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Most Important Historical Figure. Ever.I'm writing an article on influential historical...

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kat-attaque | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 3, 2008 at 10:59 AM via web

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Most Important Historical Figure. Ever.

I'm writing an article on influential historical figures and wanted to get some thoughts on who you think might have shaped history the most. If you had to pick just one person, who do you believe has indelibly stamped--for better or for worse--life as we know it?

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 3, 2008 at 11:35 AM (Answer #2)

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This might not help you much because we'll never know the name of the person I think is the most important in history. I tell my students that the most brilliant people who ever lived were the cave men. How did they look at a sheep and think, "If I shave the wool off that animal and pull it into long strings, I can weave it together to make a coat"? How did they figure out that if they built a fire hot enough, they could melt a rock and shape it into knives and swords? Movies that portray early people as grunting, ignorant brutes are so wrong!

Seriously, as a Christian I have to say that Jesus is the most influential person who has ever lived. Second would be Moses.

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alexb2 | eNotes Employee

Posted April 3, 2008 at 1:02 PM (Answer #3)

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It's almost an impossible question to answer, but I think you'd just have to pick someone who represents a lot of things in one person. Alexander the Great is one whose life shows: education, war, love, conquest, empire, wealth, poverty, change, etc. Through the story of Alexander, you can start to understand some of the common threads that run throughout all history.

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jilllessa | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted April 14, 2008 at 10:11 PM (Answer #4)

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While I have to agree that Jesus was the most important historical figure, because if you believe in him, he is still changing the world today, I also think a case could be made for Abraham.  After all three world religions look to him as a founder and prophet;  Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted May 6, 2008 at 5:45 PM (Answer #5)

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Wow!  This is an interesting question.  I'd have to agree that Alexander the Great is a good answer.  In more modern history, I'd pick Elizabeth the I, who brought the arts, including literature and theater, to the forefront in Britain, which, in turn, ended up greatly influencing American arts, along with many other countries' arts.

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homerj | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 28, 2008 at 5:21 AM (Answer #6)

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Most Important Historical Figure. Ever.

I'm writing an article on influential historical figures and wanted to get some thoughts on who you think might have shaped history the most. If you had to pick just one person, who do you believe has indelibly stamped--for better or for worse--life as we know it?

As a former teacher and amatuer history buff here's my opinion because there is no "right" answer:

Interesting and greatly debatable question. Some initial thoughts in gutenberg, Hammurabi, the farmer in India who invented the plow, but I would have to say it was Genghis Khan - his Mongol empire ruled from sea to sea and connected eastern and western cultures and capitalized on best practices from each community and region that came under his control and incorporated into the local governing body. The influence of his empire is consistently felt today.

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skain | Student , Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 16, 2009 at 8:43 PM (Answer #7)

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Hitler was a very influential man. He had a population of 50 million people following every order he ever gave. I see WWII as the major turning point in societal history. Even though he was evil he changed the modern way of life

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lolsk | Student , Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 9, 2009 at 6:02 PM (Answer #8)

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I would have to say it was Genghis Khan because he was a legendary commander, political leader, and thinker. His Mongol empire ruled from sea to sea and connected eastern and western cultures. He capitalized on the best practices from each community and region that came under his control and incorporated them into the local governing body. Genghis Khan was also tolerant of different religions and made his policies clear to everyone, thus when he brung the Silk Road under one political union; communication and trade between the West, Middle East, and Asia dramatically increased. Finally, Genghis Khan was also one of the first to institute certain levels of meritocracy in his rule. This is a great leap in history because appointments and responsibilities were now being given to people based on their talent and merit (demonstrated ability), instead of their wealth, family connections, cronyism (preferential bias toward friends), class privilege, popularity, or any other historical factor of social position and political power. Thus, when a responsibility or appointment had to be given, it was given to the best. In conclusion, Genghis Khan created a huge empire that was efficiently run and increased communication and trade around the world.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted September 10, 2009 at 10:04 PM (Answer #9)

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The most influence historical figure is most certainly will be one of the religious figures such as Jesus Christ and Buddha. Next in line will be great thinkers, philosophers, and writers. Perhaps the most well known of these in the Western Countries is Socrates. Then come list of people like Mahatma Gandhi who have influenced thinking and actions of very large number of people in a very powerful ways. However if we restrict our choice to Kings and other heads of countries, I will choose King Ashoka, from India who lived in third century B.C.

King Ashoka was a great warrior, who established a big and strong kingdom. He was also a great administrator who introduced many innovations in methods of administration. In addition to this he was also a great humanist. IN the entire history of world he is the only king who renounced war after a victory.

Ashoka achievement after that in spreading the message of non violence in the form are truly unparalleled. In this way he spread his influence, within his lifetime,  to a geographical area which is unparalleled by any single king, or religious head.

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frizzyperm | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted September 11, 2009 at 1:05 AM (Answer #10)

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The most influential historical figure is the person who, 7,500 years ago, discovered how to extract and shape metal. This one discovery rocketed mankind out of the stone age and altered history, and the whole world, forever.

Just because we don't know their name, it doesn't changed their influence.

(similarly, Jethro Tull's seed drill or Gutenburg's printing press had impacts on a scale way beyond kings or armies or holy men.)

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted September 11, 2009 at 5:28 AM (Answer #11)

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If we are talking of inventions, I believe the greatest invention of all time is the humble wheel.

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creativetahani | Student , Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 13, 2009 at 2:11 AM (Answer #12)

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I beleive that the most important historical figure was Prophet Muhmmad, then Jesus Christ.

Also Newten was a great figure.

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enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted November 20, 2009 at 5:45 PM (Answer #13)

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The most influential individual of all time was whoever it was that learned how to start and control a fire.  Of course, if our time is any indication, several must have come across this technique simultaneously.  Fire forever separated human from animal;  it's use created the conditions for civilization to begin.

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juliusnapoleoniiii | Student , Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 27, 2010 at 7:55 PM (Answer #14)

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Napoleon Bonaparte was arguably the most influential and certainly the greatest person ever to have lived. He brought the world out of the darkness of the ancien regime. If you want a true saviour, pick Napoleon Bonaparte.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 17, 2010 at 2:37 PM (Answer #15)

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I agree with others in highlighting Jesus of Nazareth as the figure you would have to go for. Whatever your personal beliefs about Christianity, it is a fact that the existence of Jesus is historically proven and the impact he has had on the world has been amazing - of course, this is an impact that is still ongoing. Just think of how other important historical figures have been influenced by Jesus - Ghandi, for example. Also consider the sheer number of people who have been influenced by him.

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wlaky | Student , Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 10, 2010 at 4:50 PM (Answer #16)

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It was definitely Gaius Julius Caesar.

First what you can read or hear everywhere about him,and everybody know that, is that he played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.He overthrown the goverment he served,and brought revolution to Rome and refused the title of king, but he had more power than the original Roman kings ever dreamed of having.

Julius Caesar was murdered because he was viewed as a tyrant and a threat to the future of the Roman Republic,even it wasn't truth,because he was good man,he pardoned his enemies, improved housing...

About military skills? I think all of you know about "Battle of Alesia" where he defeated Gauls,and it is counted as one of the best tactical moves in military history...and many other battles.

I think there is no need to explain why is Caesar the best historical figure,and that most of you will agree wiith me ^^


 

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harcor | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 21, 2011 at 12:39 AM (Answer #17)

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Most Important Historical Figure. Ever.

I'm writing an article on influential historical figures and wanted to get some thoughts on who you think might have shaped history the most. If you had to pick just one person, who do you believe has indelibly stamped--for better or for worse--life as we know it?

Very thought provoking and my daughter has to do a profile of a historical person this week but it cannot be Jusus. So the favourite is Florence Nightingale but perhaps not historically influential. I thought Bessimer for the blast furnace I am a metallurgist. Hitler; Churchill; but hey its difficult let me see what you finally decide.

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missmurder08 | Student , Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 26, 2011 at 10:51 AM (Answer #18)

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Jimi Hendrix.

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 13, 2011 at 1:59 AM (Answer #19)

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If you mean in the Western world, which is what most of these responses are focused on, I'd say Jesus. If you mean the entire world, I wouldn't even posit an answer, although I'd lean toward someone, e.g. Gutenberg, who is credited with an important technological advance. Honestly, Christopher Columbus would be up there-his actions set in motion a series of events that brought one hemisphere in contact with the other, and obviously neither has been the same since. But then again, he was motivated in part by millenarian Christianity, so we're back to Jesus again. As with most good questions, the only bad answer would be one that was unsupported.

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maliden | Student , Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 17, 2011 at 1:50 AM (Answer #20)

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Napoleon Bonaparte was arguably the most influential and certainly the greatest person ever to have lived. He brought the world out of the darkness of the ancien regime. If you want a true saviour, pick Napoleon Bonaparte.

probably not buddy. Napoleon was a strong French leader, but there are a great many others before and after him who had much more influence on the overall state of the world today. As far as a "savior", he was a man who led hundreds of thousands of his own men (among others) to die in the freezing Russian winter because of his pride.

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toscany | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 22, 2011 at 4:21 AM (Answer #21)

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When we speak of an individual, who has indelibly stamped--for better or for worse--life as we know it, we should not think of Religious figures, for though they touched many persons, their mark was primarily spiritual in nature. I give this title to none other then Her Royal Majesty Queen Victoria, Monarch of The United Kingdom and Ireland, Empress of India.

Queen Victoria's reign of almost sixty-four years, brought the world into the Industrial Revolution, and arranged marriages for her children to lead every important nation of the World. We call this period the Victorian Era, after her. A time that that changed thoughts and beliefs, through the developement of a cultural change which impacted the globe.

The Victorian Era was a time of great importance to science, philosophy, politics, and education. It brought on vast knowledge to societies throughtout the World. The World saw the greatest expansion of the British Empire.  The largest the World has ever known.

Everyone, to this day, practices or has learned something in their day to day lives, that came from this era. It is a fact that everyone has been taught who Queen Victoria is, through education.  No single individual person has to attend church, or be religious, to know the indelible mark her life has made on this Earth.

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gflossmann | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 23, 2011 at 1:01 AM (Answer #22)

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Actually, I think an argument can be made that "you" are the most important figure in history. You are thinking; your life impact is still being formed; all the individuals already mentioned would have NO impact were you not alive and reflecting on it.

We are history, not some obscure guy in a book.

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billybobberkey | Student , Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted June 27, 2011 at 12:20 AM (Answer #23)

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  This question can have many answers, shown above, but the one I would have to say shaped history would have to be William Shakespeare because he  changed playwright history, making his plays well known, read and talked about. But I also would have to say  ELizabeth the first because she did things differently, she brought  class to the English people.

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mikeeverett99 | High School Teacher | Honors

Posted July 8, 2011 at 12:51 PM (Answer #24)

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Jimi Hendrix, and no, I am not joking

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fami | Student , Grade 10 | Honors

Posted July 9, 2011 at 4:34 PM (Answer #25)

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Being  a muslim, my personal credence is that Prophet Muhammad(may peace be upon Him) was the most iinfluential and significant man in history for:

He did not had any political support, wealth, money, ability to read and write and even heirs but still he revolutionalised the way of living of the most cruel and stubborn nation in the world i.e. the Arabs

He was the last messenger of Allah and without any offense he confirmed all the former scriptures and believed on all the earlier Prophets (Jesus, David, Adam, Joseph, Jacub, Moses and all others)

Jesus Christ informed his nation about Prophet Muhammad's arrival and the old testament mentions him... Jesus Christ said "I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the law (which came) before me, and giving glad tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad_____"

On top of everything The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)  interpretated the last of Allah's revealed scripture i.e. The Holy Quran which not only guides humanity but mentions the teachings and stories mentioned in all the former scriptures revealed upon Jesus, Moses, Abraham and David.

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ppooja37 | Student , Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 20, 2011 at 7:02 AM (Answer #26)

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michael jackson

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nrcbtm1 | eNoter

Posted August 3, 2011 at 11:01 AM (Answer #27)

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If you mean in the Western world, which is what most of these responses are focused on, I'd say Jesus. If you mean the entire world, I wouldn't even posit an answer, although I'd lean toward someone, e.g. Gutenberg, who is credited with an important technological advance. Honestly, Christopher Columbus would be up there-his actions set in motion a series of events that brought one hemisphere in contact with the other, and obviously neither has been the same since. But then again, he was motivated in part by millenarian Christianity, so we're back to Jesus again. As with most good questions, the only bad answer would be one that was unsupported.

The people you suggest "If you mean the entire world," Gutenberg and Columbus, are both still from the Western world.  As for Columbus, he thought he found India! If you want to include the East, why not Confucius, or Buddah?

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noralone1 | Teacher | eNoter

Posted August 8, 2011 at 5:30 AM (Answer #28)

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I know my dear that your article is probably already written (I wish I could read it ), but I like the question so much, and would like to add my answer.

I do agree about all the above enotes friends' choices,but I was thinking about another figure that left a great imprint on history.That is the prophet of Muslims "Muhammad".Of humble origins,orphaned at the age of six ,illiterate  and reared in modest surroundings, this man was able to found and promulguate one of the world's great religions.He was successful on both secular and religious levels.he may well rank as the most influential political leader of all time.Of many important historical events, one might say that they were inevitable and would have occurred even without the particular political leader who guided them.But this cannot be said of the Arab conquests. Nothing similar had occurred before Muhammad, and there is no reason to believe that the conquests would have been achieved without him.From Iraq to Morocco, there extends a whole chain of Moslem nations united not merely by their faith in Islam, but also by their Arabic language, history, and culture.Today, thirteen centuries after his death, his influence is still powerful and pervasive.He  exerts an enormous influence upon the lives of its followers.It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence which I feel entitles Muhammad to be considered the most influential single figure in human history.

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kprulz | Student , Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted August 9, 2011 at 7:42 AM (Answer #29)

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jesus. he managed to brainwash thousands of people in his life and millions more from beyond the grave.

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kagroves | Teacher | eNoter

Posted August 9, 2011 at 8:32 AM (Answer #30)

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My answer to this is that Julius Caesar was very influential.  If you stop and think about it, if it hadn't of been for his life and death, the Roman Empire never would have happened.  From the Roman Empire, we get our modern society.  The way that Caesar administered his empire became an example for others.

Machiavelli was also influential, as the things he wrote about in "The Prince" are still used today.  While he may not have been an overwhelmingly popular figure, he taught men how to administer their empires, and created a strong government that was relatively free from invasion.

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daskalos | High School Teacher | Salutatorian

Posted August 20, 2011 at 1:26 PM (Answer #31)

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I would have to say Jesus! More people have been killed in his name and more people killed because of his name that any other person in history.  The Christian Bible is still the best selling book in the word.  If you want to start an argument just mention his name in a pulic setting.  People are still debating what he said, why he said it and if he was just coping what someone else said.

I would have to say Jesus was the most influential person in history.

 

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stephrwilson | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 21, 2011 at 11:52 AM (Answer #32)

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Jesus Christ. Even if he is perceived as a ficitonal characte (which he is not) I do not think there is a more influential person/figure/character in history of time. Jesus performed miracles, endured tremendous suffering, and saved the lives of his people for all eternity. No human or earthly being of any kind can compare. Jesus of Nazareth is the answer.

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jumiry | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted August 26, 2011 at 9:26 PM (Answer #33)

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A few years ago the author Michael N. Hart wrote a book called "The 100: A Listing of the 100 Most Influential Persons in History."  He later revised the book and made some additions and deletions.  This is as close as I have seen to an answer to a question like yours.  There is no single all time most important historical figure, and there is any number of persons from which to choose.  As you narrow your topic a bit, you will find the question becomes even more difficult.  For example, suppose the question were, "which founding father of the US is most important?" George Washington? Thomas Jefferson? Tom Paine? John Adams?  Any answer is subjective.  The best you can hope to do is select from a list of those you perceive to be significant figures and who have had great influence on the world at large.  If you can overcome the natural prejudice for one's own country, ethnicity, era, and personal biases, you will find some interesting options.

 

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docsheng | Student , Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted September 23, 2011 at 7:23 AM (Answer #35)

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I would have to go with Ronald Reagan.

Even though President Obama will get the credit for destroying the United States, it was President Reagan that set it all in motion...

As far as "Jesus" goes, he didn't accomplish that much. It was St. Paul who deserves the credit - he was astute enough to grab onto an idea and take over the whole 'movement.'

Adolf Hitler? He did more damage to his own cause than good. If he would've stepped down in 1938 he would be regarded today as a genius. Instead, he wanted more and more, and lacked the patience to see his ideals reach maturity..

Genghis Kahn? Power achieves nothing if it lacks culture. His empire, like Joseph Stalin's disappeared after his death. Being a brigand isn't that big of a contribution to civilization.

I'm surprised nobody said anything about Deng Xiaoping: he certainly put China on the fast-track. That will be sure to change history....

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arafat12 | Student , Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted October 14, 2011 at 5:50 PM (Answer #36)

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Imam Khomeini from Iran is one of them.

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arafat12 | Student , Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted October 14, 2011 at 6:05 PM (Answer #37)

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Imam Khomeini from Iran is one of them.

I will correct it:

The most important historical figure is the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Imam Khomeini is one of important historical figures.

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loraaa | Student | Valedictorian

Posted October 20, 2011 at 1:06 PM (Answer #38)

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Opinion is: Prophet of Islam Muhammad, because Islam has become widespread in the present time,  and also because the numbers of Muslims have become very, very large.

 The second option is that the Muslim commander Baybars halted the destruction and devastation that they did Genghis Khan and  Hulagu in Baghdad,Because Hulagu burned and threw all the books in Baghdad on the Tigris and Euphrates, until it became the color black.

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napoleoni | Student , Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 11, 2011 at 12:25 AM (Answer #39)

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Michael Hart lists the Prophet Muhammad as the most influential person in history.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_100

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idig03 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 24, 2011 at 2:36 AM (Answer #40)

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The dude who invented the printing press, of course.

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goober7894 | Student , Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 4, 2011 at 4:40 AM (Answer #41)

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I just want to ask... You people do realise the difference between a HISTORICAL and RELIGIOUS person right?

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irha-nadeem | Student , Grade 9 | Salutatorian

Posted December 4, 2011 at 10:39 PM (Answer #42)

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It is a difficult one but what I think and I belive that THE LAST PROPHET: PROPHET MUHAMMAD ( PBUH ) is the most influential person ever in history. His teachings and preachings led to whole of Arabia become Muslim and learn the right way to live.

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hatchetman | eNoter

Posted December 14, 2011 at 9:09 PM (Answer #44)

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In my opinion the most influential historical figure of all time is Ghangas Khan. He united the peoples of Asia and help bring Europe out of the dark ages. If you look into him more I'm sure you will find more reasons but I can't be bothered right now to say all the reasons.

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maggiekb | Student , Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted December 14, 2011 at 11:44 PM (Answer #45)

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While I have to agree that Jesus was the most important historical figure, because if you believe in him, he is still changing the world today, I also think a case could be made for Abraham.  After all three world religions look to him as a founder and prophet;  Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 

I agree. I am a Christian, so I believe that Jesus had a huge impact by saving the world from sin. But even from a secular point of view: Christianity is the world's biggest religion and it affects more people's lives more than anyhting else in the world. Without religion, especially without Christianity, the history of the Western world would make no sense. So yeah, all things considered, Jesus was definitely the most influential person in history.

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maggiekb | Student , Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted December 14, 2011 at 11:54 PM (Answer #46)

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jesus. he managed to brainwash thousands of people in his life and millions more from beyond the grave.

How did Jesus "brainwash" people? Christians have logical, thought-out reasons for their faith. To say that millions of people believe in a certain religion because they have been "brainwashed" is immature, pathetic, petty, and snobby beyond belief. Find an actual argument against my religion next time you go around critisizing it. Thanks!

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redskinsmaniac267 | Student , Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 17, 2011 at 1:17 AM (Answer #47)

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Definitely Michael Jordan or LeBron James
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loraaa | Student | Valedictorian

Posted January 1, 2012 at 5:36 AM (Answer #48)

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This topic is very great, thank you very much for this good effort.
I have benefited a lot from it.
I wish everyone to benefit from this excellent topic.
Thank you again.....

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eastglam | Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 5, 2012 at 12:05 PM (Answer #50)

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Elizabeth I for various reasons: http://www.elizabethfiles.com/elizabeth-is-main-achievements/2465/

Sir Tim Burners-Lee the inventor of the World Wide Web.

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hyperdragoness | Student , Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 5, 2012 at 3:28 PM (Answer #51)

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Jesus Christ would be my top pic plainly for religous reasons and that he was a very influential person in terms of religon. Most people, not to say everyone, would name Jesus (J.C) as one of the most important people in history ever. He is the guy that came up with stories, and proverbs and ideas about how we should live (looki it up in the bible, new testament) in an orderly and spiritually healthy manner. He performed miracles that has been recorded not just in the bible, and he himself is a miracle. The guy cannot die!

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texas55 | Student , Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 18, 2012 at 9:49 AM (Answer #52)

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Abraham Lincoln. No president has ever overcomed as much as Lincoln did. Asides from the crushing depression he often expierenced, he also led the nation through its toughest times. It's a shame we never got to see how different Reconstruction would have been
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jrwilliams4321 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted July 21, 2012 at 10:45 PM (Answer #53)

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I would submit that this (much like just about everything else in history) is subject to the time in which the question is asked.  There was once a poll done in the 1920's among historians of the time, asking virturally the same question, "Who is the most important man in history?" At the time, Henry Ford came in at the third position, as he was one of (if not the) most influential people of his day... For record, he was only surpassed by Napoleon and Christ... so with that thinking in mind, maybe in the modern day, we have to include men likes Gates and Jobs to the list.

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