Sadr has led two uprisings against USA forces in Iraq and is one of the few Shiite leaders to distance himself from Iran.
Whereas lengthy railing towards the United States, the populist firebrand has additionally distanced himself from its key rival Iran, drawing nearer to regional Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia.
The main question for Iraqis, regional powers and Western allies now is who will become the next prime mister and form the government.
Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite activist cleric, was known by the military during the Bush administration as "enemy number one" because he and his coalition killed hundreds of American and allied soldiers.
But after 14 years, more than $1 trillion, millions of Iraqi dead and thousands of USA troops killed and maimed, the US now has less influence over Iraq than it had while former Central Intelligence Agency operative Saddam Hussein was in power.
A document provided to Reuters by a candidate in Baghdad that was also circulating among journalists and analysts showed results from all 18 provinces.
As Kurdistan 24 points out, al-Sadr has "far fewer ties to Tehran than Soleimani's clear preferred victor, Al-Fatih Coalition leader Hadi al-Amiri", which is likely the reason for Soleimani's visit-to form Iraq's next government.
Al-Abadi said at the least, a manual recount should be held in the northern province of Kirkuk after accusations of fraud and faulty machines were made there. Whoever wins the most seats must negotiate a coalition government in order to have a majority in parliament.
The electoral commission said it would release the remainder of the results on Tuesday.
He was followed by Amiri with more than 1.2 million votes, translating into around 47 seats, and Abadi with more than 1 million votes and about 42 seats.
Celebrations erupted in Baghdad's Sadr City, an impoverished quarter that is home to some 3 million people and is named after the cleric's late father, Ayatollah Mohammad Sadq al-Sadr. Since he did not run for a seat, he will not be eligible for the role.
Iraqi firebrand political figure Muqtada al-Sadr is set to be announced the surprise victor of the country's elections and prepared for his new status as government titan by making a call for national unity. Almost 2,600 women ran for office this year.