Akhmad Sahal is a Ph.D. candidate of the Department of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania. His research area revolves around modern Islamic and Jewish political thinking. He earned his master’s degree in political theory from the department of political science at New York University. Prior to his study in the U.S., Sahal served as the deputy director of the Jakarta-based Freedom Institute and the curator of the Utan Kayu Cultural Center. He also worked as an editor of the Kalam cultural magazine. Sahal has written articles on Islam, politics and culture in several journals, national newspapers and book chapters. He is currently the vice chairman of the North American branch of Nahdlatul Ulama.
Akhmad Sahal will be joining the HKS Indonesian program as a research fellow from August 2014 through May 2015. His research topic is concerned with the discourse of democracy from within the Islamic law. He will investigate the ways in which such secular notions as democracy and the nation-state are viewed from the perspective of Islamic legal thinking in Indonesia.