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School of International Service, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW; Washington, DC 20016


1.  Professional Career

2001-                Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and Professor of International

                        Relations at American University.

2000-2001         Visiting Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Stewart

Fellow of the Humanities Council at Princeton University.

1982-2000         Affiliate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University

of Washington, Seattle.

1999-2000         High Commissioner for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in the United Kingdom and was also accredited to Ireland from November to July.

1993-1999         Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge University.

1988-1993         Iqbal Fellow (Chair in Pakistan Studies) and Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge University.

1982-1988         Commissioner of three Divisions in Baluchistan and the Founder

Director-General of the National Center for Rural Development in Islamabad.

1981-1982         Visiting Professor into Department of Anthropology at Harvard University.

1980-1981         Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

1978-1980         Political Agent, South Waziristan Agency, Government of the North-

West Frontier Province (NWFP).

1977-1978         Ford Foundation Fellow of London University.

1966-1988         Additional Secretary, Home and Tribal Affairs, the Registrar Cooperative Societies and President of the Cooperative Bank, NWFP, and other positions throughout Pakistan.

1966                 Member of the Civi1 Service of Pakistan.



2.  Education

1994                 Master of Arts Degree, Cambridge University (awarded as a Fellow).

1978                 Ph.D., Department of Sociology and Anthropology, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London University.

1965                 Diploma Education (2 Distinctions), Cambridge University (Selwyn College).

1961-64            Bach. Arts (Gold Medal: History and English), Punjab University; Bach. Social Sciences (Economics and Sociology), Honors, Birmingham University.

1957-59            Senior Cambridge (1st Division, 4 Distinctions)/Higher Senior Cambridge (4 'A' levels, 2 Distinctions), Burn Hall, Abbottabad.


3.  Selected books

2002-                Islam Under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World.  Polity Press, Cambridge (in press).

2002-                Negotiating God: Global Society and the Idea of the Divine in the 21st Century (in preparation).

2002                 Islam Today: A Short Introduction to the Muslim World, I.B. Tauris, London. Originally published in 1999 (“Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year,” LA Times). Revised and updated.

 2002                Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and Society, Routledge Reprinted in Pakistan and India. Originally published in 1988. Revised edition with new introduction by Professor Lawrence Rosen of Princeton University.

1997                 Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic identity: The Search for Saladin, Routledge. Reprinted by Oxford University Press in Asia.

1997                 The Quaid: Jinnah and the Story of Pakistan (the Graphic Novel), Oxford University Press, Karachi. President's Award for best book on Quaid, Iqbal and Pakistan 1998 (Pakistan).

1995                 The Future of Anthropology: Its Relevance to the Contemporary World, edited with Professor Cris Shore. Athlone, University of London.

1994                 Islam, Globalization and Postmodernity, edited with Professor Hastings Donnan. Routledge.

1993                 Living Islam: From Samarkand to Stornoway, BBC Books. Paperback edition: Penguin Books 1995. Republished by Facts on File, USA; Special Edition for unit/formation libraries, Army Education Press, Pakistan, 1994.

1992                 Postmodernism and Islam: Predicament and Promise, Routledge. (Nominated for the Amalfi Award.) Reprinted by Penguin India.

1986                 Pakistan Society: Islam, Ethnicity and Leadership in South Asia, Oxford University Press. Reprinted in India. Reprinted in Oxford Pakistan Paperbacks, 1997.

1983                 Religion and Politics in Muslim Society, Cambridge University Press Reprinted as Resistance and Control in Pakistan, Routledge, 1991.

1976                 Millennium and Charisma among Pathans: A Critical Essay in Social Anthropology, Routledge and Kegan Paul. Translated and published in Pukhto by Pukhto Academy, Peshawar University, 1978. Paperback edition 1980. First prize Urdu translation, Pakistan Writers' Guild and Abbasin Arts Council, 1985.


Books have been translated into many languages including:

Arabic, Turkish, Indonesian, Urdu, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese and Dutch.


4.  Selected recent articles/Forewords/Book reviews


2002-                Introduction to Creation of the Modern Middle East book series, Chelsea House

                        Publishers, Philadelphia.

2002                 Foreword to American Muslims by Muqtedar Khan, Amana Publications,


2002                 Introduction to and Chapter in Inside Islam,Marlowe & Company, New York.

2002                 “Ibn Khaldun’s Understanding of Civilizations and the Dilemmas of Islam and

                        the West Today,” The Middle East Journal, Vol. 56, No. 1, Winter.

2002                 “Jefferson and Jinnah: Humanist Ideals and the Mythology of Nation-Building,” 

The International Center for Jefferson Studies, Bellagio, June 3-7 (to be published in edited book).

2002                 Book review of Transnational Muslim Politics:Reimagining the Umma by Peter  Mandaville, in The American Political Science Review (forthcoming).

2002                 “Discussing Inevitability,” The Christian Science Monitor, May 30.

2002                 “Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law: Words Fail Me,” The Washington Post, May 19.

2002                 “Leaps of Faith,” The Guardian, May 4.

2001                 “Blood Brothers,” with Amit Pandya, The Washington Post, Dec. 28.

2001                 “Hollywood and Islam,” LA Times Syndication, Nov. 21.

2001                 “Islam and Academe,” with Lawrence Rosen, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 2.

2001                 “Veiled Truth,” The Guardian, Oct. 22.

2001                 “Opinions From Across the World,” The Sunday Telegraph, Sept. 30.

2001                 “I’ve Spent My Life Trying to Repair the Image of Islam: Has It All Been In

                        Vain?” The Independent, Sept. 20.

2001                 Foreword to Imperial Frontier: Tribe and State in Waziristan by

                        Hugh Beattie, Curzon Press.

2000                 “From Millionaire to Cleaner, Everyone is Equal on the Haj,”

                        The Independent, April 24.

1998                 “World without Honour?” The World Today, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, October.

1998                 “Embracing the Other,” Inaugural Issue of Interventions: The International Journal of Postcolonial Studies,1:1, Routledge.

1998                 “Towards the Global Millennium: The Challenge of Islam,” Inaugural Issue, Newsletter: International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World, Leiden. Reprinted from 1996 The World Today.

1998                 “The Media as Demon in the Post-Modernist Age of Secularism,” Two Cheers for Secularism, edited by Sidney Brichto and Richard Harries, Pilkington Press, North Hamptonshire.

1997                 “Ethnic Cleansing: A Metaphor for Our Time,” The Conceit of Innocence, edited by S.G. Mestrovic, Texas A&M University Press, Texas, U.S.A.

1997                 “Social Structure in Pakistan,” Old Roads, New Highways, edited by Victoria Schofield, Oxford University Press, Karachi.

1997                 “Women and the Household in Baluchistan and Frontier Society,” Family and Gender in Pakistan, edited by Hastings Donnan and Frits Selier, Hindustan Publishing Corporation, Delhi.

1996                 “Islam,” World Book International Year Book.

1996                 “Towards the Global Millennium: The Challenge of Islam,” The World Today, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, August/September; next issue carried response to the article by Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan, and Prince Hassan of Jordan.

1996                 “An Islamic University on the Internet: Faith and Reason,” The Independent,July 20.

1996                 “The Hero in History: Myth, Media and Realities,” History Today, March.

1995                 Media Mongols at the Gates of Baghdad,” At Century's End: Great Minds Reflect On Our Times, edited by N.P. Gardels, ALTI Publishing, California.

1995                 “Islam,” The Guardian, (“Outlook/Predictions” for 1996), December 30.

1995                 “Great Religions Must be Built on Respect for All,” The Times: Credo, August 26.

1995                 “The Crisis of the New World Order: a Muslim perspective,” New Perspectives Quarterly, USA.

1995                 “Where the Normal American Meets the Muslim Cleric,” New Perspectives Quarterly, USA.

1995                 “Past Masters,” The Times Higher Educational Supplement, March 17.

1995                 “Feeding a Hunger for Spiritual Peace,” The Times: Credo, February 18.

1995                 “No Place Like Home,” (The Chechen war), The Guardian: Comment and Analysis, January 12.

1995                 “‘Ethnic Cleansing’: A Metaphor for Our Time?” Ethnic and Racial Studies (lead article), vol. 18, no. 1, Jan.

1994                 “Trial by Ordeal Among Bugtis: Ritual as a Diacritical Factor in Baloch Ethnicity,” Marginality and Modernity: Ethnicity and Change in Post-Colonial Balochistan, edited by Paul Titus, OUP, Oxford.

1994                 “The World of the Prophet,” The Independent on Sunday (The Sunday Review), Oct. 23.

1994                 “Mr. Jinnah and the Quest for Muslim Identity in South Asia,” History Today, September.

1994                 (with the Reverend James Mynors) “Fowlmere: Roundheads, Rambo and Rivalry in an English Village Today,” Anthropology Today, Oct.

1994                 “Fighting the Fear of Islam's Crescent,” The Guardian: Comment and Analysis, Aug. 9.

1994                 “How Science Shows Religion the Way: What We Believe: Leading Scientists and Religious Thinkers Give a Personal View,” The Sunday Times: The Culture, Aug. 14.

1993                 “Points of Entry: The Taj Mahal,” History Today, Vol. 43, May.

1993                 “Media Mongols at the Gates of Baghdad,” New Perspectives Quarterly,

                        vol. 10, Summer.

1993                 “Mor and Tor : Binary and Opposing Models of Pukhtun Womanhood,” with Zeenat Ahmed, Women, Aid and Development, edited by C. Cottam and S.V. Rao, HPC, Delhi.

1992                 “Bombay Films: The Cinema as Metaphor for Indian Society and Politics,”

                        Modern Asian Studies, 26, 2, Cambridge University Press, pp. 289-320.

1991                 “Postmodernist Perceptions of Islam: Observing the Observer,” Asian Survey,  Vol. 31, No 3.

1991                 “Migration, Death and Martyrdom in Rural Pakistan,” Economy and Culture in Pakistan, edited by Hastings Donnan and Pnina Werbner, Macmillan, London, previously published in MAN.

1990                 Foreword to The Cultural Basis of Afghan Nationalism, edited by E. Anderson and N.H. Dupree, Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford, Pinter Publishers, London and New York.


5.  Book reviews

Book reviews in International Affairs, The Journal of Asian Studies, The Middle East Journal, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Middle East Studies Association Bulletin and The American Political Science Review; also in The Independent, New Statesman and The Guardian.


6.  Editorial board

Ethnic and Racial Studies, London School of Economics and Political Science, London; Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, edited from Oxford University; Critical Theology: International Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Critical Theory and Theology, University of Nottingham, UK; Central Asian Survey, Oxford; Muslim Education Quarterly, Cambridge; The Journal of Economic and Social Research, Fatih University, Istanbul and Human Rights Review, edited from Wellesley College, Mass, USA.


7.  Media

Regular syndicated columnist for the Religion News Service.


Frequent media appearances in the United Kingdom and the United States; appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” CNN, MSNBC, NBC Nightly News and BBC; interviewed by The New York Times, the Washington Post, People magazine and Newsweek, among other publications; participated in seminar hosted by Bill Moyers on Islam and the West, at the Aspen Institute, which was broadcast as a PBS special in July 2002. Executive producer, co-script writer and originator of the award winning feature film. Jinnah (1998) and Executive Producer and Script Supervisor TV Documentary Mr. Jinnah: The Making of Pakistan (1997). Presented and narrated 6 Part BBC TV series Living Islam, summer 1993 based on Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and Society (1988).


8.  Honors/Distinctions


2000-2002         Delivered the Key Note Address to: The Brookings First Task Force on Islam, Washington, DC; The American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies, Villanova University; American Muslim Council, Washington, DC; Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, Washington, DC; The Association of Muslim Social Scientists, Washington, DC; Islamic Society of North America, Washington, DC

2002                 Joined the Board of Trustees of the Graduate School of Islamic and Social

Sciences, Leesburg, Virginia.

2002                 Joined the International Advisory Board of the American Journal of

Islamic Social Sciences, a joint publication of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and the Association of Muslim Social Scientists.

2002                 Delivered an address to the Washington Hebrew Congregation as a speaker for the Amram Sunday Scholar Series, Oct. 27.

2002                 Attended the World Faiths Development Dialogue conference in Canterbury,

UK, Oct. 6-8.

2002                 Gave the President’s Distinguished Annual Lecture, The University of Victoria,

                        Canada, Mar. 15.

2002                 Given the Free Speech Award for 2002 by the Muslim Public Affairs Council,

                        Washington, DC.

2002                 Gave the American University Emeriti “Distinguished Speaker” Lecture.

2002                 Gave the Khattab Lecture at the University of Toledo, Ohio.

2002                 Participated in the panel discussion at the Washington National Cathedral on

“Personal Faith and Public Choices,” hosted by Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon and

moderated by Tim Russert. 

2002                 Delivered a special lecture at the East India Club in London hosted by the Media

                        Advisor on Islam in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

2002                 Participated in a lecture series on Islam, Council of Foreign Relations, Santa Fe.

2002                 Participated in the Executive Seminar on Asia, Aspen Institute, Aspen. 

2001                 Appointed Trustee of the World Faiths Development Dialogue by the Archbishop

                        of Canterbury and President of the World Bank.

2000                 Gave the Fredrick Wood Lecture, Cornell University.

2000                 Gave the Key Note Address at the “Pakistan Millennium Conference,”

Boston University.

1999                 Served as a member of the Advisory Council of the Three Faiths Forum, UK,

promoting dialogue and understanding between the Abrahamic religions.

1999                 Became the first Muslim to deliver the Rabbi Goldstein Memorial Lecture organized by the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues of the UK.

1999                 Received a Special Award by the Jinnah Society, Karachi.

1998                 Presented the Inaugural Allama Iqbal Award by the Pakistan Society, Cambridge University.

1988                 Presented a Gold Medal by the Quaid-i-Azam Memorial Society, UK, in Glasgow.

1998                 Delivered the Distinguished Scholars Public Lecture at the Queen’s University Belfast.

1997                 Gave the plenary lecture at the American Institute of Pakistan Studies

50th Year Anniversary Conference on Pakistan in North Carolina in 1997.

1997                 Presented a Gold Medal by the Iqbal Academy, London.

1996                 Became the first Muslim Oxbridge don to address a congregation at Evensong,

in the Selwyn College Chapel.

1996                 Gave the Inaugural Scholar’s Annual Lecture at Rugby School

(short-list included Salman Rushdie).

1996                 Gave the Longman/History Today Awards Lecture, London.

1995                 Served as a Commissioner on the historic Runnymede Commission

“Islamophobia: A Challenge for us all,” set up to examine “Islamophobia,” a term the Commission coined to mean prejudice against Islam and Muslims. The Commission’s Report on Islamophobia is considered a landmark in ethnic and community relations. Earlier Commissioner on the influential Runnymede Trust Commission to study the causes of anti-Semitism and suggest recommendations to check it.

1995                 Awarded the Sir Percy Sykes Memorial Medal by the Royal Society

for Asian Affairs for helping mutual understanding between Islam

and the West.

1994                 Delivered the third ERS/LSE Annual Lecture at the London School

of Economics.

1993                 Elevated to Category C for “Academic Distinction” in the Fellowship.

at Selwyn College, Cambridge University.

1993                 Assisted in the preparation of the Special Lecture on Islam given

by HRH the Prince of Wales at Oxford, Oct. 27/member,

Islamic advisory group to HRH.

1992                 Awarded the Star of Excellence (Sitara-i-Imtiaz) for academic distinction by the Pakistani Government.

1991                 Became the first Pakistani to have been elected as member of the Council of the Royal Anthropological Institute.

1990                 Delivered a special lecture on Islam to HRH the Princess of Wales at the Royal Anthropological Institute, London, Sept. 13.

1989                 Given the Calamus Annual Award after delivering the Inaugural Distinguished Annual Lecture.

1989                 Given the Achievement Award by the Asia City Club, London.

1982                 Awarded the Medal of Excellence (Tamgha-i-Imtiaz) by the Pakistani Government.


9.  Associations

The Royal Anthropological Institute, the Association of Social Anthropologists, the Royal Society for Asian Affairs, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, the United Oxford and Cambridge University Club, London etc.







Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and Society.

Revised Edition 2002


“It is, I know, a veritable act of heresy to attribute to a faith a belief I know it does not hold. And yet it is hard to avoid the feeling that the author is the incarnation of those whom he has reason to most admire. Never having met Ibn Khaldun or Saladin, the great Mughal Akbar or the medieval social theorist al-Beruni, one comes away from every encounter with his work prepared to believe one has indeed encountered each of them reincarnated in Akbar Ahmed himself. So let me introduce you to this most genial and enlightened of guides, and through him, as his friends and colleagues know so well, to yourself.”

From Foreword by Professor Lawrence Rosen of Princeton University



“At a time of great international unrest in which the issue of faith has risen up the agenda of us all, Professor Akbar Ahmed’s book Discovering Islam is essential reading for thinking people who wish to understand this great world religion. This is an incisive, intelligent book, and I am delighted to commend it.”

The Right Hon. George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury



“It is refreshing, if not unique, to find a thoughtful adherent taking seriously the hard questions posed by those outside Islam, dealing with them honestly and in the process making the spiritual truths of Islam so accessible.”

Benjamin Ladner, President, American University



“This engaging, personal, frank, insightful, challenging, and provocative walk through Islamic history, past and present, will prove invaluable.”

Professor John L. Esposito, Founding Director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University



“There has never been a greater need for understanding Islam, and no better source than Discovering Islam. Ahmed is truly ‘the ambassador of Islam.’”

Professor Tamara Sonn, President, the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies



“There is no one better qualified by scholarship or academic experience than Akbar Ahmed to explain to the western world the teachings of Islam, which all too often tend to be distorted and misunderstood.”

Lord Bernard Weatherhill, former Speaker of the House of Commons, UK


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