SOAS University of London

Journey into America: The challenge of Islam

Ambassador Akbar Ahmed
Professor Akbar Ahmed (American University), Craig Considine (Trinity), Dr Anshuman Mondal (Brunel) and Professor Peter Morey (UEL)

Date: 12 December 2012Time: 6:30 PM

Finishes: 12 December 2012Time: 8:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G2

Type of Event: Film


Journey into America is a groundbreaking and timely documentary that records Ambassador Akbar Ahmed and his team of American students as they travel to more than 100 mosques in cities, suburbs and towns across America. Journey into America brings the audience into the homes, schools and places of worship of Americans of all backgrounds in order to explore what it means to be American through the eyes of Muslims. The film portrays how many Muslim Americans have restored the faith of America's Founding Fathers, but it also goes beyond this to document how some Americans have lost sight of fundamental components of American identity such as tolerance, compassion and openness. 

The screening of Journey into America will be followed by a panel discussion.

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Trailer for "Journey into America"


Speaker biographies

Professor Akbar Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington DC, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a Visiting Professor at the US Naval Academic in Annapolis where he was the First Distinguished Chair of Middle East and Islamic Studies. He has taught at Princeton, Harvard, and Cambridge Universities and has been called "the world's leading authority on contemporary Islam" by the BBC. He is the author of over a dozen award-winning books, including Discovering Islam, which was the basis of a six-part BBC TV series called Living Islam, and the critically acclaimed Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization. His book Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam (Brookings Press, 2010), culminated in the full length documentary, Journey into America, and won the American Book Award for 2011. Two of his books were re-published in 2011 as part of the Routledge Revivals - "restoring to print books by
some of the most influential academic scholars of the last 120 years." Professor Ahmed published a book of verse, Suspended Somewhere Between in 2011, and his forthcoming book The Thistle and the Drone: How America's War on Terror became a Global War on Tribal Islam is to be published by Brookings Press in February 2013. The renowned American histories Professor Stanley Wolpert called him "the greatest scholar of Islam in America and the world… nobody else stands so high…he is the Dara Shikoh of modern Islamic leaders" (Pakistan Link, 30 December issue, 2011).

Craig Considine is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at Trinity College Dublin. He served as film director and research assistant to Ambassador Akbar Ahmed's unprecedented study of Muslim Americans, 'Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam'. Craig's film-work and photography have been vetted by CNN and his articles on issues relating to religion and American identity have been published in outlets such as The Huffington Post, Voice of America, Arab News, TheAmerican Muslim, and Common Ground, among many others. In September 2012, Craig created the One Film 9/11 interfaith initiative which has the goal of screening Journey into America around the Muslim and non-Muslim world on September 11th, 2013. Craig's doctoral research is exploring the experiences of young Pakistani men in Dublin, Ireland and Boston, Massachusetts. He's a native of Needham, Massachusetts.

Dr Anshuman Mondal is Reader in English and AHRC Research Fellow at Brunel University. He is the author of Young British Muslim Voices (2008) and several media articles on Muslim literature, culture and politics. He is currently working on an AHRC funded project on Muslim-related freedom of speech controversies.

Professor Peter Morey is Professor of English and Postcolonial Studies at the University of East London. He is the author of a number of books and articles, including 'Framing Muslims: Stereotype and Representation after 9/11' (Harvard University Press, 2011), was Principal Investigator of the AHRC funded Framing Muslims International Research Network (2007-2010) and is currently RCUK Global Uncertainties Leadership Fellow directing an international project on 'Muslims, Trust and
Cultural Dialogue'.

Reviews of the film

‘Journey to America is an essential pillar in the effort to build the interfaith bridge of understanding. It will inform, provoke, and inspire Americans of all colors, cultures, and faiths’. - U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison, first Muslim ever elected to House of Representatives 

‘Your project is very pleasing to God. It’s truly a work of God, your desire to bring together the people of the world to have a greater love and respect for one another’. - Archbishop Fiorenza, Archbishop of Catholic Diocese, Houston, Texas

‘This is very refreshing … to take away the fear of encountering those people (Muslims) in those places (mosques)… So to get in and to hear what’s in those people’s minds, it takes away the strangeness of it’. - Ingrid Mattson, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) 

‘Journey into America is a journey ensuring that we can see all of our American brothers and sisters, and see that they are indeed created in the image of God’. - Senior Rabbi Bruce Lustig, Washington Hebrew Congregation 

‘Journey into America - both in practice and presentation – reveals some of the newest and gravest chasms facing American society today, but also offers us stories of the generation building bridges across them’. - Eboo Patel, author and member of President Barack Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships

‘As an exercise in trying to persuade Americans that they have over-reacted to the trauma of 9/11, and that the proportion of American Muslims who want to take over the country is a tiny minority, this film is an undoubtedly worthwhile’. – Jonathan Benthall, former director of Royal Anthropological Institute 

‘Journey Into America makes an important contribution to challenging the simplistic shorthand that distorts our sense of reality… I encourage you to see Journey Into America for a powerful reminder of what the American experiment is all about’. - John Milewski, host of ‘Dialogue’ at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

‘The film gives an unbiased and unprecedented look into the lives of Muslim Americans. We heard stories of hope and compassion. The film is our contribution to education, understanding and dialogue’. - Jonathan Hayden, team member and assistant at Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.

Complete reviews can be found on One Film 9/11 website - No longer available (01/2014)

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