Monthly Archives: June 2014

Professor Akbar Ahmed visits Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre in Dublin, Ireland


On the 31st May 2014, Prof Akbar Ahmed and his team of Researchers visited the Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre Ireland to interview the Imam and students of the Islamic School for the research project :“Journey into Europe; Islam, Immigration& Empire”.

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 PresidentGeorge W. Bush on Islam. He is now Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and professor of International Relations at American University in Washington, DC.

Professor 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. He is currently the chair of Islamic Studies in American University of Washington.

The Imam & Ameer of the Islamic Centre (Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Umar Al-Qadri), Brother Muibideen, Brother Arif, Ustaza Shahida, Ustaza Aisha and students of Al-Mustafa Islamic School welcomed Prof. Akbar S. Ahmed and his team to the Islamic Centre.

Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Umar Al-Qadri thanked the esteemed Professor for his visit and the offer of interviews for the purpose of the significant research. Shaykh said…

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Professor Akbar Ahmed sits down with Dr. William Crawley of BBC Northern Ireland

Belfast lecture three

BBC Northern Ireland, June 1, 2014 – “The rosy glow of world-wide attention received from millions of people watching the Giro d’Italia here has faded to accusations of an ugly stain of religious intolerance and racial bigotry. The world’s foremost expert on global contemporary Islam visited Belfast this week amongst the furore to deliver a major lecture at Queen’s university. Professor Akbar Ahmed talks to @williamcrawley about the myths and misunderstandings that follow Muslims living in the Western world and about the controversy that has engulfed the First Minister.”

To listen, click here.

Professor Akbar Ahmed delivers the 2nd Annual Harri Holkeri Lecture at Queen’s University Belfast

On May 29, 2014, Professor Akbar Ahmed delivered the 2nd Annual Harri Holkeri Lecture, hosted by the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice and the Institute’s director, Professor Hastings Donnan, at Queen’s University Belfast.

Professor Akbar Ahmed Lecture – with introduction from Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor James McElnay

Q & A Session following the Lecture with Professor Akbar Ahmed and Dr. William Crawley, Broadcaster for BBC Northern Ireland

Professor Akbar Ahmed appears on BBC Northern Ireland’s “Good Morning Ulster” to discuss recent controversy over a Pastor’s comments on Islam


BBC Northern Ireland’s “Good Morning Ulster”, May 29, 2014 – “Ambassador Akbar Ahmed is a former Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK and has been described as the world’s leading authority on Islam. He’s here as part of his Journey into Europe tour, in which he is studying the complex relationship between the West and the Muslim world. He’s in Belfast to give a lecture at Queen’s University entitled ‌‌’Islam, Peace-building and Conflict Transformation. We aksed what he thought of Pastor McConnell and Peter Robinson’s comments.”


Professor Akbar Ahmed’s ‘Journey into Europe’ Tour Hosted in UPF-UK HQ

By Robin Marsh

Renowned scholar Professor Akbar Ahmed is on a tour around Europe on a research project to write a book on, ‘Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Empire’. Last night UPF-UK had the honour to host one of the programmes on the tour. The tour is being supported by ‘Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue’ represented by Prof. Peter Morey and others last night. One of Prof. Ahmed’s team, Asmaa Soliman, who is also a core team member of YouthUPF, was the MC and one of the main organisers of the event.

Professor Ahmed explains, ‘The lessons of a society in which different religions and cultures can live together, create art together, and worship freely while respecting each other, is a desperately needed model to guide us today.’ He highlights several eras in European history, like Cordoba’s ‘La Convivencia’ when this occurred. Please see below for the written explanation of the Tour.

I had the opportunity to introduce Universal Peace Federation and mention Father Moon’s response to 9/11 was to sponsor three intra-Muslim dialogue conferences in Jakarta, London and Washington DC at which the then President of Indonesia (Gus Dur) Wahid and his wife participated along with many other dignitaries from across the Islamic world.

Last night was an opportunity for Prof Akbar’s team to feature the artists in his documentary and to interview them. They think that the sphere of arts and culture is relevant and want to shed light on Muslims’ involvement in creative arts that is unfortunately often ignored in mainstream media. This was organised in collaborationEntertainment with ‘Rumi’s Cave’ including comedy, poetry, song, art and rap.

Professor Ahmed introduced Commander Mak Chishty of the Metropolitan Police explaining that he is the highest ranking Police Office from a Pakistan community background. He is currently the Commander for West London with pan London responsibility for Anti-Social Behaviour, Drugs & Alcohol, Hate Crime and Children & Young People. He is the national lead for the sensitive area of honour killings on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers, helping to formulate policy on a national level. Commander Chishty emphasised the need to counter alienation among young people that leads them to fight in Syria or similar conflicts.

To continue reading at the Universal Peace Federation website, click here…

A Tennessean at the House of Lords

By Harrison Akins

Here I was, an American from a small mountain town in east Tennessee, sitting at the heart of the most British of institutions—the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster. Chatting amicably with our host, the distinguished scholar Lord Bhiku Parekh, my gaze kept drifting upwards to the towering portraiture of the past kings and queens of Britain and the painted iconic vistas of Lord Nelson’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar and the British victory over Napoleon at Waterloo that lined the gilded walls. The vast room weighed heavy with the grandeur of royalty and empire. I felt quite small sitting quietly in the shadow of history’s great figures and moments.

I was in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords a few days ago accompanying my professor Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, DC and the former Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK, as we waited to participate in the launch of his latest project, Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Empire which will take our research team across the continent of Europe studying Islam, the diverse Muslim communities, and European identity. We will be investigating the contemporary challenges of the Muslim community in the context of history, looking at the controversial issues associated with Islam—terrorism, sharia, the building of mosques, female dress, and immigration. The Journey into Europe project is the fourth book in a series of studies by Ambassador Ahmed examining the relationship between the West and the World of Islam after 9/11: Journey into Islam (2007), Journey into America (2010), and The Thistle and the Drone (2013).

On the evening of the launch, our team gathered under the raised sword of Richard the Lionheart astride his stone horse in front of Parliament and, upon entering through the Peers’ Entrance, was greeted with smiles and hugs by Lord Parekh.

The standing room only event, held in a House of Lords Committee room overlooking the Thames River on a sunny English day, was filled with leading lords, diplomats, academics, philanthropists, and religious leaders such as senior representatives from the Pakistani High Commission, Dr. Richard Stone, one of the most important Jewish leaders and pioneers of interfaith dialogue in Britain and a philanthropist, Malise Ruthven, the well known author of books on Islam, the noted nationalism scholar Dr. John Hutchinson of the LSE, Mohsin Akhtar, the largest Asian land lord in the UK, Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari of the Muslim Council of Britain, and Dr. Jafer Qureshi of Muslim Aid, UK.

To continue reading at the American Muslim, click here…

Journey into Europe project launched successfully at House of Lords

On May 14th, the Journey into Europe project which had brought us to London, our first stop, was launched successfully at the House of Lords in a standing room only event with Lord Bhikhu Parekh chairing and hosting the discussion. In attendance were prominent figures including two additional lords, senior representatives from the Pakistani High Commission, Dr. Richard Stone, one of the most important Jewish leaders and pioneers of interfaith dialogue in Britain and a philanthropist, Malise Ruthven, the well known author of books on Islam, the noted scholar John Hutchinson of the LSE, Mohsin Akhtar, owner of the Heydon Grange Golf course who had come down from Cambridge, Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari of the Muslim Council of Britain, and Dr. Jafer Qureshi of Muslim Aid, UK. Additionally, a large contingent from the Bradford Muslim community had especially come down for the event in anticipation of our visit to Bradford. It was also an interfaith gathering, with prominent members of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Hindu faiths represented.

Lord Parekh welcomed Professor Ahmed with great personal warmth and acknowledged Professor Ahmed’s contribution to the social sciences and interfaith dialogue decades ago as a pioneer. Next, the UK partners of the project, Professor Peter Morey and Dr. Amina Yaqin, spoke to welcome Professor Ahmed and the project team and wished them well on their important study. Professor Morey and Dr. Yaqin, both prominent academics, have initiated important studies on Muslims in the UK and have teamed up with Professor Ahmed and his team for this particular project.

Professor Ahmed then outlined the main ideas of the project in the context of his quartet of studies examining relations between the west and Islamic world after 9/11. He identified issues of multiculturalism, immigration, interfaith understanding and dealing with the “other” as some of the areas of his academic interest in this project. Ahmed described the rich Muslim contribution to European history a thousand years ago at a time known as the golden age. It was a time when Muslim scholars were at the cutting edge of science, philosophy, art, and architecture. He said it was a challenge for Muslims to raise themselves to the standards they had once set. Non-Muslims, he argued, needed to understand that though certain groups accused Muslims of being non-Europeans and “barbarians,” these examples proved they were neither. But, he added, because he was embarking on a research project, he could not present any foregone conclusions. His conclusions will be driven by the research findings which his tried and tested team, were already busy compiling.

The audience then had a chance to ask questions and make comments. Several useful suggestions were made to enhance the quality of the research and expressions of support were also tabled. Jew, Christian, and Hindu—everyone wished us bon voyage and Lord Parekh offered to host an event at the same venue on our return at which we would share our findings. The meeting ended with many expressions of goodwill and warmth. As someone said afterwards, rarely have so many people of so many faiths been able to come together with such unanimity and good will. It was a good omen for our long and difficult project. We went away feeling buoyed and encouraged.

Professor Nasser D. Khalili-A Distinguished Jewish Scholar’s Love of Islamic Art

In London we had the privilege to meet with Professor Nasser D. Khalili, founder and Chairman of the Maimonides Interfaith Foundation, an UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador – and one of the world’s foremost collectors of Islamic art who is often referred to as the “cultural ambassador of Islam”.

Through his philanthropic endeavours, Professor Khalili has dedicated his life to promoting interfaith dialogue, understanding and respect. His work has been recognised by leading figures around the world including Pope Francis, several Arab monarchs, and other leading religious authorities. His passion for Islamic art and its preservation is unrivalled and globally acknowledged.

The Maimonides Interfaith Foundation is a dynamic influential international charity promoting understanding and respect between people from the three Abrahamic faiths through the power of creativity, intercultural dialogue and education. At a wider level, it also helps drive discussions around key issues and challenges relating to the role of faith, religion and pluralism in the world today. During our meeting Professor Khalili taught us that peace is possible for Jews, Christians, and Muslims if we come together and use art, culture and education as a means to building bridges across the religious divide.

Journey into Europe and Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue project

The Journey into Europe project by Professor Akbar Ahmed teams up with its UK partner the Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue project led Professor Peter Morey.

American University Professor Akbar Ahmed to Embark on Study of Islam in Europe

Renowned Muslim Anthropologist To Examine Europe Through the Perspective of the Muslim Community

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 11, 2014)—Akbar Ahmed, renowned anthropologist and Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies in American University’s School of International Service, is embarking on a new field project, Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Empire, to study Muslims across Europe and the attitudes and perceptions of Europeans regarding their Muslim neighbors. This ethnographic study will take Ahmed and his research team across the continent of Europe during the Summer of 2014.

Throughout the trip, team members will be posting their thoughts as well as photos and videos from their experience to their blog,

This study is the fourth in an unprecedented quartet of award-winning books published with Brookings Press exploring relations between the West and the world of Islam after 9/11. The first, Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization (2007), examined what Muslims thought of the US and the West through field work across the Muslim world; the second, Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam (2010, Winner of the 2011 American Book Award), examined how Americans perceived Islam and Muslims based in Ahmed and his team visiting 75 cities and 100 mosques across America; the third, The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam (2013, Named a “Book of the Year” in The Times Literary Supplement, Winner of the German Peace Prize, and short-listed for the Coca Cola Award for Best Non-Fiction at the 2014 Karachi Literature Festival) explored the tribal societies on the periphery of nations where the real “war on terror” is taking place.

Journey into Europe will complete Ahmed’s quartet by examining the historical relationship between Europe and the Muslim world and the contemporary challenges posed by increased immigration from the Muslim world, complicated and controversial issues including Sharia, terrorism, and Muslim female dress and the new pressures of security, globalization, and multiculturalism.

Following the trip, the results of in-depth interviews, questionnaires, and observations will be compiled and analyzed for the book, Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Empire and footage will be collected to produce the documentary film Journey into Europe.

Ahmed’s quartet of books has received praise from prominent politicians, journalists, religious leaders, and academics. Speaking of his previous book, The Thistle and the Drone, Professor Marilyn Strathern, the former William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, declared, “I am moved, horrified, and encouraged all at once. Above all, Professor Ahmed makes me proud to be an anthropologist!” The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, wrote of the same study, “This book is of genuinely global importance…Professor Ahmed combines a clear professional anthropological expertise with an equally clear, critical and humane moral perspective. This is an unusual and groundbreaking book, which should be compulsory reading for Western governments.” Commenting on the first book of the quartet, Journey into Islam, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel stated, “Akbar Ahmed’s voice needs to be heard, and his courage strengthened.”

Ahmed is the former Pakistani High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland. He is considered “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam” by the BBC. Previously, he was the Iqbal Fellow (Chair of Pakistan Studies) and Fellow of Selwyn College at the University of Cambridge. He has also taught at Harvard and Princeton Universities. Ahmed is the author of over a dozen award-winning books, including Discovering Islam, which was the basis of a six-part BBC TV Series called Living Islam. He is regularly interviewed on Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, and NBC and has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.