South African singer-songwriter Zain Bhikha has been listed on the 2018 Muslim 500, an annual
release by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Jordan. The publication highlights the
world’s 500 most influential Muslims from across the globe, who are renowned in fields, including
Politics, Religious Affairs, Philanthropy/Charity and Development, Social Issues, Business, Science
and Technology, Arts and Culture, Qur’an Reciters, Media, Celebrities and Sports Stars.
“This publication sets out to ascertain the influence some Muslims have on this community, or on
behalf of the community. Influence is: any person who has the power (be it cultural, ideological,
financial, political or otherwise) to make a change that will have a significant impact on the Muslim
world,” state the editors.
Bhikha, a pioneer in the genre of nasheed songs (English songs with a focus on Islamic content) has
been a feature on the list since 2009. He is renowned worldwide and has done many successful tours
and performances across the world, including in Australia, parts of Africa, and the United Kingdom.
Bhikha began his career in 1994 after winning a singing competition run by South African radio
station 702. Interest in Bhikha grew worldwide, and in 1999 Yusuf Islam – also known as Cat Stevens
– contacted Bhikha to record with him. Bhikha has gone on to release thirteen albums.
Of his inclusion in the publication, he has called it a “great honour, especially to be listed alongside
the people on the list.”
Some of the names include Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and activist Malala Yousufzai. Other South Africans on the list include Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, academic and activist Prof Farid Esack, cricketer Hashim Amla, and Islamic scholar Sheikh Seraj Hendricks.
“I am humbled to have my name next to world leaders, philanthropists, scholars, academics, artists,
and especially such noteworthy South Africans,” says Bhikha.
“As Muslims it is incumbent for us to advocate for good and to promote the ideals which Islam instils in us, and I view my inclusion on this list as a reminder to responsibly use whatever platform I may have.”
To access the publication in PDF format, visit