An expert on Islam is joining the U.S. Naval Academy this fall. Akbar Ahmed, who is also a cultural anthropologist and the former high commissioner of Pakistan to Britain, will fill a new chair for Middle East Studies. He will teach courses, advise midshipmen and faculty, and assist in research projects. Ahmed has promoted interfaith relations through his many books, television appearances and public dialogues with Judea Pearl, the father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. He has also worked in film and documentary. His most recent book, published in 2007, is “Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization.”Ahmed previously taught at American, Princeton, Harvard and Cambridge universities.
According to his biography, Dr. Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington DC. and is frequently described as a prominent Islamic moderate who has received numerous awards and accolades. However, inconsistent with this characterization, Dr. Ahmed also has a long association with the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) established in 1980 by some of the most important figures in the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. Dr. Ahmed is also a member of the advisory board of the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, the publication of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists, another part of the U.S. Brotherhood and headquartered at IIIT .
The exact nature of Dr. Ahmed’s association with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood requires further analysis, but a brief review of his positions on suicide bombings indicate that he has staked out a position similar to that of Tariq Ramadan, a global Muslim Brotherhood leader and grandson of the Brotherhood’s founder, with whom he has jointly signed lat least one letter. That is, while condemning such terrorism as “un-Islamic”, Dr. Ahmed attempts to contextualize the phenomenon, blaming it on social/political circumstances rather than religious incitement. Also, when presented with opportunities to condemn Muslim Brotherhood leaders such as Youssef Qaradawi who provide theological justification for suicide attacks, Dr. Ahmed noticeably fails to denounce such individuals by name.
Previous posts have discussed possible antisemitic comments by Dr. Ahmed, his role in promoting new language about counter-terrorism at DHS, and his position at a Michigan think-tank linked to many other members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.