School of International Service
Additional Positions at AU
- Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies
Ambassador Akbar Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, D.C and the former Pakistani High Commissioner to the U.K. and Ireland. Named “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam” by the BBC, Ahmed also serves as a trustee for the World Faiths Development Dialogue, chaired by Lord George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. Previously, Ahmed has served as a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, the First Distinguished Chair of Middle East and Islamic Studies at the U.S Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, and the Iqbal Fellow (Chair of Pakistan Studies) and Fellow of Selwyn College at the University of Cambridge. Ahmed has taught as well at Harvard and Princeton Universities. In addition to his academic posts, Ahmed belonged to the senior civil service cadre of Pakistan and has served as Commissioner in Baluchistan and Political Agent in the Tribal Areas, including Waziristan.
Ahmed has directed a number of noteworthy films and authored more than a dozen award-winning books. Ahmed conceived and in the 1990s completed the Jinnah Quartet, which was comprised of the feature film, Jinnah (1998), with Christopher Lee in the title role; the documentary, Mr. Jinnah: The Making of Pakistan (1997); the graphic novel, The Quaid: Jinnah and the Story of Pakistan (1997); and the biographical study, Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity: The Search for Saladin (1997). In the aftermath of 9/11, Ahmed conceived a quartet of studies published by Brookings Press examining relations between the West and the World of Islam, which includes Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization (2007), Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam (2010), The Thistle and the Drone: How America's War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam (2013), and Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity (forthcoming). Journey into America and Journey into Europe were accompanied by documentaries of the same name (2009 and 2015). A critically acclaimed playwright, Ahmed has written and staged the plays Noor and The Trial of Dara Shikoh around the world. A poet, Ahmed’s poems were broadcast from the Library of Congress in “The Poet and the Poem” podcast series. Ahmed consistently writes for a number of popular news publications around the globe, including a regular column in the Daily Times, a leading English-language Pakistani newspaper.
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), the first-ever Purpose Prize alongside Judea Pearl, and the inaugural Gandhi Memorial Center Peace Award. Furthermore, Ahmed has been consistently featured in The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims; named a 2015 Global Thought Leader by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute and The Huffington Post’s WorldPost; acknowledged as a “Notable Alumnus” of SOAS, University of London; awarded the 2017 Sir Syed Day Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in Poetry, Literature, Arts or the Sciences by the Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association of New Jersey and Pennsylvania; and declared the 2017 Scholar/Teacher of the Year of the American University School of International Service, one of the top-ten international relations programs in the U.S. In July 2017, Ahmed will have the honor of returning to the Chautauqua Institution to deliver a lecture titled, “Being Muslim Today: Building Bridges in an Age of Uncertainty.” He is currently writing his latest play, Gandhi and Jinnah Return Home.
PhD, University of London; MA/Diploma in Education, Cambridge University; BSS (Honors), Birmingham University
- Favorite Spot on Campus
- Mary Graydon Center
- Book Currently Reading
- A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster
- Languages Spoken
- Urdu, French, English
Download CV (PDF)