Muslim identity in Europe – Taimur Shamil, The News

Former ambassador Akbar Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University Washington, D.C. He is former Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland. Professor Ahmed is named “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam” by the BBC. He is the author of several books on Islam and Muslim identity and has written extensively on Muslim identity in the West.

In his recent book, Journey into Europe, Akbar explores Islam’s journey into Europe while elaborating the roots of two different identities; Islam and Europe. He tries to find out if these two distinct identities, Muslims and European, are compatible?

In the words of Noam Chomsky, who praises Akbar’s latest book, “His latest study, based on direct research with a group of young scholars, explores the complex interfaith reality of Europe, both in history and today, from an Eastern perspective, reversing the familiar paradigm. It is sure to be yet another influential contribution, one greatly needed in a world riven by conflict and misunderstanding.”

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Journey into Europe featured in the New York Times “11 New Books We Recommend This Week”

JOURNEY INTO EUROPE: Islam, Immigration, and Identity,by Akbar Ahmed. (Brookings, $34.99.) Ahmed, a renowned Pakistani scholar and diplomat, gathered a team of researchers to interview Muslims across Europe about their situation. “This, I felt, was Europe’s ticking time bomb,” he says. In her review, Atossa Araxia Abrahamian writes: “The fundamental message of ‘Journey Into Europe’ is that throughout history, Islamic and European civilizations have often been not just compatible, but complementary. It’s crucial to acknowledge their shared past to reject today’s resurgent tribalism.”

To see the entire list, click here.


Amb. Ahmed to deliver lecture at Harvard University on Friday, April 13 at 3pm


“Can Islamic and European Civilizations Coexist?” – Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, The New York Times

Islam, Immigration, and Identity
By Akbar Ahmed
Illustrated. 573 pp. Brookings Institution Press. $34.99.

In 2013, Akbar Ahmed, a celebrated scholar of Islam and Pakistan’s former high commissioner to Britain and Ireland, was invited to speak at a mosque in Athens. What he saw there took him aback. The facility was less a house of God than an underground parking lot “of a particularly sinister aspect,” with its low ceilings, foul odor and atmosphere of bleak desolation. In all of Athens, he learned, there wasn’t a single purpose-built mosque serving the Muslim community. If these were the conditions under which hundreds of thousands of people worshiped, how then did they live and work?

“These men had nothing to lose, and I could imagine the most desperate among them prepared to lash out in an unpredictable and even murderous manner,” Ahmed writes in “Journey Into Europe,” the latest installment of his series on Muslims around the world. “This, I felt, was Europe’s ticking time bomb.” European politics only exacerbated the tension. Five years ago, voters were already drifting toward far-right politicians who openly displayed their distaste for Muslims. Today, their views are practically mainstream. “Journey Into Europe” attempts to elucidate why relations between secular European countries and their Muslim populations have grown so fraught, and what can be done to improve them.

The bulk of Ahmed’s research comes from a listening tour he embarked on with a team of researchers between 2013 and 2017. They interviewed imams, community leaders, activists and ordinary people across the continent about the challenges European Muslims face today. Their findings are predictably grim. Across the board, interviewees reported feeling marginalized, stereotyped and prevented from professional advancement because of their background. Despite their multitude of experiences, they ended up lumped into the crude categories that conflate terrorists, Muslims and refugees; Arabs, Persians and Africans; recent immigrants with no facility in the local language and second-generation doctoral students fluent at the highest level. “We are in a cosmic depression,” a British psychologist laments.

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Amb. Ahmed to deliver lecture in Newton, MA on Apr. 11 hosted by AJC New England


A Muslim Scholar Reflects on the Challenges

and Opportunities in Muslim – Jewish Relations


Amb. Akbar Ahmed
Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University, Wash., D.C.

Wednesday April 11, 2018
6:30 p.m. Doors Open
7:00 p.m. Program Begins

Temple Emanuel
385 Ward St., Newton, MA 02459

Amb. Ahmed is a former Pakistani diplomat and widely published author who now serves as the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, D.C. He is on the Board of Advisors for the Institute for Global Engagement, and has served as a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution with the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World. He was also the First Distinguished Chair of Middle East and Islamic Studies at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.  Amb. Ahmed has been called “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam” by the BBC.  After journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan, Amb. Ahmed collaborated with his father, Judea Pearl, on a series of dialogues  exploring Muslim-Jewish relations.

Amb. Ahmed will be available to sign his new book, Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity, after the event. A limited quantity of books will be available for purchase by cash or check.

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Ambassador Ahmed to launch Journey into Europe Monday, March 26 at 12:30p at the Berkley Center at Georgetown University

Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity

A Conversation with Akbar Ahmed

Since 9/11, repeated episodes of terrorism, together with the refugee crisis, have dramatically increased the divide between the Muslim communities and the majority non-Muslim populations in Europe. Meanwhile, the parallel rise of right-wing, nationalist political parties throughout the continent—often espousing anti-Muslim rhetoric—has shaken the foundation of the European Union to its very core.

Akbar Ahmed and his team of researchers traveled across Europe for three years and interviewed Muslims and non-Muslims from all walks of life to investigate questions of Islam, immigration, and identity. Their findings reveal a complex story of the place of Islam in European history and civilization and expose both the misunderstandings and the opportunities for European countries and populations to improve their relationship with minority Muslim communities. Along with an analysis of what has gone wrong and why, Ahmed will offer recommendations for promoting integration and pluralism in the twenty-first century.

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Amb. Ahmed to launch Journey into Europe at the Woolf Institute in Cambridge May 17 as part of the Institute’s first ever iftar

The Woolf Institute is delighted to host the launch of Professor Akbar Ahmed’s book, Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration and Identity on Thursday 17 May 2018 between 5.00pm and 7.00pm.

Ambassador Akbar Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, D.C. and the former Pakistani high commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland. He has been called “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam” by the BBC. Ahmed has authored more than a dozen award-winning books and has produced a number of noteworthy films. His most recent book, Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity (2018), completes an unprecedented quartet of studies examining relations between the West and the Muslim world. He is also a published poet and playwright.

Since the Cambridge launch of Journey into Europe takes place over Ramadan, the Woolf Institute will host the launch as part of an Iftar to ensure that Muslim attendees can also eat after evening falls. The Iftar will start around 8.30-8.45 and the Institute’s ‘Quiet Space’ will be made available for prayers.

According to Dr Ed Kessler, “The 17th May event with Prof Akbar Ahmed will be an auspicious occasion as it combines the launch of an important book on Muslims in Europe and is the Woolf Institute’s first Iftar. We hope it will prove to be an attractive occasion for Muslims and non-Muslims alike”.

The Journey into Europe film can be viewed here.

The pre-release flier for the book is available to download here.

For any further information, please contact:

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Ambassador Akbar Ahmed presents Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity at the 92nd Street Y in New York

On Thursday, March 15, Ambassador Akbar Ahmed presented his new book, Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity, at the 92nd Street Y in New York at part of their Daytime Talks series. The event was attended by several prominent community leaders in New York, including E. Nisar Khan and Nasima Khan, Founding Members of the Pashtun Cultural Institute, Rabbi David Fox Sandmel, the Anti-Defamation League’s Director of Interreligious Engagement, Aroon Shivdasani, the Executive & Artistic Director of the Indo-American Arts Council, author Sabeeha Rehman, philanthropist Bonnie Porta, and a number of American University alumni.


During the lecture, Ambassador Ahmed discussed strategies for strengthening interfaith relations in Europe and throughout the world. He referred back to periods of European history where Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived, worked, and created together, as exemplified in the Golden Age of Andalusia, Sicily, and Bosnia, and discussed how these periods of history can provide us a model for overcoming religious differences and fostering a more pluralist society in the 21st century. Ambassador Ahmed also told of a three-step path for building strong interfaith bridges – first, engage in dialogue, then seek out understanding and knowledge of one another, then reach out in friendship. The lecture was followed by a lively question and answer session and a book signing.


Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity, published by Brookings Institution Press, explores Islam in Europe and the place of Islam in European history and civilization on the basis of fieldwork spanning the length and breadth of the continent. The fourth in a quartet of studies examining relations between the West and the Muslim world, the book is based in years of fieldwork with a dedicated team of young scholars. Addressing such hot-button issues as immigration, refugees, terrorism, and extremism, the book promises to serve as a key guide to the challenges facing Europe today. The book has received a number of strong reviews since its publication. Aijaz Zaka Syed calls it “a must-read book” in the Saudi Gazette. Professor Todd Green writes in Reading Religion, a publication of the American Academy of Religion, that Journey into Europe is “a masterpiece” and “a magisterial examination of Islam’s place in Europe’s historical, cultural, and political landscape.” Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, states, “It is hard to exaggerate the importance of this work.” Dr. Haris Silajdzic, the former President and Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, writes, “Ambassador Akbar Ahmed’s latest project on Muslims in Europe is yet another illustration of his vision by offering us understanding of, commitment to, and hope and compassion for humanity.”


SIS Bookshelf: Journey into Europe, by Akbar Ahmed

Journey into Europe to be launched at American University on Thursday, March 22 at 5pm

Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity by Amb. Akbar Ahmed

Event Information


Please join Ambassador Akbar Ahmed as he discusses his new book, Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity. The fourth in a quartet of studies examining relations between the West and the Muslim world, Journey into Europe explores Islam in Europe and the place of Islam in European history and civilization on the basis of fieldwork spanning the length and breadth of the continent.


In reflecting on the book, Professor Lawrence Rosen of Princeton University writes, “Ahmed’s splendid blend of scholarship and reportage is unmatched in the literature.” Professor Todd Green of Luther College, writing for the American Academy of Religion, calls the book “a masterpiece … magisterial … a tremendous and timely contribution.”

Moderated by: Professor Tamara Sonn, Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor of the History of Islam, Georgetown University

Discussant: Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, Senior Rabbi, Washington Hebrew Congregation


Abramson Family Founders Room, School of International Service

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