The Most Famous

RELIGIOUS FIGURES from Saudi Arabia

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This page contains a list of the greatest Saudi Arabian Religious Figures. The pantheon dataset contains 2,272 Religious Figures, 54 of which were born in Saudi Arabia. This makes Saudi Arabia the birth place of the 9th most number of Religious Figures behind Spain and Israel.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Saudi Arabian Religious Figures of all time. This list of famous Saudi Arabian Religious Figures is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Saudi Arabian Religious Figures.

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1. Muhammad (570 - 632)

With an HPI of 100.00, Muhammad is the most famous Saudi Arabian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 193 different languages on wikipedia.

Muhammad ibn Abdullah (Arabic: مُحَمَّد ٱبن عَبْد ٱللَّٰه, romanized: Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh, Classical Arabic pronunciation: [muˈħammad]; c. 570 – 8 June 632 CE) was an Arab religious, social, and political leader and the founder of the world religion of Islam. According to Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet, divinely inspired to preach and confirm the monotheistic teachings of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. He is believed to be the final prophet of God in all the main branches of Islam, though the modern Ahmadiyya movement diverges from this belief. Muhammad united Arabia into a single Muslim polity, with the Quran as well as his teachings and practices forming the basis of Islamic religious belief. Muhammad was born approximately 570 CE in Mecca. He was the son of Abdullah ibn Abd al-Muttalib and Amina bint Wahb. His father Abdullah was the son of Quraysh tribal leader Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim, and he died a few months before Muhammad's birth. His mother Amina died when he was six, leaving Muhammad an orphan. He was raised under the care of his grandfather, Abd al-Muttalib, and paternal uncle, Abu Talib. In later years, he would periodically seclude himself in a mountain cave named Hira for several nights of prayer. When he was 40, Muhammad reported being visited by Gabriel in the cave and receiving his first revelation from God. In 613, Muhammad started preaching these revelations publicly, proclaiming that "God is One", that complete "submission" (islām) to God is the right way of life (dīn), and that he was a prophet and messenger of God, similar to the other prophets in Islam.Muhammad's followers were initially few in number, and experienced hostility from Meccan polytheists for 13 years. To escape ongoing persecution, he sent some of his followers to Abyssinia in 615, before he and his followers migrated from Mecca to Medina (then known as Yathrib) later in 622. This event, the Hijra, marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar, also known as the Hijri Calendar. In Medina, Muhammad united the tribes under the Constitution of Medina. In December 629, after eight years of intermittent fighting with Meccan tribes, Muhammad gathered an army of 10,000 Muslim converts and marched on the city of Mecca. The conquest went largely uncontested and Muhammad seized the city with little bloodshed. In 632, a few months after returning from the Farewell Pilgrimage, he fell ill and died. By the time of his death, most of the Arabian Peninsula had converted to Islam.The revelations (each known as Ayah – literally, "Sign [of God]") that Muhammad reported receiving until his death form the verses of the Quran, regarded by Muslims as the verbatim "Word of God" on which the religion is based. Besides the Quran, Muhammad's teachings and practices (sunnah), found in the Hadith and sira (biography) literature, are also upheld and used as sources of Islamic law (see Sharia).

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2. Ali (601 - 661)

With an HPI of 87.27, Ali is the 2nd most famous Saudi Arabian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 107 different languages.

ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib (Arabic: علي بن أبي طالب; c. 600 – 28 January 661 CE) was a cousin, son-in-law and companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He ruled as the fourth rightly guided caliph from 656 until his assassination in 661. He is one of the central figures in Shia Islam as the first Shia Imam and in Sunni Islam as the fourth of the "rightly guided" (rāshidūn) caliphs (name used for the first four successors to Muhammad). He was the son of Abu Talib and Fatimah bint Asad, the husband of Fatima, and the father of Hasan, Husayn, Zaynab, and Umm Kulthum.As a child, Muhammad took care of him. After Muhammad's invitation of his close relatives, Ali became one of the first believers in Islam at the age of about 9 to 11. He then publicly accepted his invitation on Yawm al-Inzar and Muhammad called him his brother, guardian and successor. He helped Muhammad emigrate on the night of Laylat al-Mabit, by sleeping in his place. After migrating to Medina and establishing a brotherhood pact between the Muslims, Muhammad chose him as his brother. In Medina, he was the flag bearer in most of the wars and became famous for his bravery.The issue of his right in the post-Muhammad caliphate caused a major rift between Muslims and divided them into Shia and Sunni groups. On his return from the Farewell Pilgrimage, at Ghadir Khumm, Muhammad uttered the phrase, "Whoever I am his Mawla, this Ali is his Mawla." But the meaning of Mawla was disputed by Shias and Sunnis. On this basis, the Shias believe in the establishment of the Imamate and caliphate regarding Ali, and the Sunnis interpret the word as friendship and love. While Ali was preparing Muhammad's body for burial, a group of Muslims met at Saqifah and pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr. Ali pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr, after six months, but did not take part in the wars and political activity, except for the election of the third caliph Uthman. However, he advised the three caliphs in religious, judicial, and political matters whenever they wanted.After Uthman was killed, Ali was elected as the next Caliph, which coincided with the first civil wars between Muslims. Ali faced two separate opposition forces: a group led by Aisha, Talha, and Zubayr in Mecca, who wanted to convene a council to determine the caliphate; and another group led by Mu'awiya in the Levant, who demanded revenge for Uthman's blood. He defeated the first group in the Battle of the Camel; but in the end, the Battle of Siffin with Mu'awiya was militarily ineffective, and led to an arbitration which ended politically against him. Then, in the year 38 AH (658-659), he fought with the Kharijites - who considered Ali's acceptance of arbitration as heresy, and revolted against him - in Nahrawan and defeated them. Ali was eventually killed in the mosque of Kufa by the sword of one of the Kharijites, Ibn Muljam Moradi, and was buried outside the city of Kufa. Later his shrine and the city of Najaf were built around his tomb.Despite the impact of religious differences on Muslim historiography, sources agree that Ali strictly observed religious duties and avoided worldly possessions. Some writers accused him of a lack of political skill and flexibility. According to Wilferd Madelung, Ali did not want to involve himself in the game of political deception which deprived him of success in life, but, in the eyes of his admirers, he became an example of the piety of the primary un-corrupted Islam, as well as the chivalry of pre-Islamic Arabia. Several books are dedicated to the hadiths, sermons, and prayers narrated by him, the most famous of which is Nahj al-Balagha.

Photo of Abu Bakr

3. Abu Bakr (573 - 634)

With an HPI of 86.67, Abu Bakr is the 3rd most famous Saudi Arabian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 100 different languages.

Abu Bakr (Arabic: أبو بكر, romanized: Abū Bakr; c. 573 – 23 August 634) was the founder and first caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate ruling from June 632 until his death. He was the most prominent companion, closest advisor and a father-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (c. 570–632). Abu Bakr was born in 573 CE to Abu Quhafa and Umm Khayr. He belonged to the tribe of Banu Taym. In the Age of Ignorance, he was a monotheist and condemned idol-worshipping. As a wealthy trader, Abu Bakr used to free slaves. Following his conversion to Islam in 610, Abu Bakr served as a close aide to Muhammad, who bestowed on him the title al-Siddiq ('the Truthful'). The former took part in almost all battles under the Islamic prophet. He extensively contributed his wealth in support of Muhammad's work and also accompanied Muhammad, on his migration to Medina. By the invitations of Abu Bakr, many prominent Sahabis became Muslims. He remained the closest advisor to Muhammad, being present at almost all his military conflicts. In the absence of Muhammad, Abu Bakr led the prayers and expeditions. After Muhammad's death in 632, Abu Bakr succeeded the leadership of the Muslim community as the caliph. His election was opposed by a large number of rebellious tribal leaders, who had apostatized from Islam. Abu Bakr's commanders kept the rebels in check and subsequently defeated them in the Ridda Wars, as a result of which he was able to consolidate and expand the rule of the nascent caliphate over the entire Arabia. Abu Bakr ordered the initial incursions into the neighboring Byzantium and Sasanian Empire, initiating the Muslim conquests of Levant and Persia respectively. Apart from politics, Abu Bakr is also credited for the compilation of the Quran, of which he had a personal caliphal codex. Abu Bakr nominated his principal adviser Umar (r. 634–644) as his successor before dying in August 634. Along with Muhammad, Abu Bakr is buried in the Green Dome at the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina, the second holiest site in Islam. Though the period of his caliphate was short, it included successful invasions of the two most powerful empires of the time, a remarkable achievement in its own right. He set in motion a historical trajectory that in a few decades would lead to one of the largest empires in history. His victory over the local rebel Arab forces is a significant part of Islamic history. Abu Bakr is widely honored among Muslims.

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4. Husayn ibn Ali (626 - 680)

With an HPI of 84.44, Husayn ibn Ali is the 4th most famous Saudi Arabian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 79 different languages.

Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib (Arabic: حسين بن علي بن أبي طالب, romanized: Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib; c. 626 or 627 – 10 October 680), also known as Abu Abd Allah or Imam Husayn, was a grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and a son of Ali ibn Abi Talib and Muhammad's daughter Fatimah, and a younger brother of Hasan ibn Ali. He is the third Shia Imam after his brother, Hasan, and before his son, Zayn al-Abidin. He is considered a member of the Ahl al-Bayt as well as the Ahl al-Kisa, and he was a participant in the event of Mubahala. Prophet Muhammad described Husayn and his brother, Hasan, as "the masters of the youth of Paradise."During the caliphate of Ali, Husayn accompanied him in wars. After the assassination of Ali, he obeyed his brother in recognizing Hasan-Muawiya treaty, in spite of being suggested to do otherwise. In the nine-year period between Hasan's abdication in AH 41 (660 AD) and his death in AH 49 (669 AD), Hasan and Husayn retreated to Medina, trying to keep aloof from political involvement for or against Mu'awiya. After the death of Hasan, when Iraqis turned to Husayn, concerning an uprising, Husayn instructed them to wait as long as Mu'awiya was alive due to Hasan's peace treaty with him. Prior to his death, Mu'awiya appointed his son Yazid as his successor, contrary to the Hasan-Muawiya treaty. When Mu'awiya died in 680, Yazid demanded that Husayn pledge allegiance to him. Husayn refused to do so. As a consequence, he left Medina, his hometown, to take refuge in Mecca in AH 60 (679 CE). There, the people of Kufa sent letters to him, invited him to Kufa and asked him to be their Imam and pledged their allegiance to him. On Husayn's way to Kufa with a retinue of about 70 men, his caravan was intercepted by a 1,000-strong army of the caliph at some distance from Kufa. He was forced to head north and encamp in the plain of Karbala on 2 October, where a larger Umayyad army of 4,000 arrived soon afterwards. Negotiations failed after the Umayyad governor Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad refused Husayn safe passage without submitting to his authority, a condition declined by Husayn. Battle ensued on 10 October during which Husayn was killed along with most of his relatives and companions, while his surviving family members were taken prisoner. The battle was followed by the Second Fitna, during which the Iraqis organized two separate campaigns to avenge the death of Husayn; the first one by the Tawwabin and the other one by Mukhtar al-Thaqafi and his supporters. The Battle of Karbala galvanized the development of the pro-Alid party (Shi'at Ali) into a unique religious sect with its own rituals and collective memory. It has a central place in the Shi'a history, tradition, and theology, and has frequently been recounted in Shi'a literature. For the Shi'a, Husayn's suffering and death became a symbol of sacrifice in the struggle for right against wrong, and for justice and truth against injustice and falsehood. It also provides the members of the Shi'a faith with a catalog of heroic norms. The battle is commemorated during an annual ten-day period during the Islamic month of Muharram by many Muslims especially Shi'a, culminating on tenth day of the month, known as the Day of Ashura. On this day, Shi'a Muslims mourn, hold public processions, organize religious gathering, beat their chests and in some cases self-flagellate. Sunni Muslims likewise regard the incident as a historical tragedy; Husayn and his companions are widely regarded as martyrs by both Sunni and Shi'a Muslims.

Photo of Hasan ibn Ali

5. Hasan ibn Ali (624 - 670)

With an HPI of 82.19, Hasan ibn Ali is the 5th most famous Saudi Arabian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 61 different languages.

Hasan ibn Ali (Arabic: حسن ابن علي, romanized: Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī; c. 625 – 2 April 670) was the eldest son of Ali and Fatima and a grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He briefly ruled as caliph from January 661 until August 661. He is considered the second Shia Imam, succeeding Ali and preceding his brother, Husayn. In Sunni Islam, Hasan is considered one of the greatest sahaba and part of Muhammad's family of Muhammad. Part of the ahl al-bayt and the ahl al-kisa, he participated in the event of Mubahala. Muhammad described Hasan and Husayn as "the masters of youth in Paradise". During the caliphate of Ali (r. 656–661), Hasan accompanied him in the military campaigns of the First Muslim Civil War. After Ali's assassination in 661, Hasan was subsequently acknowledged caliph in Kufa. Ali's main political rival Mu'awiya I (r. 661–680) refused to recognize Hasan's rule and led an army into Kufa for to press the latter for abdication. In response, Hasan sent a vanguard under Ubayd Allah ibn al-Abbas to block Mu'awiya's advance until he arrived with the main army. Meanwhile, Hasan was severely wounded in an abortive assassination attempt made by the Kharijites, a faction opposed to both Ali and Mu'awiya. This attack demoralized Hasan's army, and many deserted. On the other hand, Ubayd Allah and most of his troops defected after Mu'awiya bribed him. In August 661 (Rabi al-Thani 41 AH), Hasan signed a peace treaty with Mu'awiya on the basis that the latter should rule in compliance with the Quran and the sunna, a council appointed his successor, and his supporters received amnesty. Hasan retired from politics and abdicated in Medina where he eventually died either by a long-term illness or poisoning by his wife, Ja'da bint al-Ash'ath, at the instigation of Mu'awiya (who wanted to install his son, Yazid (r. 680–683), as his successor). Critics of Hasan call his treaty with Mu'awiya an indication of weakness, saying that he had intended to surrender from the beginning and fought half-heartedly. His supporters maintain that Hasan's abdication was inevitable after his soldiers mutinied, and he was motivated by the desire for unity and peace in the Muslim community; Muhammad reportedly predicted that Hasan would make peace among the Muslims. Another Sunni hadith (also attributed to Muhammad) predicted that the prophetic succession would endure for thirty years, which may have been interpreted by at least some early Sunni scholars as evidence that Hasan's caliphate was rightly-guided (rāshid). In Shia theology, the divine infallibility (isma) of Hasan as the second Shia Imam justified his course of action. Shiites do not consider Hasan's resignation from political power detrimental to his imamate, which is based on Nass (divine designation by Muhammad and Ali). In Shia theology, the imamate is not transmissible to another person by allegiance or voluntary resignation.

Photo of Bilal ibn Rabah

6. Bilal ibn Rabah (580 - 642)

With an HPI of 80.00, Bilal ibn Rabah is the 6th most famous Saudi Arabian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 48 different languages.

Bilāl ibn Rabāḥ (Arabic: بِلَال بِن رَبَاح), c. 580–640, was one of the most trusted and loyal Sahabah (companions) of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He was born in Mecca and is considered to have been the first mu'azzin in history, chosen by Muhammad himself. He was a former slave and was known for his voice with which he called people to their prayers. He died in 640, about the age of 60 (or just over 60 in Hijri years).

Photo of Malik ibn Anas

7. Malik ibn Anas (711 - 795)

With an HPI of 79.26, Malik ibn Anas is the 7th most famous Saudi Arabian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 54 different languages.

Malik ibn Anas (Arabic: مَالِك بن أَنَس, ‎ 711–795 CE / 93–179 AH), whose full name is Mālik bin Anas bin Mālik bin Abī ʿĀmir bin ʿAmr bin Al-Ḥārith bin Ghaymān bin Khuthayn bin ʿAmr bin Al-Ḥārith al-Aṣbaḥī al-Madanī (مَالِك بِن أَنَس بِن مَالِك بن أَبِي عَامِر بِن عَمْرو بِن ٱلْحَارِث بِن غَيْمَان بِن خُثَين بِن عَمْرو بِن ٱلْحَارِث ٱلْأَصْبَحِي ٱلْحُمَيْرِي ٱلْمَدَنِي), reverently known as al-Imām Mālik (ٱلْإِمَام مَالِك) by Sunni Muslims, was an Arab Muslim jurist, theologian, and hadith traditionist. Born in the city of Medina, Malik rose to become the premier scholar of prophetic traditions in his day, which he sought to apply to "the whole legal life" in order to create a systematic method of Muslim jurisprudence which would only further expand with the passage of time. Referred to as the "Imam of Medina" by his contemporaries, Malik's views in matters of jurisprudence were highly cherished both in his own life and afterwards, and he became the founder of one of the four schools of Sunni law, the Maliki, which became the normative rite for the Sunni practice of much of North Africa, Al-Andalus (until expulsion of Muslims), a vast portion of Egypt, and some parts of Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, and Khorasan, and the prominent Sufi orders, including the Shadiliyya and the Tijaniyyah.Perhaps Malik's most famous accomplishment in the annals of Islamic history is, however, his compilation of the Muwatta, one of the oldest and most revered Sunni hadith collections and one of "the earliest surviving Muslim law-book[s]," in which Malik attempted to "give a survey of law and justice; ritual and practice of religion according to the consensus of Islam in Medina, according to the sunna usual in Medina; and to create a theoretical standard for matters which were not settled from the point of view of consensus and sunna." Composed in the early days of the Abbasid caliphate, during which time there was a burgeoning "recognition and appreciation of the canon law" of the ruling party, Malik's work aimed to trace out a "smoothed path" (which is what al-muwaṭṭaʾ literally means) through "the farreaching differences of opinion even on the most elementary questions." Hailed as "the soundest book on earth after the Quran" by al-Shafi'i, the compilation of the Muwatta led to Malik being bestowed with such reverential epithets as "Shaykh of Islam", "Proof of the Community", "Imam of the Abode of Emigration", and "Knowledgeable Scholar of Medina" in later Sunni tradition.According to classical Sunni tradition, the Islamic prophet Muhammad foretold the birth of Malik, saying: "Very soon will people beat the flanks of camels in search of knowledge and they shall find no one more expert than the knowledgeable scholar of Medina," and, in another tradition, "The people ... shall set forth from East and West without finding a sage other than the sage of the people in Medina." While some later scholars, such as Ibn Hazm and Tahawi, did cast doubt on identifying the mysterious wise man of both these traditions with Malik, the most widespread interpretation nevertheless continued to be that which held the personage to be Malik. Throughout Islamic history, Malik has been venerated as an exemplary figure in all the traditional schools of Sunni thought, both by the exoteric ulema and by the mystics, with the latter often designating him as a saint in their hagiographies. Malik's most notable student, Al-Shafi'i (who would himself become the founder of another of the four orthodox legal schools of Sunni law) later said of his teacher: "No one constitutes as great a favor to me in the Religion of God as Malik ... when the scholars of knowledge are mentioned, Malik is the guiding star."

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8. Aminah (557 - 577)

With an HPI of 79.25, Aminah is the 8th most famous Saudi Arabian Religious Figure.  Her biography has been translated into 41 different languages.

Aminah bint Wahb (Arabic: آمِنَة بِنْت وَهْب ʾĀminahʾibnat Wahb, died 577 AD), was a woman of Banu Zuhrah clan, and the mother of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

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9. Abdullah ibn Abd al-Muttalib (548 - 570)

With an HPI of 78.97, Abdullah ibn Abd al-Muttalib is the 9th most famous Saudi Arabian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 42 different languages.

Abdullah ibn Abd al-Muttalib (; Arabic: عَبْد ٱللَّٰه ٱبْن عَبْد ٱلْمُطَّلِب, romanized: ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib; c. 546-570) was the father of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He was the son of Abd Al-Muttalib ibn Hashim and Fatimah bint Amr of the Makhzum clan.He was married to Āminah bint Wahb. Muhammad was their only offspring.

Photo of Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib

10. Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib (539 - 619)

With an HPI of 77.53, Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib is the 10th most famous Saudi Arabian Religious Figure.  His biography has been translated into 39 different languages.

Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib (Arabic: أَبُو طَالِب ٱبْن عَبْد ٱلْمُطَّلِب ʾAbū Ṭālib ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib; c. 535 – 619) was the leader of Banu Hashim, a clan of the Qurayshi tribe of Mecca in the Hejazi region of the Arabian Peninsula. He was an uncle of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and father of Ali. After the death of his father Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim ibn Abd Manaf, he inherited this position, and the offices of Siqaya and Rifada. He was well-respected in Mecca, despite a declining fortune.

Pantheon has 54 people classified as religious figures born between 430 and 2000. Of these 54, 2 (3.70%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living religious figures include Saud Al-Shuraim and Rahaf Mohammed. The most famous deceased religious figures include Muhammad, Ali, and Abu Bakr. As of October 2020, 7 new religious figures have been added to Pantheon including Sumayyah bint Khabbat, Umm Kulthum bint Ali, and Ubayy ibn Ka'b.

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Newly Added Religious Figures (2020)

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