Akbar Ahmed Begins Most Ambitious Project Yet:  Study of Islam in Europe

Akbar Ahmed Begins Most Ambitious Project Yet:  Study of Islam in Europe

by Craig Considine

Europe today confronts complicated and controversial issues surrounding its Muslim population including Sharia law, terrorism, the building of mosques, female dress, and the pressures of immigration and multiculturalism. These concerns have helped fuel the rise of right-wing political parties across the continent.

Akbar Ahmed, world-renowned Muslim anthropologist and the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies in American University’s School of International Service who is referred to by the BBC as “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam”, is now embarking on a new research project on Islam in Europe: Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Empire. Professor Ahmed will travel across Europe, from Belfast to the Balkans, with his international research team on his most ambitious project yet to examine the Muslim community in Europe in the context of European history and identity.

Journey into Europe is the fourth book in an unprecedented quartet of award-winning books published with Brookings Institution Press exploring relations between the West and the world of Islam after 9/11. The first, Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization (2007), examined what Muslims thought of the US and the West through field work across the Muslim world; the second, Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam (2010, Winner of the 2011 American Book Award), examined how Americans perceived Islam and Muslims based in Ahmed and his team’s travels to 75 cities and 100 mosques across America; the third, The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam (2013, Named a “Book of the Year” in The Times Literary Supplement, Winner of the German Peace Prize, and short-listed for the Coca Cola Award for Best Non-Fiction at the 2014 Karachi Literature Festival) explored the tribal societies on the periphery of nations where the real “war on terror” is taking place. Journey into Europe will complete Ahmed’s quartet, culminating in both a book and documentary film.

Throughout the trip, team members will be posting their thoughts as well as photos and videos from their experience to their blog, http://www.journeyintoeurope.wordpress.com

Ahmed’s quartet of books has received praise from prominent politicians, journalists, religious leaders, and academics. Speaking of his previous book, The Thistle and the Drone, Professor Marilyn Strathern, the former William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, declared, “I am moved, horrified, and encouraged all at once. Above all, Professor Ahmed makes me proud to be an anthropologist!” The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, wrote of the same study, “This book is of genuinely global importance…Professor Ahmed combines a clear professional anthropological expertise with an equally clear, critical and humane moral perspective. This is an unusual and groundbreaking book, which should be compulsory reading for Western governments.” Commenting on the first book of the quartet, Journey into Islam, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel stated, “Akbar Ahmed’s voice needs to be heard, and his courage strengthened.”

Ahmed is the former Pakistani High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland. Previously, he was the Iqbal Fellow (Chair of Pakistan Studies) and Fellow of Selwyn College at the University of Cambridge. He has also taught at Harvard and Princeton Universities. Ahmed is the author of over a dozen award-winning books, including Discovering Islam, which was the basis of a six-part BBC TV Series called Living Islam. He is regularly interviewed on Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, and NBC and has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world. http://www.american.edu

Visit Journey Into Europe site for regular information on this project http://journeyintoeurope.wordpress.com/