Stepping from behind the curtain
after five years of anonymous blogging
My name is Ahmad. Amir Ahmad, known to you for the last five years as Drima, and I am the blogger behind The Sudanese Thinker.
Yes, that’s me in the picture below addressing the UN General Assembly back in 2006 when I was 19 on the importance of human rights and protecting freedom of conscience.
Oh yeah, for real, and then Kofi Annan thanked me afterwards.
Why I decided to reveal myself recently on Twitter and now here is something I have numerous personal reasons for and that I cannot explain adequately in a simple short blog post. Let’s just say the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, and the changes sweeping the region now have inspired me and forced me to come to a simple conclusion.
Initially, blogging anonymously was a convenient comfort, but eventually it became increasingly suffocating, and I decided to break free. So here I am.
And now let me get to the triple announcement.
1. Announcing My Upcoming Book
Islam: A Love Story – How Fundamentalism Stole My Mind, Broke My Heart, and Blogging Freed My Mystic Soul
About two years ago, I mentioned that I began working on a book, and many of you have been asking me about it since then. Today I’m glad to finally unveil the details. Learn more here and don’t forget to read the raw unedited prologue and tell me what you think.
2. The Future of Islam In the Age of New Media: 60 Speakers In 60 Seconds Each for a Total of 60 Insightful Minutes
As some of you know, I’m currently pursuing a Masters in philosophy along with research focused on the impact of new media on contemporary Islamic thought.
As part of that research effort, I’ve been working for the past five months on an online audio seminar which convenes 60 diverse speakers comprised of Islamic scholars, new media experts, academics, journalists and activists each giving their take on The Future of Islam In the Age of New Media.
And today it’s my pleasure to announce this online event to you. Learn more about it and sign up here.
We’ve all seen the power of digital media and how it helped in the recent uprisings that toppled the Tunisian and Egyptian dictators. And while there has been a lot of talk about that subject, there has hardly been any discussion on what I believe to be the more important topic, and that is the impact of new media on the Muslim faith.
Islam permeates all aspects of Muslim life including education and politics. Therefore, any evolution and new trends that emerge within Islam and Islamic thought, even in cyberspace, have the potential to influence important matters beyond Islam itself.
This isn’t theory. It’s factual and it’s already happening.
As Gary R. Bunt, a leading researcher and one of the event’s featured speakers rightly observes and states in his book iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam, “The Internet has a profound contemporary impact on how Muslims perceive Islam and how Islamic societies and networks are evolving and shifting in the twenty-first century.”
How and in what ways this is happening is precisely what will be explored and discussed by the event’s 60 speakers.
Having personally undergone a profound transformation in my own religious beliefs and identity–going from fundamentalism through heartbreak and disillusionment, then two years of near atheism, and finally finding peace in Sufism–I know from firsthand experience the impact the Internet can and indeed does have on the faithful.
However, that specific transformation is only one person’s journey, and therefore cannot be decidedly pointed out as representative of the larger emerging trends.
So what are those larger emerging trends then?
Stay tuned for the online audio seminar and hear all 60 perspectives.
3. I’m Speaking at the Oslo Freedom Forum
Oh yeah, true story.
I’ll be speaking on a panel called “Dawn of a New Arab World” along with Libyan blogger, Ghazi Gheblawi, Tunisian digital activist, Lina Ben Mhenni and the courageous Bahraini human rights activist, Maryam al-Khawaja.
The panel will be moderated by Philippa Thomas from BBC, and will be streamed live right here.
Stay tuned for that as well.