Ahmed, Akbar S. 1943- (Akbar Ahmed, Akbar Salahudin Ahmed)
Ahmed, Akbar S. 1943- (Akbar Ahmed, Akbar Salahudin Ahmed)
Born January 15, 1943, in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India; Pakistani citizen; son of M.S. Ahmed (a civil servant) and Nafees Jehan (a homemaker); married Zeenat (a homemaker), March 3, 1970; children: Amineh, Babar, Umar, Nafees. Education: University of Birmingham, B.S.S., 1964; Cambridge University, M.A. and Diploma in Education, 1965; University of London, Ph.D., 1978. Religion: Islam.
Home—Bethesda, MD. Office—School of International Service at American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20016-8071. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer, anthropologist, government official, educator. Civil Service of Pakistan, assistant commissioner in Frontier Punjab (now Punjab), 1966-71, deputy secretary, 1971-76, political agent, 1976-77, 1978-80, additional secretary, 1977. Founder and director general at National Centre for Rural Development, Islamabad, Pakistan; director of University Grants Commission; director of Centre of Social Sciences; Islamic University, visiting professor; University of Washington, visiting professor; member of the Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton University, 1980-81; High Commissioner from Pakistan to the United Kingdom, 1998-99, American University, Washington, DC, IBN Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and professor of international relations. Also presented and narrated six-part television series for the British Broadcasting Company titled Living Islam, 1993, and for the three-part Channel 5 series The Glories of Islamic Art; initiated, developed, and completed films and books for the Jinnah Quartet; senior advisor to an innovative online project for an Islamic syllabus for Jones Knowledge Inc. Has appeared on numerous television and radio news and talk shows, including the Oprah Winfrey Show and Nightline. Centennial Honorary Chair of the Washington National Cathedral Centennial Celebration; trustee of the World Faiths Development Dialogue, 2001—; trustee on the Board of the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions; and senior nonresident visiting scholar at Brookings Institution.
Royal Anthropological Institute (fellow), Association of Social Anthropology, American Anthropological Association, American Ethnological Society, Pakistan Sociological Association, Islamic Academy, Royal Commonwealth Society, Royal Society of Asian Affairs.
SOAS Governing Body Postgraduate Award, 1978; Tamgha-Imtiaz Award, Government of Pakistan, 1982; Star of Excellence, Pakistan; Sir Percy Sykes Memorial Medal, Royal Society for Asian Affairs in London; First Annual Bridge Builder's Award, Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington; Humanitarian Award, Chapel of Four Chaplains; Professor of the Year Award for Washington, DC, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, 2004; Gandhi Center Fellowship of Peace Award; cowinner of Inaugural Purpose Prize; Doctor of Laws from the University of Liverpool.
Mansehra: A Journey, Feroz Sons (Lahore, Pakistan), 1973.
A Strategy for Cooperation: A Study of the North-West Frontier Province, Sarhad Cooperative Union (Peshawar, Pakistan), 1973.
(Translator) Mataloona: Pukhto Proverbs, Pakistan Academy for Rural Development (Peshawar, Pakistan), 1973, revised edition, Oxford University Press (Karachi, Pakistan), 1975.
Millennium and Charisma among Pathans: A Critical Essay in Social Anthropology, foreword by E. Gellner, Routledge & Kegan Paul (Boston, MA), 1976.
Social and Economic Change in the Tribal Areas, 1972-1976, foreword by Nasirullah Khan Babar, Oxford University Press (Karach, Pakistan), 1977.
Pieces of Green: The Sociology of Change in Pakistan, 1964-1974, Royal Book Co. (Karach, Pakistan), 1977.
A Bibliography of the North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan Publications (Islamabad, Pakistan), 1979.
More Lines: Selected Poems, Royal Book Co. (Karachi, Pakistan), 1980.
Pukhtun Economy and Society: Traditional Structure and Economic Development in a Tribal Society, Routledge & Kegan Paul (Boston, MA), 1980.
Religion and Politics in Muslim Society: Order and Conflict in Pakistan, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1983, published as Resistance and Control in Pakistan, foreword by Francis Robinson, Routledge & Kegan Paul (Boston, MA), 1991, revised edition, 2004.
(Editor, with David M. Hart) Islam in Tribal Societies: From the Atlas to the Indus, Routledge & Kegan Paul (Boston, MA), 1984.
Thoughts of the Day, State Mutual Book & Periodical Service (New York, NY), 1986.
Toward Islamic Anthropology: Definition, Dogma, and Directions, foreword by Isma'il Raji al Faruqi, International Institute of Islamic Thought (Herndon, VA), 1986.
Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and Society, Routledge & Kegan Paul (Boston, MA), 1988, reprinted, 2002.
(Editor) Pakistan: The Social Sciences' Perspective, Oxford University Press (Karachi, Pakistan), 1990.
Postmodernism and Islam: Predicament and Promise, Routledge & Kegan Paul (Boston, MA), 1992, revised edition, 2004.
Living Islam: From Samarkand to Stornoway, BBC Books (London, England), 1993.
(Editor, with Hastings Donnan) Islam, Globalization, and Postmodernity, Routledge (New York, NY), 1994.
(Editor, with Cris N. Shore) The Future of Anthropology: Its Relevance to the Contemporary World, Athlone (Atlantic Highlands, NJ), 1995.
Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity: The Search for Saladin, Routledge (New York, NY), 1997.
Islam Today: A Short Introduction to the Muslim World, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1999.
Islam under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World, Polity (Cambridge, England), 2003.
Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization, Brookings Institution Press (Washington, DC), 2007.
Noor (play), produced at Theater J in Washington, DC, 2007.
The Trial of Dara Shikoh (play), produced at American University by Global Performing Arts, 2008.
Contributor to books, including The Conceit of Innocence: Losing the Conscience of the West in the War against Bosnia, Texas A&M University Press (College Station, TX), 1997. Contributor to journals, including Asian Affairs and Mid-East Journal. Books have been translated into several languages, including Chinese and Indonesian.
Akbar S. Ahmed told CA: "I am attempting to apply my discipline (anthropology) to a wide set of relevant and urgent contemporary social issues and explain Islam within and outside the Muslim community in order to build bridges between human groups."
Considered a leading authority on contemporary Islam, Ahmed has advised world leaders on Islam, appeared regularly on news shows around the world, and written numerous books about Islam. Following the attacks on the United States in 2001 by Islamic terrorists, much of the author's work has focused on discussing the growing rift between the West and Islamic countries. "The central thesis of Ahmed's work is that dialogue is required to reduce conflict between the U.S. and Islam," wrote Mark O'Keefe of the PEW Forum.
Although Ahmed's recent work has received widespread recognition and interest, he had been addressing Islamic issues long before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. For example, Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and Society, published in 1988, examines the role of Islam in various societies, including its views and traditions concerning war and women. A contributor to the Economist noted that the author's "accounts of history and society are vivid and absorbing, from the crucial early years and the glories of Islamic civilisation to the strivings (and failings) of the oil-rich countries today." The reviewer added: "In a fairly short book he offers a stimulating introduction to a religion of 800m people and a quarter of the world's countries: a religion which is also an extraordinary political force."
Ahmed is coeditor with Hastings Donnan of the 1994 book, Islam, Globalization, and Postmodernity. "The contributors to this volume succeed quite well in highlighting how Muslims and others have responded in creative ways to the religious challenges posed by living in transnational diasporas, coming to terms with various social pluralisms, or simply being bombarded by rapid worldwide communications," wrote J.R. Bowen in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.
In Islam under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World, the author takes a look at the many opinions being fostered about Islam by Western writers and scholars, from hard-line anti-Islamists to those with more sympathetic views. Ahmed delves into such topics as the effect of globalization on Islam and the growth of Islamic terrorism, the failure of Muslim leaders, women in Islam, and the ideas of inclusion and exclusion within Islam. He also writes about the challenge of Islam for the future and important issues concerning Islam and the modern world. Referring to the author as "a scholar of the highest caliber from a background in anthropology," Omid Safi wrote in a review of Islam under Siege in the Middle East Journal that "Ahmed is able to combine the astute observations of a scholar with the heartfelt pleas of a believer who—rightly so—remains committed to the fact that Islam itself can and does offer possibilities for a pluralistic, inclusive interpretation that would allow Muslims and non-Muslims to live in peace and harmony." Middle East Policy contributor Anthony T. Sullivan noted: "This is a painfully honest and intensely personal book that expresses the anguish Akbar Ahmed and many others who have worked in the arena of Christian-Muslim understanding have felt since 9/11."
In his 2007 book, Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization, Ahmed tells the story of taking a group of his students from American University on a tour of the Muslim world. His goal was to get past the mistrust and hatred that has intensified following the attacks of September 11th, the subsequent war on terror, and the increasing influence of globalization. From Karachi to Jakarta, Ahmed and two of his American students meet with Muslims in places of worship, schools, and homes. The people they meet range from government leaders and academics to sheikhs and cab drivers. Commenting on how the trip affected the viewpoints of the people the students met, Ahmed told O'Keefe in an interview posted on the Pew Forum: "I saw the impact they made just being alone with 300 bearded men who would talk to them fearlessly and cordially on the carpet of the mosque. Within one or two hours, the entire atmosphere was changed to one of welcome."
In another interview posted on PBS.org, Ahmed noted: "In the Muslim world, it's very different, so in the Muslim world what you're seeing is this thing in reverse—very few Americans appear there. The result is very few Muslims even have an idea what Americans are like. I'm talking about ordinary Muslims, and that is what needs to happen. I would like to see many, many more Americans out there in the Muslim world, really just telling people about America, about this culture, about its traditions, its mythologies, its literature, its folksongs."
Reviewing Journey into Islam, Amjad Hussain in the Toledo Blade stated that Ahmed "is a master of simplification. He can take snarled strands of culture, religion, and traditions and through the reason and logic of an anthropologist, Islamic scholar, and historian, is able to untangle the complex jigsaw puzzle and present it in an easy to comprehend narrative." "This is an important book about the possibility of building bridges and the hope that change is possible with dialogue and mutual understanding," wrote Sheila Musaji in a review posted on American Muslim, adding later in the same review: "This book should be in the library of every mosque in the U.S. and a dialogue topic in every interfaith dialogue group. It should also be read carefully and acted upon by politicians and diplomats." Charles E. Butterworth wrote in the Middle East Journal that "we must be grateful to Akbar Ahmed for pursuing such a popular and readily accessible narrative as part of his efforts to explain Islam and the practices of Muslims."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Acta Sociologica, June, 2003, Magnus T. Bernhardsson, review of Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and Society, p. 170.
All Things Considered, October 12, 2005, "Interview: Akbar Ahmed Discusses Challenges Ramadan Poses for Aid Workers."
American Anthropologist, September, 1992, Pamela A. Hunte, review of Pakistan: The Social Sciences' Perspective, p. 724; September, 1995, Paul Titus, review of Living Islam: From Samarkand to Stornoway, p. 543; March, 1997, Jonathan Friedman, review of The Future of Anthropology: Its Relevance to the Contemporary World, p. 149.
America's Intelligence Wire, May 30, 2004, "Najaf Peace Deal in Doubt; Interview with Akbar Ahmed"; March 1, 2005, "Duke U.: Prof, Father of Slain Writer Talk Tolerance at Duke"; November 11, 2005, "Brookings Partners with American University and Pew Forum to Launch Initiative; Akbar Ahmed to Lead Exploration of Islam in the Age of Globalization."
Asian Affairs, October, 1990, Christine M. Cottam, review of Pakistan, p. 353; February, 1993, Hugh Leach, review of Postmodernism and Islam: Predicament and Promise, p. 89; October, 1993, Ivor Lucas, review of Living Islam, p. 328; June, 1998, Hugh Leach, review of Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity: The Search for Saladin, p. 214.
Blade (Toledo, OH), July 8, 2007, S. Amjad Hussain, review of Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization.
Book Report, September-October, 1995, Winifred Sihon, review of Living Islam, p. 55.
Choice, May, 1993, B.B. Lawrence, review of Postmodernism and Islam, p. 1482; May, 1996, review of The Future of Anthropology, p. 1519; March, 1998, review of Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity, p. 1245.
Christian Science Monitor, September 11, 2003, review of Islam under Seige: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World, p. 15.
Economist, April 4, 1987, review of Pakistan Society: Islam, Ethnicity, and Leadership in South Asia, p. 92; June 18, 1988, review of Discovering Islam, p. 93.
Editor & Publisher, January 28, 2002, "Religion News Service Adds Muslim Writer to Its Roster," p. 23.
Encounter, November, 1989, review of Discovering Islam, p. 48.
Ethnic and Racial Studies, January, 1990, Fred Halliday, review of Discovering Islam, p. 106; July, 1994, J.S. Nielsen, review of Postmodernism and Islam, p. 550.
Far Eastern Economic Review, October 6, 1988, Aliaa Zayed, review of Discovering Islam, p. 52.
Futurist, November-December, 2007, review of Journey into Islam, p. 60.
History Today, January, 1990, Francis Robinson, review of Discovering Islam, p. 59; August, 1992, Saba Risaluddin, review of Resistance and Control in Pakistan, p. 53.
International Affairs, July, 1991, David Capitanchik, review of Resistance and Control in Pakistan, p. 626; October, 1991, Anthony Hyman, review of Discovering Islam, p. 824; January, 1993, Anthony Hyman, review of Postmodernism and Islam, p. 166; October, 1993, Anthony Parson, review of Living Islam, p. 763; October, 1995, Hale Afshar, review of Islam, Globalization, and Postmodernity, p. 831; April, 1996, Alex de Waal, review of The Future of Anthropology, p. 382; October, 1997, David Page, review of Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity, p. 829.
International Journal of Middle East Studies, May, 1991, David B. Edwards, review of Discovering Islam, p. 270; November, 1992, Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr, review of Resistance and Control in Pakistan, p. 690; August, 1995, Youssef M. Choueiri, review of Living Islam, p. 343.
International Review of Social History, April, 1997, Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, reviews of Islam, Globalization, and Postmodernity and Postmodernism and Islam, p. 79.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, June, 1996, Bruce Lawrence, review of Postmodernism and Islam, p. 193.
Journal of Asian and African Studies, January-April, 1992, Anita M. Weiss, review of Pakistan, p. 165.
Journal of Asian Studies, November, 1993, Barbara D. Metcalf, review of Postmodernism and Islam, p. 1041; November, 1996, Frederick Mathewson Denny, review of Living Islam, p. 1104; February, 2001, David Gilmartin, review of Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity, p. 247.
Journal of Ecumenical Studies, winter-spring, 2002, Leonard Swidler, "Whence and Whither Islam?," p. 110.
Journal of Psychiatry & Law, fall, 1996, Stepan Mestrovic, review of Living Islam.
Journal of the American Academy of Religion, fall, 1992, Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi, review of Discovering Islam.
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, June, 1996, J.R. Bowen, review of Islam, Globalization, and Postmodernity, p. 379.
Library Journal, April 1, 1999, "Islam Today: A Short Introduction to the Muslim World," p. 103; September 1, 2004, "Born in the USA: Muslim Americans," p. 199.
Media, Culture & Society, January, 1993, "Islam, Postmodernity and the Media: An Interview with Akbar S. Ahmed," p. 29.
Middle East Journal, summer, 1990, review of Discovering Islam; summer, 2007, Charles E. Butterworth, review of Journey into Islam.
Middle East Policy, spring, 2004, Antony T. Sullivan, review of Islam under Siege.
Modern Asian Studies, February, 1990, Premen Addy, review of Discovering Islam, p. 205; May, 1991, Javed Majeed, review of Pakistan, p. 408; October, 1993, Bryan S. Turner, review of Postmodernism and Islam, p. 897; July, 2005, Karen Armstrong, review of Islam under Siege, p. 754.
Muslim World, April, 1991, Howard M. Federspiel, review of Discovering Islam, p. 170; July-October, 1994, Whitney S. Bodman, review of Postmodernism and Islam, p. 347.
New Community, January, 1992, Pnina Werbner, review of Resistance and Control in Pakistan, p. 346.
New Statesman & Society, August 11, 1989, Bhikhu Parekh, review of Discovering Islam, p. 25; April 26, 1991, Malise Ruthven, review of Resistance and Control in Pakistan, p. 29; June 12, 1992, Stephen Howe, review of Postmodernism and Islam, p. 36.
Newsweek, September 11, 2006, "Mideast Relations: After His Son's Death, a New Life's Work," p. 8.
Political Quarterly, July-September, 1996, Sally L. Jenkinson, review of Living Islam, p. 281.
PPI-Pakistan Press International, August 9, 2006, "Diplomatic: Akbar S. Ahmed May Join UN Secretary General's Contest."
Publishers Weekly, April 23, 2007, review of Journey into Islam, p. 44.
Reference & Research Book News, October, 1988, review of Discovering Islam, p. 2; September, 1994, review of Living Islam, p. 2; July, 1996, review of The Future of Anthropology, p. 22; February, 2005, review of Resistance and Control in Pakistan, p. 51; August, 2007, review of Journey into Islam.
Religion, July, 1993, review of Resistance and Control in Pakistan, p. 285; April, 1994, Ahmed Mukarram, review of Postmodernism and Islam, p. 187.
Sociological Review, February, 1999, Sarah Ansari, review of Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity, p. 186.
Sociology, February, 1999, Bryan S. Turner, review of Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity, p. 199.
Talk of the Nation, December 24, 2001, "Analysis: Pakistan and the War on Terrorism"; November 19, 2002, "Analysis: Democracy and Islam."
Times Educational Supplement, July 9, 1993, "From Samarkand to Stornoway," p. 24.
Times Higher Education Supplement, August 15, 1997, Katherine Frank, review of Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity, p. 22; September 21, 2007, "A Subtler Take on the Clash of Civilizations," p. 19, and "Multi-layered World but Driven by Rivalries," p. 24.
Times Literary Supplement, January 15, 1993, John Cooper, review of Postmodernism and Islam, p. 14; May 14, 1993, review of Living Islam, p. 19; August 8, 1997, Ian Talbot, review of Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity, p. 8.
US Newswire, October 11, 2007, "‘Understanding Islam’ Course Creates Awareness and Improved Relations."
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October, 2001, "Farewell Dinner for Prof. Akbar Ahmed," p. 86; December, 2001, "14th Century Thought for the 21st," p. 96.
Weekend Edition Sunday, August 7, 2005, "Interview: Akbar Ahmed Discusses His Summer Reading Picks."
World Policy Journal, fall, 1998, Fouad Ajami, review of Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity.
World Today, October, 1996, "Unfinished Struggle for Freedom," p. 264.
Akbar S. Ahmed Home Page,http://www.akbarahmed.org (January 18, 2008).
American Muslim,http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/ (June 28, 2007), Sheila Musaji, "Akbar Ahmed's Journey into Islam Offers a Blueprint to Avert a Clash of Civilizations."
American University Web site,http://www.american.edu/ (January 18, 2008), faculty profiles of author.
Colgate University Web site,http://classes.colgate.edu/ (January 18, 2008), Omid Safi, review of Islam under Seige.
Internationalist Magazine,http://www.intmag.org/ (April 3, 2007), Shilpi Paul, "Akbar Ahmed's Call for Compassion."
PBS.org,http://www.pbs.org/ (August 16, 2007), "Akbar Ahmed," interview with author.
PEW Forum,http://pewforum.org/ (August 22, 2006), Mark O'Keefe, "Five Years after 9/11, ‘Dialogue’ with Islam Cause for Hope."
Purposeprize.org,http://www.purposeprize.org/ (January 18, 2008), "Judea Pearl and Akbar Ahmed."