Student Profiles​


The Aga Khan University alumni foundation, founded in 1993, is the key method by which AKU alumni remain in contact with each other and the University. The Alumni Association consists of the North American Chapter in USA and the European Chapter in UK  and Central Office at the Karachi Campus.   On graduation, our international student body student body develop the skills and experience they have gained at ISMC in a range of careers and postgraduate work including careers in journalism, human rights and civil rights, post doctoral reseach at prestigious institutes including Princeton, Oxford and SOAS.   Explore the case studies below to get a glimpse of how the ISMC experience has affected these graduates. 

Aliya Mamod​aly, France
“The MA in Muslim Cultures is unique as its approach is both theoretical and practical. It enables students to gain a greater understanding of the intricacies and dynamics at play and allows one to take a holistic approach. Not only is this programme academically fulfilling, it is personally enriching.”

Aliya holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences with honours in International Development and Globalisation from the University of Ottawa. During her undergraduate degree, Aliya had the opportunity to volunteer her time with Youth Challenge International (YCI) in Nicaragua, Mataglapa assisting with various development projects. For two years she worked as research assistant at The Muki Baum Treatment Centre for individuals with physical and emotional disabilities. Aliya has also been involved in various volunteer activities, facilitating religious education for young people, working with autistic children and assisting in women's development activities in her local community.

Razi Allah Lone, Pakistan
“The multidisciplinary nature of the MA programme at AKU-ISMC, coupled with the great diversity of both the student cohort and London, makes the whole experience int​ellectually engaging and culturally enriching. It not only opens up new ways of thinking, but develops an appreciation for differing points of view.”

 Razi has Masters degree in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Arlington and a Master of Business Administration from the Lahore School of Economics. Razi hopes that the rigorous MA Programme will define his doctoral ambitions in the areas of Islamic law, in general, and Hadith studies, in particular. He has contributed to the Encyclopaedia of Islamic Economics, read a paper on Riba (interest) at a conference in Kuala Lumpur, and served in the Islamic banking research-wing of an investment bank in Pakistan. Most recently, he was working as an Assistant Professor in the department of Management Sciences at the National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences, Lahore.​

Omar Kasmani, Pakistan

"ISMC will always be home. It is here that I made my first transitions from architecture to the social sciences, acquired the academic tools to read, write and imagine in new and plural ways, and in the process discovered, more importantly, the coordinates that situate me in relation to experiences of my own history and society. Being embedded in the urban and cultural fabric of London added to the richness of it all. In these and so many other ways, my time at ISMC has shaped and will continue to inform my trajectories, academic and otherwise.”

Omar is a Doctoral Candidate in Social and Cultural Anthropology at Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, Free University of Berlin.

Megan Wang, USA
“I liked the diversity of AKU-ISMC. Having the opportunity to live and study alongside students from all over the world was an amazing learning experience. Even though we may have come from vastly different intellectual and cultural backgrounds we all seemed to possess a similar spirit; a spirit that not only genuinely respected our 'differences' but celebrated them. 

The MA in Muslim Cultures taught me how to ask better questions, questions whose answers matter, whose answers tell us more about the world we live in. Is Islam incompatible with modernity? The​ question is flawed. Whose Islam? What exactly do I mean here when I use the term modernity? A better question to ask would be why and under what conditions is Islam thought to be incompatible with modernity.

I would whole-heartedly recommend this MA to anyone with a passion for Middle Eastern/Islamic studies and an adventurous, respectfully curious disposition. It's a gruelling two years but by the end of it you'll have grown immensely. More importantly, you will have noticed this same growth in your classmates and you will know that you were part of something beautiful and powerful, something real.” 

Megan received her Bachelor of Arts from New York University, completing a double major in both International Relations and Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies.

“The rich diversity of Muslim cultures within wider cultures of the globe is reflected very well in every aspect of the unique intellectual experience at AKU-ISMC.”​

 Firas completed his Bachelor of Arts in Arabic English Translation from Al​baath University, Syria. Prior to this he volunteered for a United Nations human rights organisation. Firas has various academic interests including politics, cultures and religious studies; he is attracted to explore the term "differentiation" and its further implications, particularly, in these fields. Firas speaks Arabic and English. His hobbies range from running and cycling to listening to classical music. 

Fatemeh Shams Esmaeili

“ISMC has been one of the most unforgettable phases of my life. I made life-long friends here, and read some of the best books. Encountering scholars from many parts of the world and taking part in various events “greatly changed my life, my direction, my vision, my future.”

Fatemeh recently completed a PhD in the field of Oriental Studies, with specific focus on Iranian Studies and Persian literature, at the University of Oxford. ​

Samira Rakh​imova, Tajikistan, Class of 2012 ​

"I hope that MA in Muslim Cultures will equip me with practical and theoretical knowledge of approaching and researching problems in Muslim communities. Also, I'm keen to study religion from the standpoint of the humanities and social sciences. The MA in Muslim Cultures will enable me to narrow down my particular research area in the sphere of tradition and culture and prepare a basis for pedagogical potential of universities in Tajikistan".

Samira completed a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the Russian Tajik Slavonic University (Tajikistan) and a Master of Arts in the Theory and Practice of Human Rights from the University of Essex (UK). Since 2006, she has been teaching in the Aga Khan Humanities Project/University of Central Asia and previously worked in the fields of child protection and human rights in international organizations and NGOs in Tajikistan. Samira has published an article entitled, "Survey on Employment Practices and Labor Laws Affecting Children" (IOM Publication) and co-authored and published a book, "The Language of Human Rights" (OSI). She also participated in drafting of the guideline and training module for journalists on children with disabilities (NGO "Zdorovie") and in preparing a manual for teaching a course for the Aga Khan Humanities Project entitled, Identifying Civil Society. 

Mehr J Aga Canada/Pakistan, Class of 2010​

"I am enthralled to be a member of the AKU-ISMC family. I am also keen on studying in such a culturally and academically rich institute, where everyone works together amiably and productively. The staff and ad​ministration compassionately welcome and treat you like a family member."

Mehr completed her undergraduate degree in applied psychology and is also primarily interested in sociological and anthropological studies. She is interested in interacting with diverse social circles, particularly within a multicultural domain. She speaks English, Urdu and Punjabi, and is now learning Arabic to facilitate her understanding of the dynamics of Muslim cultures.

Yudi Faisal, Indonesia, Class of 2012 ​

"The MA in Muslim Cultures at AKU-ISMC provides a holistic programme for those who want to study intrinsic values that enhanced Muslim civilisations throughout history in many areas including economy. I am honoured to be a part in this programme that provides an outstanding academic atmosphere to strengthen my academic career."

Yudi completed his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Udayana and his Postgraduate Diploma in Islamic Banking and Finance from the IIBF-International Islamic University Malaysia. Since 2008, he has been teaching at several universities in Indonesia.

Hamza Tebai, Tunisia, Class of 2012​

"I once read that the aim of AKU-ISMC is to develop leaders in social and cultural realms so they contribute to building a new image about Muslim societies and save the most precious heritage they have. With all that the Institute is providing for its MA students, I can hardly think that there is another place on earth that is as promising as AKU-ISMC with such a finely woven programme that ensures what the Institute promises."

Hamza acquired his Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from the University 7th November in Carthage, Higher Institute of Languages, Tunis. In 2003 he completed his national degree in Arabic music and obtained a diploma of Arabic music. Since then, he has taught piano and music theory in several conservatories across Tunisia; most notably, the school of modern music Django Reinhardt.​

Nazim Aman, Pakistan, Class of 2010 

''AK​​U-ISMC is one of the best institutions in the world that promote scholarship on Muslim societies and cultures, exploring their relevance, commonalities, and differences to other world cultures and civilizations. It is an excellent platform which promises to help actualise student's intellectual potential, and an institution which is committed to facilitate intellectual discussion and debate."

Nazim has previously worked as Assistant Manager, Human Resources, Establishment Division within the National Space Agency of Pakistan (Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission). He has also worked as a visiting faculty member at the University of Karachi for two years, and has taught a course on Development Strategies at the Department of Public Administration.

Lindsey Stephenson​, USA, Class of 2012​

"The MA in Muslim Cultures is unlike any other Masters programme I have found. It appreciates the transnational and trans-regional cultures of Muslims and encourages us to​ explore the junctures at which sociology, anthropology, history and art converge.”  

Lindsey is currently completing a PhD in Near East Studies at Princeton University, USA.​ She is a graduate of Georgia State University with Bachelor of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies. She studied abroad in Jordan and Syria and completed a Fulbright research fellowship in Kuwait on the evolution of Kuwaiti diwaniyyas (social gatherings). Lindsey has taught colloquial Levantine Arabic at the high school level and was the Assistant Director of Human Resources for the Fawakih Arabic and Islamic Studies Programme.

Kamran Bashir, Pakistan

"The MA in Muslim Cultures at AKU-ISMC offers a perfect coursework and research agenda for anybody who aims to pursue doctoral research in the field of 'Islamic studies' and allied disciplines which is my ultimate goal. There seem to be limitless opportunities to hone your academic skills in arts and humanities." -

Kamran earned his Master in Business Administration from the University of the Punjab, Lahore. He worked as a marketing and sales professional in one of the leading industrial companies of Pakistan, also undertaking additional professional coursework at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. He holds a diploma in Arabic from the Oriental College of the University of Punjab.

Yamama Dayoub​, Syria
"The MA in Muslim Cultures will enrich my own experience by studying different Muslim cultures and lifestyles along with their literature and history; I am very keen about this. The more I gain knowledge in this field, the more enthusiastic I become to know more. I am also eager to learn a new language which will widen my horizons and enable me to understand new ways of thinking. This knowledge becomes addictive and I think this programme will satisfy this addiction."

Yamama completed her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Damascus University in 2007. She worked as an English language teacher in public schools from 2006 to 2008. She also worked as a translator in the billing system for GFA in Damascus in 2010.

Rahina Muazu, Nigeria

'I lack the right words to describe my experiences at ISMC. It was there that I learned to think about ideas foreign to me, at ISMC I discovered the variety of Muslim cultures and societies and learned to appreciate the formation of Islam from various cultures and traditions. I learned to read and write academic papers and appreciate other approaches to the study of Islam and Muslim societies. The diversity of my cohort made it much more interesting. I would recommend the MA to anyone interested in the study of Muslim cultures especially those from a traditional Islamic studies background like me because the MA will definitely offer them various approaches, they will have insight on how Islam and Muslims are studied from historical, anthropological and sociological perspectives, even more importantly, they will familiarise themselves with critical and controversial debates and discourses that are only available in Western academia. I must confess, it was very challenging for me, but at the end of it, I came out a much better person.''

Rahina is from Nigeria. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Islamic Studies from the University of Jos, Nigeria. Rahina has a great passion for African women and children. She speaks three languages: Hausa, English and Arabic.  Rahina is currently pursuing a PhD at Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (BGSMCS), Free University of Berlin.

 Ladan Heravi, Iran
"The reason I have decided to switch my disciplinary emphasis in graduate school from Physics to Muslim cultures is related to both my personal interest and a sense of responsibility to my society. The MA in Muslim Culture gives me an opportunity to see Islam in its social background. It also provides me with a modern and multifaceted approach to the study of Muslim societies. Moreover, the study of Arabic, which is the language of the early Islamic scriptures, undoubtedly provides a unique opportunity for me to understand Islam in its historical background."

Zohaib Zuby, Pakistan, Class of 2012​
"I think the only way one can bring any useful input into the society is through quality education, and this programme is a rare opportunity to learn about development, history and culture geared particularly for Muslim societies."

Zohaib completed his degree in Architecture from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in Karachi. Keen to find newer avenues for enrichment, he began teaching 'A' Levels in English. His interest in social reconstruction coupled with his interest in encouraging young people to participate in civil society endeavours, led him to start a 'youth movement' by the name of Uraan (Flight). As the founder of Uraan, he has been active in the design and publishing of t-shirts and posters expressing ideas of social reform and also runs the movement's website and blog.  Zohaib has also previously acted as the Deputy Convener of the 'Movement for Child Protection and Welfare' - a body involved in pushing the government to ratify a bill that addresses the issue child rights in Pakistan."

Mustafa Abul-Him​al, Egypt
"AKU-ISMC provides a unique approach of dealing with Muslim history, and has a bright future ahead of it."​
Mustaf has academic inter​ests in political Islam, theology and Islamic thought. His personal interests include playing squash, reading and listening to music.