From the Daily Times, Yasser Latif Hamdani writes about Journey into America and Akbar Ahmed.
[…] Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam should be prescribed reading for all Pakistanis travelling to the US, especially for an education. It gives a remarkable account of identity formation in America, its numerous waves of immigration and also within the American Muslim subset, which are the subsets of two distinct large sets. Dr Ahmed’s journey, where he was accompanied by a team of enthusiastic researchers, is in many ways more monumental than the 19th century French politician and author Alexis De Tocqueville’s journey and work on the US, which seems to have inspired Dr Ahmed. Tocqueville had come from France at a time when the US had already inspired one revolution and a republic there. There was no gap there to bridge unlike the festering fistula that now separates the Muslim world and the US. Akbar S Ahmed seems to have dedicated his entire life to the cause. Continue reading here.
An interesting commentary on the debate from Adam Serwer at “The Plum Line“, a Washington Post blog:
Frank Gaffney is part of a group of conservatives who have been trying to mainstream the conspiracy theory that the United States is on the verge of a stealth Islamist takeover, a group that has recruited at least one high-profile convert in former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. A couple of days ago he appeared on Anderson Cooper’s show on CNN across from Former Pakistani Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Akbar Ahmed, who matter-of-factly explained that an Islamic takeover of the United States was a numerical impossibility. The Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman once described these theories as “nonsense.”
While Akbar Ahmed may have made Gaffney look paranoid and foolish on CNN, the frustrating reality is that more and more conservatives are finding his particular brand of paranoid Islamophobia persuasive.
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Tagged AC360, adl, Akbar Ahmed, anderson cooper, frank gaffney, Islam, murfreesboro, muslims, relisgion, ridiculous arguments, sharia
Watch the very interesting discussion with Anderson Cooper, Frank Gaffney, and Ambassador Akbar Ahmed on sharia, the absurdity of it taking over America, and the controversy at the Mosque construction in Murfreesboro.
AC 360 video is here.
Every single time we have had an event, lecture or public discussion, and hundreds of times through e-mail, we are asked to explain why “moderate” Muslim voices are not speaking up against the “extremists”, “jihadists”, “Islamofacists”, etc.
Of course, the premise of the question is that Muslims are not speaking up and the person asking wants to know why not. On the surface, it seems innocent and an obvious question. The person asking doesn’t see Muslims speaking out against it, doesn’t understand why not and therefore wonder if the silence means that all Muslims approve of the actions of the most extreme. But, it also means that we are not paying attention to the actions and sacrifices of the Muslim community.
It would be easy to blame the nature of the media. A story every time a Muslim individual or organization denounces terrorism, stands up for free speech or declares their patriotism is not exciting enough to be featured in the newspapers or on television.
I used to keep a list of examples of times individuals or organizations issued press releases condemning terrorism but I lost count in the hundreds. If you look, the statements are easy to find. On any Muslim organization website, you will find a section for these statements. In some cases, the organizations have gone above and beyond, even showing support for other religious organizations that were attacked, vandalized or smeared even when Muslims had nothing to do with the attack as in this case.
For those not impressed with statements, let us look at what people are doing on the ground. Professor Ahmed uses two great examples of how Muslims are giving their lives for the fight. In Pakistan for example, over 30,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives in he War on Terror. 30,000 people killed by the Taliban or in service of the US backed fight against the Taliban in Pakistan. How’s that for Muslims standing up to terror? Continue reading
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Tagged Akbar Ahmed, America, cair, cartoon, constitution, free speech, Islam, ISNA, matt ston, molly norris, Muslim, Religion, south park, terrorism, The american muslim, trey parker
A terrific interview with Professor Ahmed about Journey into America, his life’s work, Obama, politics, etc.
Dr. Akbar Ahmed, is currently the chair of the Islamic Studies Department, at American University in Washington DC. You may have seen him on The Daily Show, as a commentator on BBC, and even Oprah! His recent book, Journey Into America: The Challenge of Islam documents the Professor’s fieldwork visiting Muslims throughout the United States. Dr. Ahmed recognizes the challenges young Muslims face today and offers his guidance, wisdom, and support to the difficult yet exciting times ahead.
You are an ambassador, playwright, professor, author, amongst many other roles. Which one is your favorite?
My favorite role, which you haven’t mentioned, is of a poet, that’s one that is always left out. I’m just getting my poetry book published. The reason I mention poetry is because it’s something so personal. It really reflects who you are. I have been writing poetry for a long time, and it’s like I’m finally coming out of the closet.
Is it nerve-wracking to be considered a world authority on contemporary Islam?
It is nerve-wracking because people think you know everything. I’m just a constant student of the world around me. I’m surprised at human beings, their behavior and their capacity to create predicaments for themselves.
It is nerve-wracking because people ring up at an instant, especially over the last few years, they’ll request a comment on something that has happened in Bosnia, Chechnya, Kashmir, West Bank or here, in America. You have to, as an expert, constantly prepare.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Muslim youth today?
The biggest challenge is to clearly understand their identity. It’s a very exciting time to be a young Muslim because there is so much happening but it is also a time of confusion and anxiety. I have the highest respect and affection and regard for the young Muslims. I realize the scale of the challenge they face.
What do you think of President Obama’s outreach to the Muslim world? Do you think it will yield positive results?
I think his intentions were noble, and I applauded them though his follow up has been disappointing. He needs to match his actions to his rhetoric – to his vision.
Continue reading the interview here.
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Tagged Akbar Ahmed, elan, facebook, Islam, john stewart, Muslim, Obama, Religion, stephen colbert, twitter, youth
From Hearts and Minds Bookstore comes a warm review of Journey into America.
Read the full review here.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed it, it has made me think, it has made me wish to be in greater contact with folks outside of my own religious and cultural community, and it has reminded me that it is a very, very good question, namely, what does it mean to be an American? And can the story of American be told and construed in such a way that it upholds a dream not of a melting pot, but a beautiful mosaic or crazy quilt. Principled pluralism is what the old Dutch religious leader and politico Abraham Kuyper called it. Journey into America takes us back in history and offers a glimpse into the future. It is worth twice to the price to learn this stuff, and well worth the hours invested in reading through this lively, provocative work.”