non-Muslim American historians and lecturers in religion)

  • Islam is in no way derived from Zoroastrianism but follows on from Judaism as Christianity did.

The list can go on for many pages, but I think that has said enough.

So looking at the facts from a subjective point of view shows that there should be no doubt that Muhammad should be the first on the list.

M. S. Abdullah

Churchiaya, an Evangelical Christian:

Jesus should be even further down on list,
the way to life eternal in narrow offered an unusual perspective, reprinted here with his permission. Although he did not identify his denominational background, based on his email and his website (, it is clear that he is an Evangelical. Clearly he is not a Catholic. He wrote:

I am Christian and I feel that Mr. Hart's choice for #1 and #2 were appropriate; for the road to destruction is broad so that it is obvious that the biggest deception be listed first. I am thus disappointed that Jesus is not further down on his list and that pope john paul and the false doctrine of catholicism is not listed #3 after islam and science... As for the influence with respect to Christianity, especially on this list reflects that the way to life eternal in narrow. This of course is to God's dismay, it is not His will that any should perish. Mr. Hart was correct in seeing that few were properly influenced in regard to true Christianity, for many people are worshipping a false christ. Moreover if one is not in darkness, they will not be offended by this list for in the end every knee will bow at the name of Jesus.

Mark Aubart: 

Jesus is above all men

Mark Aubart (29 October 2004) wrote to express the opinion that Jesus should not even be on a list of mortal men. He provided this explanation to post on this website:

It is obvious to me, and it ought to be obvious to all mankind, that no research or understanding of who the "Christ" is went into the list of top 100 Religious Leaders. Hart does not seem to me to be legitimate in his creation of a list of mortals to include the CHRIST (Isa) in it at all. In fact, Jesus (the Christ) should not even be on the list, he is above all men, as he is (still today) the son of God - he LIVES! ALL people, everywhere, know this. Adherents would be best to either make note of this and remove his name from this list of mere men, or simply single him out above the list as "the Savior". Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected (the only man on earth ever in the history of the world to resurrect). Jesus lives! Isn't this enough to put him above mere man? Just take his name off the list (and make note of it) so you won't have to deal with this issue any longer. Your list shames man and humanity by placing the living Christ on that list of mortal beings. Christianity bases salvation on grace from God who sent his son for the final sacrifice for all men (all people). Christianity promises everlasting life for those who commit themselves to the seeking the WORD, receiving the holy spirit, and accepting Jesus as their personal savior. Jesus (Isa) removed labels and levels within the body of believers, we are all equal!

Born-again Believers of the son of God "the WORD" (the WORD is GOD)


Musa Raza: 

Christ should be respected, but it is Muhammad who should be listed Number 1

With all my respect due to Mr. Mark, I think his respect towards Christ is mandatory as per his belief but only to my friend's remarks that the only man on earth ever in the history of the world to resurrect is The Christ. That's also the belief of all the Muslims on earth, it is true that Holy Prophet Essa (Christ) will come back before the Day of Judgment. But what would he say about our Holy Prophet Muhammad to whom Allah (God) called upon through His messenger Jibraeel (Gabriel) towards Him to meet His Holy body (Muhammad), Muhammad who met Allah and asked the forgiveness of not only his nation but for those who were to be coming toward Islam after His Virtual Demise as to the Muslims belief that all the Prophets sent from Allah are alive and living in heaven. Holy Muhammad came back to earth after meeting with Allah within no time according to the world, because when he came back to earth his door lock was moving and his bed was still warm so no one could imagine Allah's (God's) Miracles like this which All the Muslims celebrate as the night of Mairaj, So in the end what would my friend say about who is the best among men or in other words The Best Among Humanity because He (Muhammad) was sent as Peace for all the world visible or invisible created by Allah he did not only sent His Messenger for Muslims but also for the worst humanity which was being tolerated by those who were living a most immoral carnage life in the history, In Qur'an Allah says that I sent You (Muhammad) as Peace to all the livings on earth and hereafter. Therefore there were no commandments for him that he's been sent only for Arabs or Muslims.

He's the Prophet of every existence as Allah says in Qur'an That I created all the heavens and all the worlds just in your (Muhammad's) Love because you are the Best among My (Allah's) creations.

One more thing I would like to clear for all the readers that Muhammad is Not the Author of Qur'an like Mr. Hart explained in his reason for Choosing Him the #1 most cogent person.

Qur'an was sent by Allah Almighty through His messenger Jibraeel (Gabriel) not at once but with passage of time and completed in almost 23 years, Qur'an is Allah's message towards humanity in which Allah have cleared all the disbeliefs of other religions included.

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