Malcolm X was a minister, activist, and prominent Black nationalist leader whose ideas and speeches contributed to the development of the Black Power movement. He embraced Islam and the civil rights movement when he completed Hajj. Speaking of his experience in Mecca, he stated that seeing Muslims of all colours interacting as equals participating in the same rituals, displaying a spirit of unity, led him to see Islam as a means by which racial problems could be overcome.
Fatima Al-Fihri (800AD - 878AD) was a Muslim woman who is credited with founding the world's oldest existing university, Al-Qarawiyyin, in the Moroccan city of Fez! During her lifetime, Fatima was called the ‘Mother of Boys’, likely due to her charity and taking students under her wing.
Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi
Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi was a Persian polymath who specialised in various fields, most notably mathematics, astronomy and geography. Known as ‘the father of algebra’, he was the first to present mathematical solutions that are still used to this day, and without them many jobs (e.g., Engineer) and products (e.g., laptops) would not be as they are today!
Mesut Özil is a German professional footballer of Turkish descent. A talented playmaker, he faced controversy in 2019 when he criticised China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims in East Turkestan and was removed from the Chinese versions of FIFA and PES. His team at the time, Arsenal, distanced themselves from the comments.
Muhammad Ali was an American professional boxer and activist. Inspired by his spiritual and political mentor, Malcolm X, Ali became widely known and celebrated for his work outside the ring. As a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, Ali said: “My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America”.
Nadiya Hussain is a British Bangladeshi chef, author and winner of the BBC’s Great British Bake Off. When she won the competition in 2015, she was a full-time mum of three. In her acceptance speech, she said: “I'm never gonna say I can’t do it. I'm never gonna say ‘maybe’. I'm never gonna say, ‘I don't think I can.’ I can and I will”. Since then, she has released several books and TV programmes, and has spoken about her experiences with anxiety.
Riz Ahmed is a British actor, rapper, and activist. Ahmed is notable for his 2017 speech to the House of Commons, where he advocated promoting diversity and combatting negative representations of Muslims in TV and film. From this speech emerged the Riz Test, which raises awareness of the stereotypes of Islam and Muslims that have been constantly reproduced by the media in the years since 9/11 and the global ‘war on terror’.
Hussain ibn Ali ibn Abu Talib
Husayn ibn Ali, son of Ali ibn Abi Talib and grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the third Imam for Shi’a Muslims. Husayn was martyred in the Battle of Karbala when he raised the standard of revolt against injustice. The life and death of Husayn is observed for his justice, courage, and devotion to save the Islamic nation in the face of tyranny and oppression.