Category Archives: Articles

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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A Message for Our Time – by Elisa Frost

I was raised in the Post-9/11 World. I do not remember a time before buzzwords such as “terrorist” and “insurgency” became everyday terms. I was seven years old when the Twin Towers fell. I was raised in an era of fear.

Despite the climate of our time, I was raised with respect for the entirety of humanity. Even though I was raised in a small town, which was void of diversity, I was taught to respect all others and show great compassion for the less fortunate.

Even as a young child, I was exposed to other cultures through films and trips to museums in the city and taught to learn from and admire our differences. I learned the importance of compassion for the less fortunate through my family’s community service. My family taught me through their example the importance of respect and compassion.

I recognize that my story is vastly different from many others, especially that of others who were raised in small towns. I am truly grateful for my upbringing. It has meant that I have had the unwavering support of my family as I have dedicated my academic career to Islamic studies, the promotion of pluralism, and ensuring the cultural sensitivity of development projects.

While I know my family’s support is a constant, reminders are always warmly welcomed. Last night, an hour after I got off the phone with my grandpa, I received an email from him, which told me that he had been reflecting on Ambassador Ahmed’s work and wrote the poem that is included at the end of this post. I was beyond touched to receive this email and to know the true extent to which my grandpa values the work in which I am involved.

Widespread peaceful pluralism will thrive in future generations if we dedicate ourselves to teaching today’s youth the importance of respect and compassion for all of humanity.

Let Us Be A Beacon
by Robert W Clore, tune Finlandia

Our native land, oh, let us be a beacon
To all the world and stand tall and free,
And offer hope to al the poor and war torn
Across the world who from their homes must flee,
And struggle just for life and freedom,
To live in peace, justice and dignity.

In times of peace and loving harmony
When those of Faith love and respect each other:
Then life is good and all the people prosper.
Then let us pray that when we love another
Love will return to us in ample measure
And in our hearts will there remain.

Then let us be that beacon on the hilltop
A shining light for all the world to see:
That we should love and honor one another
Though while at times we all may disagree.
Let love return to us in equal measure
And in our hearts will ever there remain.

Reflections on the “Journey into Europe” – C. Naseer Ahmad, Diplomatic Courier

The Chinese philosopher Laozi said that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Often for the memorable journeys, the company one keeps matter much.

The unforgettable “Journey into Europe” also began with a single step into the German Embassy in Washington. Instead of Laozi, it was Dr. Stefan Buchwald, Director German Information Center, who welcomed the guests to a special presentation of the documentary by Dr. Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University.

Braving the winter weather and the January snow storm, Washingtonians gathered to hear the famous scholar – who also is an anthropologist and served as a diplomat – speak about Muslim immigrants and Europe. In a little over an hour, Dr. Ahmed took everyone in the auditorium on a remarkable journey – going from country to country and introducing fascinating personalities while illuminating on the challenges they face and the accomplishments achieved.

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Journeying through minds and hearts – Hamzah Rifaat Hussain, Pakistan Today

Akbar Ahmed’s documentary holds clue to peaceful existence of multiple faiths

In times when debates surrounding intolerance rages from India to the United States and heated debates over the status of refugees and Islamophobia in Europe continue unabated, the need for developing a cohesive narrative which promotes coexistence and tolerance is required. When presidential candidates such as Donald Trump mercilessly target immigrants and Muslims and the Middle East as a region continues to be torn apart by proxy warfare, sectarian violence and loss of human life, former Ambassador and Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at the American University, Akbar Ahmed’s message of love and tolerance could prove to be the best way of moulding mindsets and promoting humanism.

Having met Professor Ahmed on my recent tour to the United States as a Visiting Fellow for the Stimson Centre, he briefed me on his latest documentary, ‘A Journey into Europe: The Spectre of Islam, Immigration and Empire’, which explored concepts such as Islam, immigration and identity. The documentary is based upon an ethnographic study and opens the viewers to the attitudes and perceptions about Muslims from their European counterparts as well as harks back into history where the 12th century king of Sicily as well as the role of rulers in the Ottoman Empire in Europe was featured. The in-depth analysis and vivid description of various shades which ranges from the youth being lured into the ideology of ISIS to how Muslim culture has had an impact on the lives of various Sicilians by Ambassador Ahmed provides a voice for peace mongers in turbulent times. While Muslims having a profound impact on the architecture, philosophy, music, culture and traditions of Europe is illuminated upon, the film provides one with the other reality of tensions taking place in places such as Andalusia after events such as the ethnic cleansing of Muslims and Jews by the Spanish Christian regime which makes it a truly illustrative and captivating documentary.

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Taking the Temperature of Trump’s America: The Power of Pluralist Dialogue Perseveres – Patrick Burnett, the Huffington Post

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Ambassador Akbar Ahmed speaks to a full house at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. on the increasingly urgent need for the West and the Muslim World to better understand one another for the sake of peace. The event concluded Amb. Ahmed’s keynote appearances at the William and Mary Global Film Festival. 

Eight months after announcing his campaign, presidential front-runner Donald Trump continues to radically shape American political discourse. He has managed to carry out a first in modern American politics by building a wildly successful presidential campaign around the Islamophobia that once lay latent in parts of America. In light of this new political reality, American Muslims and their allies are increasingly unsure how to cope with such rhetoric in a country built around ideas of liberty and justice for all.

Despite the increase in threats both perceived and real against American Muslims, I witnessed firsthand my Muslim professor, Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, D.C., venture into the field in a Southern town rife with political tensions. But rather than facing protests or threats upon arrival in Williamsburg, Va., Ahmed was received with the sincerest of Southern hospitality. The trip also allowed me the opportunity to take the temperature of America in the time of Trump.

On Feb. 18-19, I had the honor of traveling with Amb. Ahmed to Williamsburg to participate in the College of William and Mary’s Global Film Festival – a university-run festival that highlighted Ahmed’s academic contributions to interfaith bridge building in an unprecedented series of three events. Williamsburg may be a bucolic college town a mere two-and-a-half hours from Washington, but it is no haven from Islamophobic rhetoric.

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The Flat Hat at William and Mary Highlights Amb. Ahmed’s visit to the Global Film Festival

The Flat Hat, the College of William and Mary’s student-run newspaper, conducted several interviews with Amb. Ahmed during his visit to Williamsburg, VA on Feb. 18 and 19 for the Global Film Festival, highlighting his work in producing Journey into Europe and Journey into America. Please see their coverage of Amb. Ahmed’s visit to Williamsburg below:

“A Weekend Of Film And Community” -Hayley Snowden

“A Conversation with Ambassador Akbar Ahmed and Professor Stephen Hanson”

A journey through hearts and minds – Tariq A. Al-Maeena, Saudi Gazette

In a time fraught with suspicions and uncertainties between faiths, some individuals continue to challenge the notion that the twains will never meet. One of them is Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, a world-renowned anthropologist, Islamic scholar and a filmmaker. Dr. Ahmed, who is currently the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at the American University in Washington, DC, has been credited by many with contributing to the forging of better communication protocols and improving relations between the Muslim and the Western worlds. He has been called “a communicator and conduit between East and West”.

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Journey Into Europe: Listening Hard – Pawan Bali, Caravan Daily

To read this review by Pawan Bali in the Caravan Daily, click here.

Countdown to Kristallnacht – Amb. Akbar Ahmed, The World Post

By Akbar Ahmed

It was a cold night in November 1938. Hard men with hatred in their hearts and bats in their hands set about smashing shops belonging to Jews. At the end of the night, some 267 synagogues were destroyed, the windows of 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses were shattered and several Jewish cemeteries were desecrated. At least 91 Jews were killed in the mayhem. Up to 30,000 Jewish men were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. Glass from smashed storefront windows lay strewn across the streets. That night of infamy is notorious in history as Kristallnacht — the “Night of Broken Glass.”

Kristallnacht was a turning point on the path to the concentration camps and the Holocaust, at the end of which 6 million Jews would be killed, creating what has been acknowledged as one of the most murderous episodes in history.

Today, we appear to be heading that way again — this time with Muslims instead of Jews.

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“Ahmed, A. Journey into Europe: the Specter of Islam, Immigration and Empire. (film), 2015. (” – Raymond Scupin PhD, Journal of International and Global Studies, Lindenwood University

Lindenwood University Professor of Anthropology and International Studies Raymond Scupin has published his review of the Journey into Europe film in the November 2015 edition of the Journal of International and Global Studies.  You can read the review here.