“Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration and Identity”
As far back as 1996, the distinguished scholar W. Montgomery Watt described Dr Akbar Ahmed as ‘a contemporary spokesman for Islam’. That epithet remains apt even now but, based on the sum total of his writings and work, he is widely respected today as an anthropologist, teacher, researcher, scholar in comparative religion, a committed public intellectual promoting inter-faith harmony and a leading authority on contemporary Islam.
“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State . . . We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens, and equal citizens, of one State. “
March 23rd, 1940 marks a singular milestone in the history of Muslims of South Asia. It was truly a momentous occasion. At Lahore’s Manto Park, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah rejected a permanent communal minority status for Indian Muslims. Instead, he demanded full-fledged nationhood and a separate country.
This piece is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of the new book, “Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity”.
Chapter 1 – Europe: Turbulent and Mighty Continent
by AKBAR AHMED
“In that encounter in the gloomy basement in Athens, I witnessed the problems of Europe today. I saw the need to conduct a detailed study of Europe based on fieldwork to look at precisely these issues. I saw the desperate need to discover a paradigm or method for the future that would allow Europe’s different cultures and peoples to understand one another better in order to live together in peace and harmony. To do so, we needed to locate an effective conceptual frame for our study in the context of the social sciences. I thus consulted the scholars who could best guide us.”