Akbar S. Ahmed

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Akbar Salahuddin Ahmed, Sitara-i-Imtiaz, or Akbar Ahmed, is an author, poet, and playwright, who currently serves as the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University in Washington, D.C.. He was also the First Chair of Middle East and Islamic Studies at the US Naval Academy, Annapolis,[1] and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.[2] He has served as a Visiting Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and has taught at Princeton and Harvard. He was the Iqbal Fellow (Chair of Pakistan Studies) and Fellow of Selywn College at the University of Cambridge. In the fall of 2012, Ahmed was the Diane Middlebrook and Carl Djerassi Visiting Professor of the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Cambridge.

He joined the Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP), the elite cadre of the Central Superior Services of Pakistan, in 1966, and held senior level posts in Pakistan and Bangladesh—including Commissioner, Quetta, and Political Agent, South Waziristan Agency. He also served as the High Commissioner of Pakistan to the U.K..[3]

Ahmed has been a leader in interfaith dialogue among both Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic faiths. Along with Judea Pearl, father of the journalist Daniel Pearl, he has held public dialogues in an effort to dispel hatred and ignorance. For their efforts, Ahmed and Pearl were awarded the Purpose Prize in 2007. Ambassador Ahmed was also the recipient of the first Gandhi Center Fellowship of Peace Award in 2004.[4]

Ahmed's latest project, Journey Into Europe, is a study of Islam in Europe and the place of Islam in European history and civilization. He has just launched the documentary Journey Into Europe (2015) and is writing a corresponding book, Journey Into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity (Brookings Institute Press, forthcoming). The fieldwork for Journey Into Europe was completed in January 2015 after Ahmed and his research team visited nine European countries, including the U.K., Spain, Germany, Denmark, and Bosnia. This project completes his award-winning quartet of studies on relations between the West and the Muslim World, published by Brookings Institute Press.

Ahmed is frequently named in the annual book, The Muslim 500: The World's 500 Most Influential Muslims,[5] and was named a 2015 Global Thought Leader by The World Post and the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute.[6]


Ahmed received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where he is listed as a "notable alumnus". He has his MA and Diploma in Education from the University of Cambridge, and Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) from the University of Birmingham. Ahmed received an Honorary Doctor of Law from the University of Liverpool in 2007 and an Honorary Doctorate from Forman Christian College of Lahore, Pakistan in 2013.

Major projects[edit]

During the 1990s while at the University of Cambridge, Akbar Ahmed completed the Jinnah Quartet to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the state of Pakistan by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The Jinnah Quartet includes the academic study Jinnah, Pakistan, and Islamic Identity: The Search for Saladin; the feature film Jinnah starring Sir Christopher Lee; the documentary film Mr. Jinnah: The Making of Pakistan; and the graphic novel The Quaid: Jinnah and the Story of Pakistan.

After 9/11 and since coming to American University, Ahmed has undertaken studies with Brookings Institution Press, examining relations between the West and the world of Islam after the attacks. These include: Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization; Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam (the 2011 American Book Award winner and subject of the documentary film Journey into America); and The Thistle and the Drone: How America's War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam (Winner of the German Peace Prize and short-listed for the Coca-Cola Award for Best Non-Fiction Book at the 2014 Karachi Literature Festival). The quartet will be rounded out with the forthcoming book, Journey Into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity (the subject of the documentary film, Journey Into Europe).[citation needed]


  • Journey Into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity (Brookings Press, forthcoming).
  • The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam (Brookings Press, 2013).
  • Suspended Somewhere Between: A Book of Verse (Busboys and Poets, 2011).
  • Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam (Brookings Press, 2010).
  • Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization (Brookings Press, 2007).
  • After Terror: Promoting Dialogue Among Civilizations Co-Edited by Brian Forst, (Polity Press, 2005).
  • Islam Under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World (Polity Press, 2003).
  • The Future of Anthropology: Its Relevance to the Contemporary World; Co-Edited by Chris Shore, (Athlone Press, 1999).
  • Islam Today: A Short Introduction to The Muslim World; (I.B. Tauris, 1998).
  • Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity: The Search for Saladin; (Routledge, 1997).
  • Islam, Globalization and Postmodernity with Hastings Donnan; (Routledge, 1994).
  • Living Islam: From Samarkand and Stornoway (BBC Books, 1993).
  • Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and Society; (Routledge, 1988).
  • Postmodernism and Islam: Predicament and Promise; (Routledge, 1992).
  • Resistance and Control in Pakistan; (Routledge, 1991).
  • Pakistan: The Social Sciences' Perspective; (Oxford University Press, 1990).
  • Toward Islamic Anthropology: Definition, Dogma, and Directions; (Vanguard Books, 1987).
  • Religion and Politics in Muslim Society: Order and Conflict in Pakistan; (Royal Book Co., 1987).
  • Pukhtun Economy and Society: Traditional structure and economic development in a tribal society (Routledge, 1980).
  • Pieces of Green, the Sociology of Change in Pakistan, 1964–1974; (Royal Book Co., 1977).
  • Social and Economic change in the Tribal Areas, 1972–1976; (Oxford University Press, 1977).
  • Millennium and Charisma Among Pathans: A Critical Essay in Social Anthropology (Routledge, 1976)
  • Mataloona: Pukhto Proverbs, (Oxford University Press, 1975).
  • Mansehra: A Journey, (Ferozsons, 1973).


  • Noor, Saqi Books, London, 2009. Part of the summer Festival at Theater J in Washington, DC in 2007
  • The Trial of Dara Shikoh, The Buxton Initiative, Washington DC, Pakistan Link, 2008 and Saqi Books, London, 2009
  • Waziristan to Washington: A Muslim at the Crossroads, a “memoire monologue” performed by Akbar Ahmed at the Jewish Community Center of Washington, DC, American University's Katzen Arts Center, and Theater J of Washington, DC.[7][8]


  • Produced, wrote, narrated, and directed Journey into Europe, 2015.
    • Premiere as feature film at Islamic Society of North America Film Festival, Rosemont, IL, September 5, 2015[10]
    • D.C. premiere at St. Alban's Parish in conjunction with the National Cathedral, October 15, 2015.
  • Interviewed for Unmanned: America's Drone Wars, directed by Robert Greenwald and produced by Brave New Films, 2013.
  • Produced, wrote, and narrated Journey into America, 2010.
  • Consulted and was interviewed for Rumi Returning, a major television film on the mystic poet, 2007.
  • "Encountering Islam", Audio CD series, NowYouKnow Media, Washington DC, 2007.
  • Presented The Glories of Islamic Art, a three-part television series for Channel 5, U.K., broadcast in 2006.
  • Presented and narrated Living Islam, a six-part BBC television series, in 1993.
  • Collaborated with award-winning composer Kenneth Lampl on music for "Journey to America", 2010 and "Journey to Europe", 2015.[11]

Distinctions and distinguished lectures[9][edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ / U.S. Naval Academy
  2. ^ / Brookings Institution
  3. ^ / website link.
  4. ^ http://www.gandhimemorialcenter.org/fellowship_of_peace
  5. ^ "Ahmed, Dr Akbar | The Muslim 500". themuslim500.com. Retrieved 2015-12-10. 
  6. ^ a b "Global - Thought Leaders". Thought Leaders. Retrieved 2015-12-09. 
  7. ^ / Waziristan to Washington: A Muslim at the Crossroads, by Elise Alexander
  8. ^ Waziristan to Washington
  9. ^ a b "Profile Akbar Ahmed | Faculty | School of International Service | American University, Washington DC". www.american.edu. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  10. ^ "Film Festival". ISNA. Retrieved 2015-10-21. 
  11. ^ "Internet Movie Database". IMDB. Retrieved 5 April 2016. 

External links[edit]