Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies; professor of comparative and regional studies
Area of Expertise:
Islam in Europe, Islam in America, Mosques, Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Asia, anthropology, comparative and regional studies, terrorism, ISIL, ISIS, drones, tribal culture
Ambassador Akbar Ahmed is a diplomat, anthropologist, writer, and filmmaker. Ahmed has held important posts in Pakistan—including Pakistan's high commissioner (ambassador) to the United Kingdom; commissioner, Quetta; political agent, South Waziristan Agency; and founder-director general of the National Center for Rural Development, Islamabad. He has been involved in interfaith dialogue and the study of global Islam and its impact on contemporary society, and has been called "the world's leading authority on contemporary Islam" by the BBC. Ahmed is the author of more than a dozen award-winning books on contemporary Islam, including a quartet of studies published by Brookings Press examining relations between the West and the World of Islam after 9/11. The four studies include: Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization (2007), which chronicles Ahmed's experiences leading a team of young Americans on a tour of the Muslim world to seek understanding between Western and Islamic cultures; Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam (2010), in which Ahmed traveled with his team of young Americans across the U.S. to more than 75 cities and 100 mosques to understand the largely unknown American Muslim community; The Thistle and the Drone: How America's War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam (2013), which draws on forty case studies to evaluate the relationship between central governments and largely rural Muslim tribal societies living on the periphery of Muslim and non-Muslim nations; and Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity (2018), in which Ahmed and his team traveled the length and breadth of Europe to gain an inside look at Islam in Europe and European civilization. Ahmed’s documentary, Journey into Europe, based on his European fieldwork, was released in 2015 and has been shown at film festivals and universities across the U.S. and throughout the world. Ahmed also produced the documentary film Journey into America (2009) based on his fieldwork spanning the U.S. Ahmed served as the First Distinguished Chair of Middle East and Islamic Studies at the U.S. Naval Academy and was a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. In the 2000s, he embarked on a speaker series with Judea Pearl, father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Ahmed is the recipient of a number of awards, including the Government of Pakistan’s Star of Excellence (Sitara-i-Imtiaz) for academic distinction and Medal of Excellence (Tamgha-i-Imtiaz), and the first-ever Purpose Prize alongside Judea Pearl. Ahmed has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Daily Show with John Stewart, CNN, NBC Nightly News, and the BBC, and has been interviewed by numerous newspapers and magazines, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post. Ahmed consistently writes for a number of popular news publications around the globe, including a weekly column in the Daily Times, a leading English-language Pakistani newspaper.
Foreign Language Fluency:
BA, Forman Christian College, Pakistan; MA, Cambridge University; PhD, London University
Asia-South Asia, Middle East-Afghanistan, Middle East-Arab World Issues, Middle East-Iraq, Middle East-Pakistan, Religion and Philosophy, Terrorism