M. A. Muqtedar Khan

M. A. Muqtedar Khan
Dr. M. A. Muqtedar Khan
Occupation Associate Professor, University of Delaware, Muslim Intellectual, Writer, Reformer and Political Commentator

Dr. M. A. Muqtedar Khan (born 1966) [محمد عبد المقتدر خان] is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science, a Sufi and International Relations at the University of Delaware. He is also the founding Director of the Islamic Studies Program at the University of Delaware. Prior to that he was Chair of the Department of Political Science and the Director of International Studies at Adrian College. He was a Non-resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution from 2003-2008. He earned his Ph.D. in international relations, political philosophy, and Islamic political thought, from Georgetown University in May 2000.

He is a well known Muslim intellectual, whose articles and columns are widely published. He is a proponent of social change regarding treatment of women in some Islamic societies, but identifies himself as both traditional as well as liberal. In a sense he is a traditional scholar when it comes to issues of faith, but a liberal on topics such as democracy in the Islamic world, the place of women in society and on pluralism.[citation needed]

He advocates freedom of thought and independent thinking, and he states that it is the inability of Muslims to sustain a dialogue with time and text that sometimes makes Islamic teachings look anachronistic or even intolerant.[1]

Khan is an important voice on US foreign policy in the Muslim World. He has testified at hearings hosted by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee [2] and the US House Armed Forces Committee.[3]

Khan is also a Fellow of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. He has been the President, Vice President and General Secretary of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists.

In October 2008 he was awarded the Sir Syed Ahmed Khan Award for service to Islam by the Aligarh University Alumni.

Khan maintains two websites that archive his short articles. They are "Ijtihad" and "Glocaleye". He also writes for the "On Faith Forum of Washington Post and Newsweek".

Khan frequently comments on BBC, CNN, FOX, VOA TV, NPR and other radio and TV networks. His political commentaries appear regularly in newspapers in over 20 countries. He has also lectured in North America, East Asia, Middle East and Europe .

Khan is from Hyderabad, India. He is married to Reshma and has a son Rumi, and a daughter Ruhi.


Praise and controversy

Khan is admired by some for his critical thinking and for advancing a more moderate and liberal vision of Islam.[citation needed] He claims to be critical of radicalism and narrow conservatism within Islamic thought and also critical of Western foreign policies, racism and Islamophobia in the U.S. and the West.[4] He is considered a rising star among Muslim intellectuals by some.[5] Khan has also evoked considerable controversy as a result of some of his statements. Several years ago some Shi'a Muslims took strong exception to his comments regarding Ayatollah Sistani, where he compared him to Saddam Hussein, and suggested that Sistani was a dictator.

The US-led invasion of Iraq may have replaced an overt and brutal dictatorship by Saddam Hussein with a covert and subtle dictatorship by the Marja-e-Taqleed, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani—the highest-ranking Shiite authority on the planet.[6]

He is however widely respected in the Shia community and has frequently given keynote addresses at various Shia annual conventions in New York and Washington DC. Khan raised the ire of some[7] when he said in an email that he was unsure if he would be comfortable sitting on a panel about anti-Americanism in the Middle East with the last minute addition to the lineup, Asaf Romirowsky, an Israeli Defense Force veteran and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. He later claimed that this was written in jest. While the event was taking place at the University of Delaware, it was being run by College Republicans and College Democrats. The College Republicans encouraged Romirowsky to be the main speaker at a later venue. Romirowsky declined this opportunity. Interestingly Khan has participated on another panel that included an Israeli Defense Force Veteran at the Wilmington Friends School.[8]

Critical Muslims, a blog that seeks to introduce alternate voices from the Muslim World describes Khan as a thinker in the mold of Fazlur Rahman. "Combining an intimate familiarity of the Islamic heritage with a equal solid knowledge of Western scholarship in the human sciences, these newly emerging thinkers neverthless present a variety of viewpoints. Representative of this strand of thought are the jurist Khaled Abou el Fadl, who teaches at the UCLA Law School. the political scientist Muqtedar Khan, and Hamza Yusuf Hanson, who founded the Zaytuna Institute in California."[9]


"America is without doubt one of the greatest countries in the World. Because it assumes we are moral beings and capable of doing good -- we are free. And because America assumes we are mature and capable of self governance -- we have democracy." [10]

"When I look at Islamic sources, I find in them unprecedented examples of religious tolerance and inclusiveness. They make me want to become a better person. I think the capacity to seek good and do good inheres in all of us. When we subdue this predisposition towards the good, we deny our fundamental humanity".[11]

In an article published in the Washington Post Khan told Bin Laden to "Go to Hell". In the same article he also wrote "Before we rush to condemn America we must remember that even today millions of poor and miserable people all across the world are lining up outside US embassies eager to come to America, not just to live here but to become an American. No Muslim country today, can claim that people of other nations and other faiths see it as a promise of hope, equality, dignity and prosperity." [12]

Khan recounted, "I remember telling my wife; maybe I will be our Henry Kissinger, the first Muslim to become the Secretary of State. Then came Bin Laden and his bloody men and along with the World Trade Center, American Muslim dreams and aspirations came crashing down."[13]

"Unlike the present day Islamists, Prophet Muhammad, when he established the first Islamic state in Medina – actually a Jewish-Muslim federation extended to religious minorities the rights that are guaranteed to them in the Quran. Prophet Muhammad’s Medina was based on the covenant of Medina, a real and actual social contract agreed upon by Muslims, Jews and others that treated them as equal citizens of Medina. They enjoyed the freedom to choose the legal system they wished to live under. Jews could live under Islamic law, or Jewish law or pre-Islamic Arab tribal traditions. There was no compulsion in religion even though Medina was an Islamic state. The difference between Medina and today’s Islamic states is profound. The state of Medina was based on a real social contract that applied divine law but only in consultation and with consent of all citizens regardless of their faith. But contemporary Islamic states apply Islamic law without consent or consultation and often through coercion. It is a sad commentary on contemporary Islamists that while democracy is a challenge to contemporary Islamic states, it was constitutive to the first Islamic state in Medina established by the Prophet of Islam." [14]



  • American Muslims: Bridging Faith and Freedom (ISBN 1-59008-012-2, Amana, 2002).
  • Jihad for Jerusalem: Identity and Strategy in International Relations (ISBN 0-275-98014-6, Praeger, 2004).
  • Islamic Democratic Discourse: Theory, Debates, and Philosophical Perspectives (ISBN 0-7391-0645-7, Lexington Books, 2006).
  • Debating Moderate Islam: The Geopolitics of Islam and the West, (ISBN 0874809010, University of Utah Press, 2007).

External links

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