Tag Archives: American University

A recap of the Jewish Muslim Dialogue held at American University last week

From Washington Jewish Week, “Importance of civility: A.U. hosts Jewish-Muslim dialogue” by Larry Luxner:

The first time Pakistani diplomat, author and lecturer Akbar Ahmed was invited to speak at a synagogue, his deeply suspicious Muslim countrymen did all they could to dissuade him from going.

“I was invited by my great friend, Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi of Britain,” he said, recalling the 1999 controversy. “I literally had no idea about Jewish history, and I had never been in a synagogue. There was opposition from Muslims who were determined to prevent me from giving my talk. And there were Jewish students who also said it must not be allowed. But I did go, and from then on, the atmosphere in England changed in terms of Jewish-Muslim relations.”

Since then, Ahmed has been to shul many times — perhaps even more than some Jews.

Read the entire article here.

Thursday Night: A Conversation with Akbar Ahmed

A Conversation with Akbar Ahmed: Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam

September 9, 2010 | 06:00PM

Bunn Intercultural Center (ICC) Auditorium, Georgetown University

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Sally Quinn, founder of the Washington Post’s On Faith page, will moderate this conversation.

The most comprehensive study ever done on the American Muslim community, Journey into America explores and documents how Muslims are fitting into U.S. society, seeking to place the Muslim experience in the U.S. within the larger context of American identity. Scholar Akbar Ahmed and his team of young researchers traveled through over seventy-five cities across the United States and visited over one hundred mosques. Ahmed illuminates unexplored Muslim-American communities through his pursuit of challenging questions: Can we expect an increase in homegrown terrorism? How do American Muslims of Arab descent differ from those of other origins (e.g. Somali or South Asian)? Why are so many white women converting to Islam? Much like Ahmed’s widely hailed Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization (Brookings, 2007), Journey into America is equal parts anthropological research, listening tour, and travelogue. Whereas the previous book took the reader into homes, schools, mosques, and public places in heavily Muslim nations, Journey into America takes us into the heart of America’s Muslim communities in America. It is essential reading for anyone trying to make sense of America today, especially its Muslim population—the challenges it faces, the challenges it poses, and its prospects for the future.

Sally Quinn, a Washington Post journalist, is the author of several books. She founded and co-moderates the Washington Post’s On Faith page.

“Journey into America” on Pakistani TV Saturday and streaming

For those who have not seen the film yet, here is your chance. The film will be shown on Saturday at 12:00 noon Eastern Standard Time (10:00 p.m. in Pakistan) on Pakistani  television station AAJ TV on the show Washington Report.

For those not in Pakistan, AAJ will stream the film on the internet at www.justin.tv Then keyword search “AAJ NEWS” and this will give you a few choices, choose AAJ News live streaming telecast.

Check for updates about rebroadcasts on Washington Report’s Facebook page. Washington Report has previously shown an interview with Akbar Ahmed on the project and film. Below are parts of the interview previously aired to publicize the film showing.

Maya Soetoro-Ng visits Professor Ahmed’s “American Identity” class

Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng at Professor Ahmed's class at American University

Like so many of my peers, I set off a couple years ago to college in Washington, DC, looking to save the world, or at least change it, and promptly found that the world is a bit uncooperative.  Unfortunately, there seems to be a glut of well-intentioned young people in pursuit of college degrees and world peace at the moment.  To be quite honest, I seem to be a good bit more cynical now than ever before.  That cynicism held for my last real class of the semester, in which we would have Maya Soetoro-Ng as a speaker.  “She’s only coming to speak because she’s President Obama’s sister,” said my inner snark, which may have been right.  However, I was to be blown out of my complacency and ennui by Ms. Soetoro-Ng and her message.  The course focused on American identity and the American Muslim community and was taught by Ambassador Prof. Akbar Ahmed.  In our explorations of what it means to be American, we had played host to many distinguished visitors who eloquently addressed us; Ms. Soetoro-Ng, in my opinion, now tops the list, and I only wish she taught in DC.

Now, follow this closely: Ms. Soetoro-Ng is an Indonesian-American born in Indonesia to a mostly-Unitarian woman from Kansas, and spent parts of her childhood in Hawai’i before falling in love with salsa and meringue and deciding to learn Spanish.  She now identifies as Buddhist and is married to a Malaysian-Chinese-Canadian-American. Continue reading

Story on “Journey into America”

From American University’s American Today, here is a story by Mike Unger on our project  featured on the front page of american.edu

What is the American identity?

AU professor and renowned Islamic scholar Akbar Ahmed poses that seemingly simple, yet impossibly complex question at the beginning of Journey Into America, a new documentary film chronicling his nine-month, 75-city tour of the country.

Read the rest here.

Interview on Al Jazeera

We were interviewed for “The Riz Khan Show” on Al Jazeera last week. We had a blast at the interview and visiting with Riz and his production team. The show is airing today and is already up on YouTube.

It was a lot of fun and a little intimidating being interviewed for such a huge show. Riz Khan is a star and Al Jazeera English is accessible in 120 million households worldwide from Africa to Europe to China. It’s unfortunately only on the internet in the US.  Al Jazeera is available in China but not in the two largest democracies in the world, the US and India. Go figure.

Parts 1 and 2 are below.

Dean Louis Goodman: American Identity from a Jewish Perspective

By Craig Considine – Frankie and I met Dean Louis Goodman in his office at the School of International ServiceAmerican University on a Friday afternoon.  Our conversation began with our most frequently asked question: what is American identity?  The Dean’s response was a unique one.  His notion of it is rooted in his Jewish American heritage.  His family came over from Europe in the 19th century and worked diligently in the community to create prosperous businesses.  His grandfather, he noted, was a prominent politician in New York City that was dedicated to the NAACP and to civil rights for all Americans, not just Jews.  The most interesting part of this conversation is the Dean’s thoughts on the Jewish community in America today.  Secondly, he also offers some interesting ideas on Muslims in America while simultaneously comparing this ethnic group with his people, the Jews.

In my opinion, Dean Goodman is an American dedicated to the preservation of the ideals laid forth in the constitution.  America was not meant for just White Anglo Saxon Protestants but rather all people from around the world.  The beauty of America is its openness in accepting different cultural norms and values.  Without the continuation of these principles, America will lose its meaning and purpose as the one country in history dedicated to the acceptance and equality of all peoples.

Calling on the President in the ‘White House’

That’s the President of  American University, Dr. Cornelius Kerwin, in the ‘white house’ on campus, of course. We had the honor of visiting him in his office this week to meet with him and brief him on the status of the project and interview him as well.

He was very eloquent and spoke very highly of the project.  He congratulated us and called “Journey into America “likely to be one of the most definitive works to date on the Muslim experience in the United States”. High praise, for the project and for Ambassador Ahmed.

We were really happy to have that vote of confidence from the Big Man on Campus. Please see the video below for more.

Jonathan Hayden

“Waziristan to Washington: A Muslim at the Crossroads”

For those of you in DC tomorrow night, come out to American University for Ambassador Ahmed’s one man memior monologue “Waziristan to Washington” at 7:00 pm in the Katzen Arts Center.

Admission is free and it promises to be an excellent show. If you’re interested in the complexities of Pakistan, tribal culture and global Islam, then this is for you. Its dramatic and funny and easy to follow. I promise you won’t leave dissapointed.  

See the full details below: Continue reading

Interview with Noam Chomsky

In Boston, we had the honor of interviewing Professor Noam Chomsky, the “world’s top intellectual” according to the New York Times. I was extremely excited to meet him because I had studied his work in school and admired his courage for speaking his convictions on the global stage.


As I tried to find his office in a perplexing MIT building that appeared as though the fabric of reality had collapsed in on itself, I flashed back to a philosophy class I had taken at American University. The class, “Greatest Minds of the 20th Century” had spent a week on Chomsky’s work. This time we were not in his office to discuss linguistics or his groundbreaking refutation of B.F. Skinner’s work on behavioral psychology (although I did spy two of Skinner’s books on the shelf in Chomsky’s office) but American identity.

Continue reading