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Biography of Akbar Ahmed

According to the BBC, “Professor Akbar Ahmed is probably the world’s best-known scholar on contemporary Islam.” He is the former High Commissioner of Pakistan to Great Britain, and has advised Prince Charles and met with President George W. Bush on Islam. He is now Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and professor of international relations at American University in Washington, DC. Dr. Ahmed is a distinguished anthropologist, writer, and filmmaker. He has been actively involved in interfaith dialogue and the study of global Islam and its impact on contemporary society for many years.

Dr. Ahmed joined the Civil Service of Pakistan, the elite cadre of the Central Superior Services of Pakistan, in 1966. He held important posts in Pakistan and Bangladesh—including Commissioner, Quetta; Political Agent, South Waziristan Agency; Founder-Director General of the National Center for Rural Development, Islamabad. He resigned from service in the summer of 2000. Parallel to his civil service career, Dr. Ahmed was visiting professor at Harvard University, Cambridge University, and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

Dr. Ahmed is the author of many books on contemporary Islam, including Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and Society, which was the basis of the BBC six-part TV series called “Living Islam”. His Postmodernism and Islam: Predicament and Promise was nominated for the Amalfi Award, and his “Jinnah Quartet,” a four-part project on Pakistan’s founding father, M.A. Jinnah, has won numerous international awards. His Islam Today: A Short Introduction to the Muslim World was rated among the best non-fiction books of the year by the Los Angeles Times. Professor Ahmed just published Islam Under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World (Polity Press, July, 2003). His books have been translated into many languages, including Chinese and Indonesian.

Dr. Ahmed has made frequent media appearances in the United Kingdom and the United States. He has been interviewed on CNN, MSNBC, NBC Nightly News, and BBC. He has appeared several times on the “Oprah Winfrey Show”. Dr. Ahmed is a regular syndicated columnist for Religion News Service.

Dr. Ahmed has delivered a number of keynote addresses to prestigious organizations. He addressed members of Congress at the bipartisan Congressional retreat in Greenbrier. He has conducted courses on Islam as Chief Moderator for the Society of Fellows Seminar and the Socrates Society at the Aspen Institute, the Young President’s Organization, and the World Bank. He was the featured speaker in the Summer Speakers Series of the Aspen Institute in Summer 2003.

Dr. Ahmed is the recipient of the Star of Excellence in Pakistan and the Sir Percy Sykes Memorial Medal given by the Royal Society of Asian Affairs in London. He is also the recipient of the 2002 “Free Speech Award” given by the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington, DC. He was appointed Trustee of the World Faiths Development Dialogue by the Archbishop of Canterbury. In Summer 2003, he was appointed Charter Member of a national-level interfaith initiative based at the National Cathedral by the Bishop of Washington, DC. Dr. Ahmed was a member of the Oxford and Cambridge Club in London and is a member of the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC.

For media requests, contact:
Kathryn Coulibaly
American University
(202) 885-5935 or

For speaking engagements, contact:
Jan Du Plain
Du Plain International Speakers Bureau
(202) 244-3338 or


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