Tag Archives: Pakistan

Daily Times editorial on “Journey into America”

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.

Watch Ambassador Ahmed’s speech from the Pentagon today live at 10 a.m.

Watch live-streaming video of the August Army Leader Forum

From www.army.mil:

Join Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Chair of Islamic Studies at American University and former High Commissioner of Pakistan to Great Britain, at the next Army Leader Forum. Ambassador Ahmed’s lecture is titled, “The U.S., the Afghanistan-Pakistan Theater and the Way Forward.”

During 2008 and 2009, Ahmed was on sabbatical and conducted a study of American society through the experiences of the Muslim community. He toured the United States with his American assistants and their journey with accompanying film footage can be seen in the film, “Journey Into America,” and read in the book, “Journey Into America: The Challenge of Islam.”

When/Where: Monday, Aug. 2, 2010, from 11 a.m. to noon, Pentagon Auditorium, Room BH650.

The Army Leader Forum is an open forum developed to keep Army officers, civilians and their Defense-related counterparts/associates current on Army initiatives and issues. The forum provides a broad variety of topics and is a platform for reciprocal Office of the Secretary of Defense and Joint Staff briefings. Initiated by the Director of the Army Staff, the forum began in 2003 and is coordinated and executed by The Army’s Executive Outreach Office.

To view the live stream of the presentation, click HERE.

Video of Middle East Institute Event

“It is my great pleasure this morning to welcome Dr. Akbar Ahmed here at the Middle East Institute. He is an old friend of mine and a supporter and we are honored to have the chance to launch his latest book Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam…this is one of the groundbreaking studies done, no one to date had gotten into the mosques and the communities to the extent that he has…please join me in welcoming my friend Dr. Akbar Ahmed.”

-Ambassador Wendy Chamberlain, President, Middle East Institute, former US Ambassador to Pakistan, and Deputy UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Continue reading

New Washington Post On Faith Article on Swat, Pakistan

The article below originally appeared on The Washington Post On Faith website by Akbar Ahmed.

Compassion in Taliban territory

If you were a Swati and lived in that idyllic land and were suddenly forced to leave your home to seek shelter outside the district ,and then saw the destruction of your beloved home first by the violence of the Taliban and then the violence of the Pakistan army in their attempt to defeat the Taliban, you would be either dismayed or angry. You would argue that neither Swatis nor Pakistanis were involved in the events on 9/11 but the unfolding developments since that tragic day have directly or indirectly shattered your life.

I have just received a letter from Swat written by Zebunissa Jilani, my sister-in-law. Last year, she organized a trip to work among Swat refugees with my wife Zeenat, and their respective daughters, Zahra and Nafees after they opened the Swat Relief Initiative specifically to help refugees.

The girls did exemplary work among the refugees including the distribution of desperately needed medical supplies and equipment. But they observed the dire condition of the Swati population living in tents and makeshift accommodation in the Frontier Province. This was Taliban territory and the Taliban were targeting their families having killed several cousins. While the women were seen as a threat by the Taliban, for the ordinary Swati refugees they were a ray of hope. As they belonged to the royal family of Swat, their presence in the midst of the dire poverty and chaos allowed the people to rally around their own heritage and traditions.

These women were driven by the idea that charity and compassion are more powerful than the hatred and anger that had devastated Swat. While charity and compassion are seen as quintessentially Christian values that have driven millions of Christians to acts of kindness, these same virtues are at the core of Islam also. The Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet emphasize charity and compassion again and again. In Islam, God’s two greatest attributes are compassion and mercy and the Prophet clearly said that mercy must always trump anger.

These women had unknowingly introduced a new method of fighting the men of violence in their region. They were using the power of their own religion, Islam, in their acts of charity and above all giving people hope of an alternative vision of humanity to the violence that has prevailed.

This summer Zebu, tireless and courageous in her desire to help the population has gone to Swat by herself. She has left her comfortable suburban life and family in Princeton to work in the sweltering heat and challenging conditions of Swat. From her vantage point, she is able to give an unvarnished picture of what is actually going on there that should concern all of us. In her letter she writes: Continue reading

Hearts and Minds: Tale of 2 generals in Afghanistan

The following article by Akbar Ahmed was first published on the Washington Post “On Faith” website.

With the rumors of secret meetings between Gen.l Kayani, commander of Pakistan’s armed forces, Gen. Pasha, the head of the Pakistani ISI, Afghan president Hamid Karzi, and prominent Taliban commander Haqqani, it seems that a post-American scenario in Afghanistan is taking shape.

The fact that Haqqani was in the company of the President of Afghanistan is a hint of the shape of things to come as the major players in the region plan for an eventual withdrawal of US forces.

Perhaps the catalyst for these meetings was the dismissal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Fortunately for America, he is being replaced by one of the country’s best military men, Gen. David Petraeus.

Despite President Obama’s contention that U.S. policy in Afghanistan remain the same despite the change of commanders, the reality is the differences between the two men will ensure a different approach. Although both field commanders have been successful in establishing a rapport with Afghans, McChrystal tends to rely on his heart, Petraeus falls back on his mind. The former understands and plays on emotion, the latter intellect.

But McChrystal and Petraeus are rare birds. Few Americans see the world as they do. Continue reading

“Journey into America” reviews in The News and The National Cathedral

Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, former envoy to the US and the UK from Pakistan, and a former editor of The News, Pakistan writes a wonderful review of the book.

Dr Akbar Ahmed’s latest book Journey into America: the Challenge of Islam is timely, important and audacious. It is a remarkably perceptive account of the Muslim experience in post-9/11 America. In the portrayal of the six- to seven- million-strong Muslim community and its encounter with mainstream American society, the study examines the mutual fears as well as common aspirations in the context of a challenged national identity. Read the full review here.

And Rev. Carol Flett reviews Journey into America for the Washington National Cathedral.

There are many reasons that one should read Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam by Dr. Akbar Ahmed. The book will open your eyes and hearts into the lives of Muslim Americans. You will learn aspects of American history you may not have known before and aspects of present American society of which you are probably not aware. Read the full review here.

Journey into America news and update

We have been absent from posting lately due to the (sometimes overwhelming) task of writing and editing the book, but we are done. We are really excited about the contents–nine chapters divided into three parts: 1) American Identity 2) Islam in America and 3) Adjusting and Adapting.

First a reboot: We set out in September of 2008 with a team of six. Led by Professor Akbar Ahmed, the team consisted of Frankie Martin, Hailey Woldt, Craig Considine, Madeeha Hameed and Jonathan Hayden. We set out to discover America, it’s history and culture, and–of course–where Islam fits in. It was quite a journey, taking us to over 75 cities, big and small, across the vast continent. We spoke to people of all backgrounds, ranging from BosniansKurds, and African Americans in over 100 mosques in Muslim communities.  Jews, Mennonites, Mormons , atheists and more in non-Muslim communities. We spoke to scholars and activists, religious leaders and administrators, uncovered history and spoke to converts. We heard heartwarming stories and learned of struggle and disappointment. We traveled and traveled and came back home to DC to write the book and finish make the film.We had a lot of loyal followers on the blog and got a lot of coverage from the media, causing a minor stir in Alabama and breaking a story in Nebraska.  The film is out (trailer can be seen here) and has been screened across the world (in Australia, France and Pakistan) at Universities, religious institutions and film festivals and is being translated into Arabic and Persian. Continue reading

Two articles

One from last month on a Christian Pastor observing Ramadan. Read it here.

And an extended interview from Anthropology Today with on Swat in Pakistan. Download the pdf of “Swat in the eye of the Storm”.

Akbar Ahmed article on Afghanistan: “America has yet to grasp the cost of losing in Afghanistan”

An op-ed from The Guardian about Obama/McChrystal and whether the US should send more troops into Afghanistan.

General Stanley McChrystal has all but admitted defeat in Afghanistan. Unless he gets an additional 40,000 troops, the game is up. Unusually for a commanding officer in the middle of a war, the US commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan has gone public with his thoughts. Equally unusual, he is pleading for a “new strategy“. His appeal falls on strangely deaf American ears. Polls confirm that more than half of the US public have no interest in staying on in Afghanistan. Barack Obama, who had begun his presidency emphasising the importance of Afghanistan and Pakistan, appears increasingly like an articulate but absent–minded professor. He needs to be a much more involved commander-in-chief. His Nato partners are already wobbling and will soon increase pressure to pull out troops altogether.

The enormous cost of losing in Afghanistan is yet to dawn on the American public. Should the US and Nato withdraw, neighbouring regional powers such as Russia, China and Iran will rush to fill the vacuum. None of them will be friendly to US interests in the region. Pakistanis who already harbour considerable resentment towards America, feeling much like jilted lovers, may be pushed over the brink into fully fledged anti-Americanism. It is well to remind ourselves that Pakistan is nuclear.

To continue reading the article, please click here.

New article and NPR’s ‘Talk of the Nation’

Please see “Will my Books in Swat Survive?” by Ambassador Ahmed in the Huffington Post. This is a terrific piece and a personal one on the Taliban’s recent movements in the Swat region of Pakistan.

Also, Ambassador Ahmed was a guest today on ‘Talk of the Nation’ with host Neal Conan. It was an excellent show that allowed time for an analysis of what is happening and why. I recommend listening if you are interested in the region. Here is the direct link to the audio.