Message from the Dean


Professor Leif Stenberg

Dean, Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations​


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2022 marks the 20th anniversary of AKU-ISMC’s inauguration by His Highness, Aga Khan IV. This year includes a range of events which showcase what AKU-ISMC is all about.  Our focus is the study of Muslim cultures and contexts across the diverse societies of the world, past and present. It is through world-leading research​, publications, education​, and outreach ​that we contribute to public discourse; enabling both citizens and leaders to address complex challenges and to shape the world around them.​

I am therefore delighted to begin the New Year with the news that AKU-ISMC has been awarded two endowed chairs. We are very grateful for the generosity of our donors who made this possible. In December 2021, Professor Jonas Otterbeck​ became the holder of the Rasul-Walker Chair in Popular Culture in Islam, and Professor Philip Wood became the holder of the Tejpar Chair in Interreligious Studies. Professor Wood ​and I recently published the joint volume What is Islamic Studies, and Professor Otterbeck released The Awakening of Islamic Pop Music in full Open Access. Our esteemed colleague, Farouk Topan, was also awarded an Emeritus Professorship in December 2021.​​

At present, due to the Omicron COVID situation we are not able to hold in-person events at the Aga Khan Centre. However, our wide range of online short-courses continue, with plenty of tic​​kets available. At AKU-ISMC, we are committed to educating active and engaged citizens who approach the world with an appreciation of the pluralism and complexity that underpins all our outreach activities. These themes run through our Winter Programme on ‘Gender in Muslim Contexts’, and our annual Summer Programme ​on ‘Islam and Muslims in the Modern World’, jointly organised with Copenhagen University and scheduled for June 2022. ​​

At its heart, AKU-ISMC is a research-focused institution driven by the belief that academic enquiry and education can enable understanding and positive social change. Informed by the wider work of AKDN, we foster vital connections with the diverse Muslim societies of the world for the benefit of many.​

Our work has always been supported by the generosity of others through donations and endowments. If you would like to learn more about how to support AKU-ISMC, please contact resource.development@aku.edu​.

I wish you all the best of health, and thank you for your continued support which will allow AKU-ISMC to thrive and prosper in its 20th Anniversary year. ​