This book is solely involved with the question of who were the 100 persons who had the greatest effect on history and on the course of the world. I have ranked these 100 persons in order of importance: that is, according to the total amount of influence that each of them had on human history and on the everyday lives of other human beings.

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.

The majority of the persons in this book had the advantage of being born and raised in centers of civilization, highly cultured or politically pivotal nations.

Muhammad, however, was born in the year 570, in the city of Mecca, in southern Arabia, at that time a backward area of the world, far from the centers of trade, art, and learning. Orphaned at age six, he was reared in modest surroundings. Islamic tradition tells us that he was illiterate.

Of humble origins, 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.

Michael H. Hart (American astrophysicist) The 100: A ranking of the most influential persons in history. Citadel press, 1978