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 ٱبْن عَبْد ٱللَّٰه‎, romanized: Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh Classical Arabic pronunciation: [muˈħammad]; c. 570 CE – 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, sent 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 some modern denominations diverge 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 (Year of the Elephant) in Mecca. He was the son of Abdullah ibn Abd al-Muttalib and Amina bint Wahb. His father was the son of Quraysh tribal leader Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim, and Abdullah 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.

Ali ibn Abi Talib (Arabic: عَلِيّ ٱبْن أَبِي طَالِب‎, ʿAlīy ibn ʾAbī Ṭālib; 13 September 601 – 28 January 661) 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 and is one of the central figures in Shia Islam, being regarded as the rightful immediate successor to Muhammad and the first Imam by all branches of Shia Muslims. He is the son of Abu Talib and Fatimah bint Asad, the husband of Fatimah al-Zahra, and the father of Hasan, Husayn and Zaynab.As a child, due to his father's debt, Mohammad 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. It is said that he helped Muhammad emigrate on the night of Laylat al-Mabit. Then Muhammad, after migrating to Medina and establishing a brotherhood pact between the Muslims, 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 caused their division 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 and performing his funeral rites, a group of Muslims met at Saqifah and pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr. Ali initially refused to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr; But finally, after six months, he pledged allegiance to him. Ali did not take part in the wars during the caliphate of the first three caliphs and had no political activity except for the election of the third caliph. But, he advised the three caliphs whenever they wanted, in religious, judicial, and political matters.After Uthman was killed, he was elected the fourth caliph of the Muslims. His caliphate coincided with the first civil wars between Muslims. Ali faced two separate opposition forces: a group led by Aisha, Talhah, and Zubayr in Mecca, who wanted to convene a council to determine the caliphate. And another group led by Muawiyah in the Levant who demanded revenge for Uthman's blood. Four months after his caliphate, Ali defeated the first group in Battle of the Camel; But in the end, Battle of Siffin with Muawiyah was militarily ineffective, and led to an arbitration which ended politically against Ali. Then, in the year 38 AH, 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 was a deeply religious figure devoted to Islam and a just ruler in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah. He strictly observed religious duties and avoided worldly possessions. Some writers accused him of lack of political skill and flexibility. According to Wilferd Madelung, his refusal to participate in the new game of political deception and clever opportunism that had taken root during his caliphate in the Islamic State, although depriving 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. Many of Ali's short speeches have become part of Islamic public culture, and Arabic-language writers have referred to Ali's unparalleled eloquence and sermons. Several books are dedicated to the hadiths, sermons, and prayers narrated by him, the most famous of which is Nahj al-Balagha. Numerous poems and writings in different languages in praise of Ali's position are also part of the literature and religious culture of Muslim nations. Iran has named his birthday Father's Day.

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 Abdullah ibn Uthman Abi Quhafa (Arabic: أَبُو بَكْرٍ عَبْدُ ٱللهِ بْنِ عُثْمَانَ ابي قحافة‎; c. 573 CE – 23 August 634 CE) was the closest companion and, through his daughter Aisha, a father-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, as well as the first of the Rashidun Caliphs. Abu Bakr became one of the first converts to Islam and extensively contributed his wealth in support of Muhammad's work. He was among Muhammad's closest companions, accompanying him on his migration to Medina and being present at a number of his military conflicts, such as the battles of Badr and Uhud. Following Muhammad's death in 632, Abu Bakr succeeded in the leadership of the Muslim community as the first Rashidun Caliph. During his reign, he overcame a number of uprisings, collectively known as the Ridda wars, as a result of which he was able to consolidate and expand the rule of the Muslim state over the entire Arabian Peninsula. He also commanded the initial incursions into the neighbouring Sassanian and Byzantine empires, which in the years following his death, would eventually result in the Muslim conquests of Persia and the Levant. Abu Bakr died of illness after a reign of 2 years, 2 months and 14 days.

Photo of Husayn ibn Ali

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: ٱلْحُسَيْن ٱبْن عَلِيّ ٱبْن أَبِي طَالِب‎, romanized: Al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlīy ibn ʾAbī Ṭālib‎; 10 January AD 626 – 10 October 680) was a grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and a son of Ali ibn Abi Talib (the fourth caliph of Sunni Muslims and the first imam of Shia Muslims) and Muhammad's daughter Fatimah. He is an important figure in Islam as he was a member of the Household of Muhammad (Ahl al-Bayt) and the People of the Cloak (Ahl al-Kisā'), as well as the third Shia Imam. Prior to his death, the Umayyad ruler Mu'awiya appointed his son Yazid as his successor, contrary to the Hasan-Muawiya treaty. When Muawiya died in 680, Yazid demanded that Husayn pledge allegiance to him. Husayn refused to pledge allegiance to Yazid, even though it meant sacrificing his life. As a consequence, he left Medina, his hometown, to take refuge in Mecca in AH 60. There, the people of Kufa sent letters to him, asking his help and pledging their allegiance to him. So he traveled towards Kufa along with a small caravan of his relatives and followers, after getting some favorable indications, but near Karbala his caravan was intercepted by Yazid's army. He was killed and then beheaded in the Battle of Karbala on 10 October 680 (10 Muharram 61 AH) by Yazid, along with most of his family and companions, including Husayn's six-month old son, Ali al-Asghar, with the women and children taken as prisoners. Anger at Husayn's death was turned into a rallying cry that helped undermine the Umayyad caliphate's legitimacy, and ultimately its overthrow by the Abbasid Revolution.The annual commemoration of Husayn and his children, family and companions occurs during Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, and the day he was martyred is known as Ashura (the tenth day of Muharram, a day of mourning for Shi'i Muslims). Husayn's actions at Karbala fueled later Shi'a movements, and his death was decisive in shaping Islamic and Shi'a history. The timing of Husayn's life and death were crucial as they were in one of the most challenging periods of the seventh century. During this time, Umayyad oppression was rampant, and the stand that Husayn and his followers took became a symbol of resistance inspiring future uprisings against oppressors and injustice. Throughout history, many notable personalities, such as Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, have cited Husayn's stand against oppression as an example for their own fights against injustice.

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.

Al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib (Arabic: ٱلْحَسَن ٱبْن عَلِيّ ٱبْن أَبِي طَالِب‎, romanized: Al-Ḥasan ibn Alīy ibn Abī Ṭālib; 1 December 624 – 1 April 670 CE), also spelled Hasan or Hassan, was the older son of Ali and Fatimah, and the grandson of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam. He is the second Imam of Shia after his father Ali and before his brother Husayn. He is also the maternal ancestor of The Twelve Shia Imams from Muhammad al-Baqir to Muhammad al-Mahdi, as well as the Ismaili Imams. Muslims and especially Shias call him Imam Hassan Mojtaba (Arabic: ٱلْإِمَام ٱلْحَسَن ٱلْمُجْتَبَىٰ‎‎). His nickname is Abu Muhammad. He is considered to be from Ahl al-Bayt as well as Ahl al-Kisa. According to some Sunnis such as Bukhari, he is the fifth and the last Rightly Guided Caliphs; and was known for his forbearance and kindness. Hasan spent the first seven years of his life with his grandfather, Muhammad. Narrations are reported from Muhammad that show his interest in Hasan and his brother, Husayn; such as: "Hasan and Husayn are the masters of the youth of Paradise." The most important event of Hasan's childhood is participating in the Event of Mubahala and being called "our sons" in the verse of Mubahala. During the caliphate of Ali ibn Abi Talib, Hasan was in his father's service and accompanied him in wars. After the assassination of Ali, Abdullah bin Abbas called on the people to pledge allegiance to Hassan. Hassan gave an speech in which he mentioned the merits of his father and family and his close relationship with Muhammad. He stated that the condition for accepting the caliphate on his part was people's obedience to his orders and decisions. The pledgers were to fight whoever is fighting Hassan and make peace with whoever is at peace with him. This statment made people wonder if Hassan intends to make peace with Mu'awiyah. As soon as the news of Hasan's selection reached Mu'awiyah, who had been fighting Ali for the caliphate, he condemned the selection, and declared his decision not to recognize him. Letters exchanged between Hasan and Mu'awiyah before their troops faced each other were to no avail. As the news of Muawiyah's army reached Hasan, he ordered his local governors to mobilize. Hasan appointed ‘Ubayd Allah ibn al-Abbas as the commander of his vanguard of twelve thousand men to move to Maskin. There, he was told to hold Mu'awiyah, until Al-Hasan arrived with the main army. While Al-Hasan's vanguard was waiting for his arrival at Maskin, Hasan himself was facing a serious problem at Sabat near Madain, where he gave a sermon after morning prayer in which he instructed his troops not to disobey "whatever orders he gave them." Taking this as a sign that Al-Hasan was preparing to give up battle and make peace with Muawiya, some of his troops rebelled against him and looted his tent. Hasan shouted for his horse and rode off surrounded by his partisans. While they were passing by Sabat, however, al-Jarrah ibn Sinan, a Kharijit, managed to ambush Hasan and wounded him. He was taken to Madain, where he was cared for by his governor. The news of this attack, having been spread by Mu‘awiyah, further demoralized the already discouraged army of Hasan. His commander at Al-Maskin, Ubayd Allah, accepted Muhawiah's bribe and deserted at night. According to Veccia Vaglieri, Iraqis had no wish to fight and each day a group of them joined Mu'awiya. It seems that 8000 men out of 12000, followed the example of their general, Ubayd Allah. Muawiyah, who had already started negotiations with Al-Hasan, now sent high-level envoys, while committing himself in a witnessed letter to appoint Hasan his successor and give him whatever he wished. According to Wilferd Madelung, Hasan surrendered the reign over the Muslims to Mu'awiyah on the basis that "he act according to the Book of God, the Sunnah of His Prophet and the conduct of the righteous caliphs. Mu'awiyah should not be entitled to appoint his successor but that there should be an electoral council (Shura); the people would be safe, wherever they were, with respect to their person, their property and their offspring; Mu'awiyah would not seek any wrong against Hasan secretly or openly, and would not intimidate any of his companions." Thus Hasan abdicated to Muawiyah I, the founder of the Umayyad dynasty to end the First Fitna. After Hasan's abdication, the caliphate turned into kingship. For the rest of his life, Hasan retired in Medina, trying to keep aloof from political involvement for or against Muawiyah; until he died and and was buried in the Jannat al-Baqi cemetery in Medina. His wife, Ja'da bint al-Ash'at, is commonly accused of having poisoned him at the instigation of Muawiyah.Hasan has been criticized for his readiness to divorce, which brought about the title Mitlaq (the divorcer) for him, also for giving in to Mu'awiay without fight. Hassan's abdication caused debates on the possibility and conditions of ousting the Imam from the Imamate among the sects that considered the Imamate to be the will and allegiance of the people. The results of these discussions are related to the issue of the legitimacy of Mu'awiyah's caliphate. The Muʿtazila theologians, who, according to the foundations of their beliefs, did not recognize Mu'awiyah as the Imam, reasoned that Hasan ibn Ali remained Imam after the peace treaty with Mu'awiyah. Contrary to this approach, Sunni theologians, who recognized Mu'awiyah's caliphate, considered the peace treaty as Hassan's resignation from the position of Imamate. Shias believe that Hasan's Imamate was not at the disposal of the people, and in principle, the Imamate is not transmitted to another person through allegiance to another person or the voluntary resignation of the Imam. According to the Shias doctrine, Imamate of Hassan is based on Nass of the Prophet and Ali.

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.

Bilal ibn Rabah (Arabic: بِلَال ٱبْن رَبَاح‎, Bilāl ibn Rabāḥ , 580–640 AD) 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 AD, at the age of 60 (or just over 60 in Hijri lunar 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 ابْن 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 Maliki Sunnis, 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.

Amina bint Wahb (Arabic: آمِنَة بِنْت وَهْب‎ ʾĀmna ʾibnat Wahb, died 577 AD) was a noble 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 Abdul-Muttalib ibn Hashim and Fatimah bint Amr of the Makhzum clan.He was married to Āminah bint Wahb. And 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 – c. 619) Abu Talib means; The father of Talib, born ʿImrān (عِمْرَان) or ʿAbd Manāf (عَبْد مَنَاف), 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 the Rashid Caliph 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.

Living Religious Figures

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Deceased Religious Figures

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Newly Added Religious Figures (2020)

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