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Prof. Akbar Ahmed

Dr. Akbar S. Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and Professor of International Relations at American University in Washington, DC. He has been actively involved in interfaith dialogue and the study of global Islam and its impact on contemporary society.

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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 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. More

Other Views

Akbar S Ahmed lone Muslim voice in favour of Daniel Pipes nomination, Daily Times,
Lahore, July 26, 2003

Article claiming Dr Ahmed’s endorsement of Daniel Pipes’s nomination to the governing board of the federally-funded US Institute of Peace.

- Dr. Ahmed's letter of protest to the Daily Times, August 2003
- Statement by Dr. Akbar Ahmed regarding Daniel pipes nomination to the USIP,
July 31, 2003

Pakistan's treatment of Intellectuals, Pakistan Link, USA, January 25, 2003
The treatment meted out to Professor Abdus Salam, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Professor Akbar, Ahmed Faraz, Qurat ul Ain Haider and many more was motivated by considerations which overshadowed their contributions to Pakistan. Among the many hopes that one has of a new Pakistan under the leadership of President Musharraf is a better treatment of its intellectual treasures. This is of paramount importance.


Iraq War & Call for Jihad, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, USA, August 15, 2003
In Egypt, a group of Islamic scholars said jihad -- meaning holy war -- becomes a duty for all Muslims if the U.S. attacks Iraq. The scholars said such an attack would constitute a new "crusade" not only against Islamic territory but on Islam itself. Therefore, said the scholars, all Muslims are obligated to defend their land and their religion.We want to explore the significance of that statement with Akbar Ahmed, Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, where he also teaches international relations. Dr. Ahmed is a former Pakistani ambassador to Great Britain.

Islam Under Siege, The Globalist, USA, July 20, 2003
Some people around the world view the age of terrorism as the age of Islam. This does not mean that Islam has benefited from terror acts. On the contrary, many Muslims feel that their religion is under pressure like never before. Akbar Ahmed - author of the intriguing book “Islam Under Siege” - explains why and how Islam is under siege.

Muslim Women - The Untold Story, The Globalist, USA, March 07, 2003
The world is paying more attention than ever before to Muslim countries. However, the treatment of women in some of these countries has been cause for outright shock. In many ways, the present treatment of women in those countries reflects tribal — rather than Islamic — values. In this Globalist Interview, Professor Akbar Ahmed — Chair of Islamic Studies at American University — offers new perspectives.

Islam & War - The Real Story, The Globalist, USA,February 22, 2003
As the United States of America is preparing to go to war in the Middle East, it is worth asking what Islam says about war. Do the United States — or its opponents in the region — meet the surprisingly strict requirements that Islam imposes before Muslims can go to war? Professor Akbar Ahmed, anthropologist and Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, explains.

When Honor is Threatened, The Globalist, USA, September 13, 2002
What effect does globalization have on the traditional societies in the Middle East? Akbar Ahmed, former Pakistani High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, provides a surprising answer to this question. In this Globalist Interview, he points out that the key impact of globalization on traditional societies may not be on their economy — but on their sense of honor and dignity.

World in Focus Interview with Prof. Akbar Ahmed, Australian Broadcasting Corporation,
Australia, November 19, 2001

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in the United States there are fears in some circles that the ensuing war against terrorism could widen to become a defacto war on Islam. Professor Akbar Ahmed, who holds the Chair of Islamic Studies at the American University, is also the producer of a six-part series for television entitled "Living Islam". He talks to Jennifer Byrne from the ABC's Washington studio.


Dialogue in Decorah, March 2004
The little town with the big heart will need all its courage and compassion in the coming time. The battle for the soul of the Midwest is joined here in Decorah. Its outcome will affect the shape and form of society in the United States. That in turn will affect how the world sees the United States.

The Perfect Christmas Gift, December 2003
Had Bishop John Chane been present when I received his Christmas card, I would have hugged and kissed him with joy in spite of the mixed signals the gesture may have sent to some members of his denomination.

Campuses hold future to American Islam, Religion News Service, December 17, 2003
Prof. Akbar Ahmed's visits to different campuses reveal a young Muslim generation actively engaged in open, free-ranging talk with non-Muslims, a dialogue that needs the confidence that comes from hard work and intelligent use of their fine educational institutions.

Tamara Sonn, Historian of Islamic thought, Religion News Service, Decemebr 03, 2003
At a time when polls confirm the vast majority of Americans have little idea of Islam and many fear it because of a lack of understanding, the work of an established and authoritative historian ofIslam becomes all the more relevant.

A Glow on Capitol Hill, Religion News Service, June 04, 2003
A certain glow shines around caring and compassionate men and women. I saw a lot of glow April 4 in one of the grand Senate dining rooms where I had been invited as the luncheon speaker to address a distinguished group of guests invited by the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation.

Between Hope & Despair: Living as a muslim in The United States, Religion News Service,
May 21, 2003

If you appear in the U.S. media with a Muslim name like mine, you live suspended between hope and despair, compassion and anger, acceptance and prejudice, inclusion and exclusion. You are blindly associated with the actions of Muslims all over the world, and your religion itself appears to be on trial.

Islam on a Collision Course, March 2003
"There will be a time when your religion will be like a hot piece of coal in the palm of your hand; you will not be able to hold it". The Prophet of Islam was gazing into the future while he talked to his followers early in the 7th century in Arabia. "Would this mean there would be very few Muslims?" someone asked. "No," replied the Prophet, "They will be large in numbers, more than ever before, but powerless like the foam on the ocean waves." After September 11, 2001, the prediction of the Prophet seems to be coming true. Islam has become as hot as a piece of coal for its followers.

Interfaith Passover Seder, Religion News Service, 2003
M. Bruce Lustig, the senior Rabbi of the Washington Hebrew Congregation, wrote to me inviting me and my family and a few Muslim friends to share the special interfaith Passover Seder with members and clergy of the congregation to be celebrated on April 23rd. This, he pointed out, was a “unique interfaith Freedom Seder”. The celebration “will emphasize the universal struggle for freedom and human dignity”.

Islam & Freedom of Thought, The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 2001
(With Lawrence Rosen) As America and its allies have set about building coalitions that include many of the Islamic nations, it is easy to lose sight of the issue of intellectual freedom within the Muslim world. Our concern is that scholars in Muslim countries will be overlooked in the rush to forge expedient alliances.

Muslims in the west,, 1993
For the last thousand years the West treated Islam as the 'other,' as 'over there.' In the main this is still true: the bulk of the Muslim population lives in Africa and Asia. But today this simple world-view has been complicated by the presence in the West of over ten million Muslims.


Islam Under Siege, 2003
In this groundbreaking book, Akbar Ahmed, one of the world’s leading authorities on Islam, who has worked in the Muslim world but lives in the West, explains what is going wrong in his society by referring to Islamic history and beliefs. Employing theological and anthropological perspectives, he attempts to answer the questions that people in the West are asking about Islam: "Why do they hate us?" "Is Islam compatible with democracy?" "Does Islam subjugate women?" "Does the Quran preach violence?" These important questions are of relevance to Muslims and to non-Muslims alike. Islam Under Siege points out the need for, and provides the route to, the dialogue of civilizations.

Past oppressing the present
The book is the dramatic story of a revolt some 30 years ago by a religious figure, the Mullah of Waziristan. As modernization and economic development slowly comes in Waziristan, it conflicts with the social and tribal structure as well as religious principles and observances. "Contrary to conventional wisdom, society does not always proceed on a lineal path forward when it is modernizing" and falls back on traditional values in search of stability. The conflict thus reinforces religion.

Discovering Islam, 2002

Other Contributions

Personal dialogues between Jews and Muslims, American Weekly, USA, February 10, 2004
Daniel Pearl’s father, Judea Pearl, might be forgiven if he were to deplore Islam. Instead, he put himself on a Philadelphia stage for a one-on-one public dialogue on religion with AU professor Akbar Ahmed, “probably the world’s best-known scholar on contemporary Islam.”

Muslim & Jew: Can we talk?,, USA, November 09, 2003
Forum with two articles by Judea Pearl, a Jewish computer scientist born in Israel, and Akbar Ahmed, a Muslim Islamic scholar born in Pakistan, who were brought together in Pittsburgh by hope born of tragedy.

Reporting on Islam: Journalists get a lesson, The American Observer, USA, Apr 17, 2002
The Islamic community faces a crisis of leadership, said a panel of experts last week at the American Society of Newspaper Editors annual convention in Washington. In his remarks, panelist Akbar Ahmed, American University's Chair of Islamic Studies, asked, "Who speaks for Islam?"


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