Akbar Ahmed’s book praised
WASHINGTON: Three university professors, including Dr Akbar Ahmed the Pakistani academic and author, were honoured for their recent books at a well-attended ceremony at the American University on Tuesday.
Singled out for praise was Dr Ahmed’s book ‘Islam under Siege’. Speaking on the occasion, the author said there was need to understand the Muslim world with scholarship and sympathy. He pointed out that Ibn Khaldun’s idea of “asabbya” or group loyalty had become hyper-asabbya or excessive group loyalty in the present-day world. People now gave loyalty to their group, tribe or sect, and not to ideas of right and wrong. This was affecting societies across the world because of globalisation.
Dr Ahmed said today questions were being raised about Islam’s compatibility with democracy. However, the answer to that question had been provided over half a century ago by the Pakistan Movement, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The Islamic world needed today to rediscover the ideals that fired the imagination of the Muslims of India at that time, bringing them together in a mass popular movement that led to the establishment of Pakistan in 1947. Dr Ahmed also emphasised, as he has been doing lately, the need for inter-faith dialogue and understanding. He said the three great faiths – Islam, Judaism and Christianity – had a common forbear and it was what they shared that was important rather than what they differed about. The embassy of Pakistan was represented by its deputy head. Prof Nanette Levinson of the American University in a message to Prof Ahmed after the event said, “Congratulations on the special honour of being highlighted by the American University ‘Celebrating Scholarship’ event today.”