Dr Akbar Ahmed to be Honored by Jewish and Christian Congregations

New York:  Dr. Akbar Ahmed, named “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam” by the BBC, will receive the Heschel-King Award for Interfaith Activism from the joint congregations of the Park Avenue Christian Church and the Temple of Universal Judaism at a special interfaith service on Monday, January 19, 2009, in New York.
The award, established in 1996, honors the friendship of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched arm in arm at Selma, prayed together in protest at Arlington National Cemetery, and stood side by side in the pulpit of Riverside Church. Each year it has honored prominent leaders who have continued the work of Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel.
Dr. Ahmed is a former High Commissioner of Pakistan to Great Britain and adviser to Prince Charles and George W. Bush. An award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker, he teaches Islamic Studies at both the US Naval Academy and American University in Washington, DC.
An advocate for peace and intercultural understanding, Dr. Ahmed has spent the last year crisscrossing the United States to conduct a study of American society as seen through Muslim eyes. He and his student team are blogging about their experiences, collecting information for a new book “Journey Into America.”
Dr. Ahmed explains his mission: “It is essential that we create, by any and all means, a process of mutual understanding and dialogue. To meet the challenge is to fulfill God’s vision; to embrace all humanity in doing so is to know God’s compassion. Without dialogue, knowledge and friendship, human society will face a more dangerous, violent and uncertain future.”
Dr. Ahmed will be presented with the Heschel-King Award by Rev. Dr. Alvin O’Neal Jackson and Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, the congregations’ spiritual leaders. The service is a unique opportunity for the members of three faiths -- Christian, Jewish, and Muslim -- to join together in a spirit of friendship and hope. Dr. Ahmed will speak on the Muslim experience in, and of, America. The evening will also include a special interfaith prayer service for President-Elect Barack Obama, who will be sworn into office the next day.




Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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