Top 20 best Muslim basketball players in the league currently

Top 20 best Muslim basketball players in the league currently

Grace Waruguru
June 12, 2023 at 9:50 AM

How many Muslim basketball players do you know? The league's players represent various religious backgrounds and beliefs, some affecting their careers and interactions with other players. Check out this article to discover the renowned NBA players who are part of the Muslim religion.

Muslim basketball players
Kyrie Irving drives during a match between Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on April 02, 2023, in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Kevin C. Cox
Source: Getty Images

How many NBA players are Muslim? Establishing the specific number of players who follow Islam might be challenging. Some athletes have openly confessed their faith, performing religious activities openly, like prayer and fasting. Who are the best Muslim basketball players?

Top 20 Muslim basketball players

Are there any Muslim basketball players who converted later in life? Many athletes converted to Islam as adults, while most were born into it. These Muslim basketball players are regarded among the best in the game:

20. Shareef Abdur-Rahim

best Muslim basketball players
Shareef Abdur-Rahim before the NBA G League Next Up Game as part of the 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend on Sunday, February 19, 2023, at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.Photo: Stephen Gosling
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Julius Shareef Abdur-Rahim
  • Date of birth: December 11, 1976
  • Nationality: American
  • Teams: Vancouver Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trailblazers, Sacramento Kings

Shareef is a former power forward and small forward born in 1976 in Marietta, Georgia, USA. His first name means 'noble' while the last means "Servant of the Most Merciful One.''

The athlete joined the NBA in 1996 and played with teams like Vancouver Grizzlies and Portland Trailblazers. He later served as an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings between 2008 and 2010. Abdur-Rahim is the president of the NBA G League, the league's official minor league association.

19. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf

 famous Muslim basketball players
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf prays during the National Anthem before the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on December 11, 1995, at CoreStates Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo: Lou Capozzzola
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf
  • Date of birth: March 9, 1969
  • Nationality: American
  • Teams: Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, Vancouver Grizzlies.

Mahmoud, formerly Chris Jackson, was born in 1969 in Gulfport, Mississippi, USA. He started playing as a Louisiana State University student before joining the league in the 1990 draft. Abdul-Rauf converted from Christianity to Islam in 1991 and has been vocal about his beliefs.

18. Shaquille O'Neal

all Muslim basketball players
Shaquille O'Neal attends the 44th Annual Sports Emmy Awards at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on May 22, 2023, in New York City. Photo: Arturo Holmes
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal
  • Date of birth: March 6, 1972
  • Nationality: American
  • Teams: Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics

'Shaq' is one of the best Muslim basketball players who played for 19 years with the NBA. The former centre is a Sports Analyst with TNT's Inside the NBA. The 2016 Hall of Famer was raised by a Baptist mother and a Muslim stepfather.

O'Neal has been identified as a Muslim but likes to refer to himself as a people person, claiming he is 'everybody,' including Buddhist and Jewish. Shaquille is an Islamic name meaning 'little,' while Raushaun means 'warrior.'

17. Tariq Abdul-Wahad

black Muslim basketball players
Tariq Abdul-Wahad, who converted to Islam in 1997. Photo: Lefranc David
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Tariq Abdul-Wahad
  • Date of birth: November 3, 1974
  • Nationality: French
  • Teams: Sacramento Kings, Denver Nuggets, Denver Mavericks, Orlando Magic

Tariq, previously known as Oliver Michael-St. Jean joined the NBA in 1997 with the Sacramento Kings. That same year, he converted to Islam. His parents were basketball players, and he served as a shooting guard and small forward until 2003. Later, Abdul-Wahad became a coach for Cal State Monterey Bay, a women's basketball team and head coach of the Lincoln High School's team.

16. Ersan Ilyasova

are there any Muslim basketball players
Ersan Ilyasova before the game against the LA Clippers during Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 18, 2021, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Adam Pantozzi
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Ersan İlyasova
  • Date of birth: May 15, 1987
  • Nationality: Turkish
  • Teams: Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, Utah Jazz

Ersan is a Turkish player born in May 1987. He joined the NBA in 2005 and played for 13 seasons with teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons. One of his outstanding performances was in 2012 when he scored 29 points and made 25 rebounds in a game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the New Jersey Nets.

15. Ömer Aşık

current Muslim basketball players in the nba
Omer Asik poses for a portrait at media day on September 24, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Randy Belice
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Ömer Faruk Aşık
  • Date of birth: July 4, 1986
  • Nationality: Turkish
  • Teams: Portland Trailblazers, Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans

Omer is a Turkish player who started playing professionally as a teenager in his home country. In 2008, he was selected into the NBA draft by the Portland Trailblazers and was in the league for eight years.

14. Indira Kaljo

 female Muslim basketball players
Indira Kaljo poses ahead of an exclusive interview in Istanbul, Turkey on January 11, 2016. Photo: Elif Ozturk
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Indira Kaljo
  • Date of birth: December 7, 1987
  • Nationality: Bosnian
  • Teams: Jeddah United

Indira is a Bosnian-American professional player and one of the top female Muslim basketball players. She is famous for advocating for the International Basketball Federation to allow head coverings (hijabs) during competitions. The Tulane University alumnus coaches the Gavilan College Women's basketball team.

13. Jaylen Brown

current muslim basketball players in the NBA
Jaylen Brown speaks during a press conference at TD Garden on May 29, 2023, in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo: Maddie Meyer
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Jaylen Marselles Brown
  • Date of birth: October 24, 1996
  • Nationality: American
  • Teams: Boston Celtics

Jaylen is a small forward and shooting guard signed by the Boston Celtics. He joined the league in the 2016 draft. He joined the league in the 2016 draft. He started playing in high school before joining the University of California's Golden Bears. Brown is a two-time NBA All-Star and is one of the fast-rising black Muslim basketball players.

12. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

how many NBA players are Muslim  ‌
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson before the game against the Denver Nuggets on June 1, 2021, at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Bart Young
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Rondae Jaquan Hollis-Jefferson
  • Date of birth: January 3, 1995
  • Nationality: American
  • Teams: Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, Portland Trailblazers

Rondae is an American small forward and power forward who played with the NBA for six years. Previously, Rondae played for the Arizona Wildcats of the University of Arizona. He is among the famous Muslim basketball players and plays with the TNT Tropang Giga team of the Philippines Basketball Association.

11. Kenneth Faried

Muslim basketball players
Kenneth Faried celebrates against the Capital City Go-Go on March 5, 2023, at the Mexico City Arena in Mexico City, Mexico. Photo: Pablo Lomelin
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Kenneth Bernard Faried Lewis
  • Date of birth: November 19, 1989
  • Nationality: American
  • Teams: Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets

Kenneth Faried was born in 1989 in Newark, New Jersey, USA, and started playing in high school. The 33-year-old was part of the United States national team at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, winning a gold medal and was named to the All-Tournament Team. Faried joined the NBA in 2011.

10. Jusuf Nurkić

best Muslim basketball players
Jusuf Nurkić during the fourth quarter against the LA Clippers at the Moda Center on March 19, 2023, in Portland, Oregon. Photo: Alika Jenner
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Jusuf Nurkić
  • Date of birth: August 23, 1994
  • Nationality: Bosnian
  • Teams: Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers

Jusuf is a Bosnian Muslim athlete who plays with the Bosnian national team and the Portland Trail Blazers. He started playing at 14 and was nominated for the FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year Award in 2014. Nurkić joined the NBA in 2014 with the Chicago Bulls but immediately moved to the Denver Nuggets.

9. Al-Farouq Aminu

famous Muslim basketball players
Al-Farouq Aminu during practice at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. Photo: Noah Graham
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Al-Farouq Ajiede Aminu
  • Date of birth: September 21, 1990
  • Nationality: Nigerian-American
  • Teams: Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers, Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls.

Al-Farouq is a Nigerian-American small forward and power forward who joined the NBA in 2010. He also plays for the Nigerian national team. His name means ''The chief has arrived.'' Aminu is an alumnus of Wake Forest University and was named one of the All-Star Five of the 2015 FIBA Africa Championship.

8. Salah Mejri

all Muslim basketball players
Salah Mejri during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague match against Panathinaikos Opap Athens at Wizink Center on February 24, 2020, in Madrid, Spain. Photo: Sonia Canada
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Salah Mejri
  • Date of birth: June 15, 1986
  • Nationality: Tunisian
  • Teams: Dallas Mavericks, Real Madrid, Beijing Royal Fighters

Salah Mejri is one of the top 10 Muslim players in the league and was the first Tunisian player in the NBA, which he joined in 2015. He played for the Dallas Mavericks for four seasons before proceeding to Real Madrid in 2019. Mejri won the EuroLeague and Spanish League in 2015 and the Spanish King's Cup twice (2014 and 2015). In addition, he bagged the FIBA Africa Championship MVP in 2011.

7. Bilqis Abdul-Qadir

  • Full name: Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir
  • Date of birth: November 11, 1990
  • Nationality: American

Bilqis is a female American Muslim player famous for playing with a hijab on. She gained popularity while playing for the University of Memphis basketball team. The athlete wanted to advance her career in Europe but pulled back because of the FIBA rule prohibiting head gear longer than five inches.

Abdul-Qadir contested the rule's exemption, and the association granted her wish in 2017. Today, Bliqis empowers young women to stay true to themselves using physical activity and basketball as a platform. In addition, the athlete and her husband run a basketball training gym in Ontario, London.

6. Dennis Schroder

black Muslim basketball players
Dennis Schroder warms up before playing against the Denver Nuggets in game three of the Western Conference Finals at Arena on May 20, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Harry How
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Dennis Schröder
  • Date of birth: September 15, 1993
  • Nationality: German
  • Teams: Atlanta Hawks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets

Dennis is a German professional basketball player who is a point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. He joined the NBA in 2013. Schroder owns the Braunschweig basketball team of the Easycredit BBL (Basketball Bundesliga) and has been the majority shareholder since 2018.

5. Dion Waiters

how many NBA players are Muslim  ‌
Dion Waiters warms before a game against the Denver Nuggets during Game Three of the Western Conference Finals on September 22, 2020, in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Dion Waiters Jr
  • Date of birth: December 10, 1991
  • Nationality: American
  • Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers

Dion Waiters joined the NBA in 2012 and won one championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. He started playing in college with the Syracuse University men's basketball team. Waiters won the NBA Rising Star twice in 2013 and 2014.

4. Enes Kanter Freedom

famous Muslim basketball players
Enes Kanter Freedom at the Algemeiner 50th Anniversary J100 Gala at The Ziegfeld Ballroom on November 29, 2022, in New York City. Photo: Jared Siskin
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Enes Kanter Freedom
  • Date of birth: May 20, 1992
  • Nationality: Turkish-American
  • Teams: Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics

Enes is a Turkish athlete drafted in 2011, playing for teams like Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics. He also plays for his country's national team. Before joining the NBA, Freedom played for Fenerbahce in 2008/2009, representing his team in the Euro League and Turkish Super League. He is one of the best Muslim NBA players, boasting a Most Valuable Patriot Award (2022).

3. Gorgui Dieng

Muslim basketball players
Gorgui Dieng warms up before a game against the Miami Heat at FTX Arena on December 10, 2022, in Miami, Florida. Photo: Megan Briggs
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Gorgui Sy Dieng
  • Date of birth: January 18, 1990
  • Nationality: Senegalese
  • Teams: Minnesota Timberwolves, Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks

Gorgui Dieng is a Senegalese basketball player who is one of the current Muslim basketball players in the NBA. Dieng was part of the 2009 ''Basketball Without Borders'' campaign in South Africa, where 60 promising players from across Africa attended. He was named MVP of the camp. Gorgui means ''The Old One'' in his native language.

2. Omer Yurtseven

how many NBA players are Muslim  ‌
Omer Yurtseven poses for a portrait during media day at FTX Arena on September 26, 2022, in Miami, Florida. Photo: Eric Espada
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Ömer Faruk Yurtseven
  • Date of birth: June 19, 1998
  • Nationality: Turkish
  • Teams: Oklahoma City Blue, Miami Heat

Omer is a Turkish national who plays as a centre for Miami Heat. Previously, he played for his country's national youth team and was selected among the Best Five of the 2014 FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship. In 2015, Yurtseven became the youngest player in an NBA preseason game at 17.

1. Kyrie Irving

famous Muslim basketball players
Kyrie Irving during the match between Dallas Mavericks and Sacramento Kings at the American Airlines Center on April 5, 2023, in Dallas, Texas. Photo: Ron Jenkins
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Kyrie Andrew Irving
  • Date of birth: March 23, 1992
  • Nationality: American
  • Teams: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks

Kyrie is one of the most famous Muslim basketball players in the NBA. The point guard and shooting guard joined the league in 2011 with the Cleveland Cavaliers and is signed with Dallas Mavericks.

Best Muslim basketball players
Photo: (modified by author)
Source: UGC

All Muslim basketball players adhere to Islamic practices and teachings, implementing them professionally and personally. Fans will look out for these players' growth as they advance.

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