The ink of the scholar – Aijaz Zaka Syed – Arab News

Dr. Akbar Ahmed is a man of many parts. Civil servant, diplomat, author, filmmaker (creator of biopic Jinnah) and teacher, he has also served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the UK. Currently Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and Professor of International Relations at the American University in Washington, it is his extraordinary insight into Muslim societies around the world and contribution as a scholar of Islam that truly sets him apart from his tribe.
Distinguished author of such groundbreaking books as Postmodernism and Islam, Predicament and Promise (1992), Living Islam, From Samarkand to Stornoway (1993), Discovering Islam, Making Sense of Muslim History and Society (2002), and Islam Today: A Short Introduction to the Muslim World (2002), he is perhaps the best living and walking encyclopedia of Islam around.
Given the unprecedented challenge of extremism and terrorism facing Islam and contemporary Muslim societies, it’s only natural that Prof Ahmed has constantly written and talked about it, analyzing often for the benefit of Western audiences the underlying causes and historical drivers of violence and radicalization, as he most recently did in The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam (2013).

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Islam and the West: Promoting the Dialogue of Civilizations—Ambassador Akbar Ahmed – National Presbyterian Church

Islam and the West: Promoting the Dialogue of Civilizations–Ambassador Akbar Ahmed from The National Presbyterian Church on Vimeo.

Ambassador Ahmed welcomes former Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to American University


Ambassador Ahmed (left) presents Former Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (right) with an autographed copy of his book, Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam in Ambassador Ahmed’s office prior to an intimate luncheon at American University.

On Wednesday, August 3rd, Ambassador Ahmed was honored to host distinguished guests Former Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Ambassador Nasir Khan, Senator Abdullah Riar, and Mr. Zain H. Qureshi at American University for an intimate luncheon. The luncheon was the Pakistani delegation’s final stop on their visit to Washington. The delegation was received by Ambassador Ahmed, Mr. Arsallah Khan Hoti, a senior member of the Privatisation Commission of Pakistan, and Special Envoy Arsalan Suleman, the acting U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, and Patrick Burnett, assistant to Ambassador Ahmed.


Once settled, the delegation was welcomed to the University by Dean James Goldgeier, Dean of the School of International Service, Dr. Louis Goodman, Dean emeritus of the School of International Service, and Ambassador Anthony Quainton, Distinguished Diplomat-in-Residence in the School of International Service and former U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, Peru, Kuwait, and the Central African Empire. Ambassador Ahmed also presented His Excellency The Foreign Minister with an autographed copy of his book, Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam (2010), as well as a copy of his newest film, Journey into Europe (2015).
After receiving a warm welcome to the University and learning more about the activities of the School of International Service and the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, the delegation was then treated to lunch in the Terrace Dining Room (TDR) at American University, organized by Elisa Frost, Research Assistant to Ambassador Ahmed, allowing the honorable gentlemen to experience the culinary delights of American campus life while further discussing the work of both Ambassador Ahmed and His Excellency The Foreign Minister.


Ambassador Akbar Ahmed (center), Former Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (center-right), and Pakistani Ambassador Nasir Khan (center-left) gather with their delegations in the Terrace Dining Room at American University after an intimate luncheon to welcome His Excellency The Foreign Minister and his delegation to American University. The luncheon was the delegation’s final stop on their visit to Washington.

Humza Yousaf: a Pakistani Braveheart in Scotland – Amb. Akbar Ahmed, Express Tribune

The recent referendum in the UK to leave the European Union has brought widespread xenophobia to light throughout the country. Following the June 23 vote, one Muslim schoolgirl in England was told “Get out, we voted Leave”, while a Muslim native of Wales who campaigned for Remain received a Tweet saying, “Great news…you can pack your bags, you’re (sic) going home… bye then!” Meanwhile, in the week leading up to the vote, Labour MP Jo Cox, known for her advocacy for Syrian refugees, was fatally shot and stabbed by a man shouting “Britain First”.

These examples of hatred throughout the UK in the wake of the Brexit vote are truly shocking. Yet, they are not reason to lose hope in the plight of Muslims in the West. Some of the UK’s finest young leaders today are from the British Pakistani community, and are as British as any Anglican Englishman from Essex.

One of these top young Pakistani leaders is Scottish native Humza Yousaf, a member of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Minister for Transport and the Islands. A mere 31 years of age, Yousaf has already served for four years as Scotland’s first minister for Europe and International Development. During his rapid ascent to power he has faced racist attacks.

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Amb. Ahmed Interviewed on Voice of America’s TV2 Africa on Journey into Europe

Mohammed Elshinnawi interviewed Professor Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic Studies at American University, on his Documentary “The Journey Into Europe.” The film is about the influx of Muslims to Europe, the challenges they face and the perceptions European have of these migrants.

Team member Elisa Frost featured as St. Helens, OR success story

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Team member Elisa Frost (center left) gathers with Amb. Ahmed and the Journey into Europe team in the lobby of the State Department prior to a screening of the film on February 24. Frost was recently named a “St. Helens [Oregon] success [story]” by the St. Helens Chronicle.

Elisa Frost, a member of the Journey into Europe research team, was featured in the St. Helens (OR) Chronicle as a “St. Helens Success [Story]” for her incredible work  as an undergraduate student and masters candidate at American University and on the Journey into Europe team.  Warm congrats, Elisa! We are all very proud!

To read the interview with Elisa, click here.

Bradford comes of age – Amb. Akbar Ahmed, The Friday Times

Akbar Ahmed on the many faces of Bradford – including the ones that are conveniently ignored.


Amb. Akbar Ahmed with Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and her husband Iftikhar Azam at the Zoya Pakistani restaurant in Bradford. 


For several decades, the image of the Muslim community of Bradford, and the region around it, has been depicted in the media as that of angry-looking, white-bearded Pakistani men dressed in shalwar-kameez demanding the death of Salman Rushdie. Today, however, it is that of educated, intelligent smart women – also with a Pakistani background.

Bradford in the popular British imagination has long meant Islamic fanaticism and fundamentalism, urban crime, drugs and poverty. It has also more recently been associated with such phenomena as “grooming”, terrorism and the shariah-dominated “no-go zones” – defined by Islamophobes as places where non-Muslims ‘fear to tread’. Feeding in to these perceptions was the news last year that three Bradford sisters and their nine children had traveled to Syria to join ISIS together. Terrorism experts tend to look at dense communities like Bradford as hubs of terrorism producing an endless stream of recruits. It is for this reason that the government is constantly placed in the awkward position of implementing extreme measures only to come up with embarrassing results, such as the case of the young schoolboy who was arrested and taken for interrogation when he wrote in a school assignment that he lived in a “terrorist” house when he meant “terraced.” Bradford has thus been labeled a breeding ground for terrorist activity, which has made the city a particular target of the British government’s “Prevent” security strategy, a program that is increasingly being seen as coercive and unfair by the Muslim community. British Muslims use terms like “thought police” and “big brother” when discussing Prevent.

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SOAS Centre for the Study of Pakistan (CSP) Annual Lecture 2016: Short video reflecting upon Amb. Ahmed’s address with Lord Bhikhu Parekh

Dr. Todd Landman, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Univ. of Nottingham, discusses Amb. Ahmed visit to Nottingham in context of Orlando tragedy.

“Last month The University of Nottingham welcomed Professor Akbar Ahmed, former High Commissioner of Pakistan to the UK and now the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington DC as part of a three-day event to build trust between the Muslim and non Muslim communities of Nottingham. His speech was frank about the non-Muslim community vilifying all Muslims and grouping them together as a homogenous radical and terrorist force. He was equally frank in urging the Muslim leaders present at his lecture and those whom they represent to be stronger in their condemnation of all violence being committed in Islam’s name.”

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Journey into Europe has mainland Europe premiere in Berlin

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Ambassador Ahmed and Kristiane Backer speak at the European continental premiere of Journey into Europe in Berlin. 

On June 1, the European continental premiere of the Journey into Europe film was held in front of a full house audience at the Hackesche Höfe Kino cinema in Berlin. Ambassador Ahmed introduced the film at the screening, which was co-sponsored by Stiftung Mercator, the principal backer of the project, the British Council, another important backer of the project, and the Aspen Institute Germany. The event was hosted by the author and activist Kristiane Backer, who also moderated a Q and A with Ambassador Ahmed following the screening.
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Ambassador Ahmed with Michael Schwarz, the Executive Director of Stiftung Mercator. 

The Executive Director of Stiftung Mercator, Michael Schwarz, addressed the audience at the screening and in his remarks spoke very warmly about the project and congratulated the team. Rachel Launay, the Germany director at the British Council, also spoke. There were many distinguished guests present, including Anna Kuchenbecker, the Deputy Director of the Aspen Institute Germany, Dr. Klaus Mueller, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Representative for Europe, Philomena Poetis, representing the Pakistan Honorary Counsel General in Munich, and Brigadier General Asif Adnan Jah Shad, the Defence Attache at the Pakistan embassy in Berlin. All spoke enthusiastically about the film and wanted it shown and circulated widely in venues like schools and centers.

The day following the screening, H.E. Jauhar Saleem, the Pakistani ambassador to Germany, hosted a grand dinner for Ambassador Ahmed at a top Turkish restaurant in the city and invited many distinguished guests. Ambassador Ahmed and the team were also able to do some fieldwork for the upcoming Journey into Europe book, visiting one of Berlin’s most famous landmarks, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on the Kurfürstendamm.

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The iconic Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin.