Hilal Ahmed

Associate Professor

Hilal Ahmed works on political Islam, Indian democracy, and politics of symbols in South Asia. He is associated with the Lokniti programme of the CSDS.

His first book Muslim Political Discourse in Postcolonial India: Monuments, Memory, Contestation (Routledge 2014) explores these thematic concerns to evolve an interdisciplinary approach to study Muslim politics.

Ahmed’s recent books, Allah Naam ki Siyasat (Setu Prakashan, 2023), Siyasi Muslims: A story of Political Islam in India (Penguin-Random House, New Delhi, 2019) and Democratic Accommodations: Minorities in contemporary India (With Peter R deSouza, and Sanjeer Alam, Bloomsbury, 2019) further elaborate these themes and make a modest attempt to explain the discursively constituted nature of contemporary Muslim political discourse in India.

He has edited Companion to Indian Democracy: Resilience, Fragility, Ambivalence (With Peter R deSouza, and Sanjeer Alam, Routledge, 2021), Rethinking Muslim Personal Law: Issues, Debates and Reforms (with R. K. Mishra & K. N. Jehangir, Routledge, 2022) and Sudipta Kaviraj: A Reader (Hindi, Setu Prakashan, 2023).   

Ahmed is currently working on a book project on the politics of Muslim political representation in postcolonial India. 

Ahmed is the Associate Editor, South Asian Studies, journal of the British Association of South Asian Studies. He is also part of the editorial team of CSDS’s Hindi journal Pratiman

He was a Visting Professor at Krea University (2021-22), Visting Fellow, Institute of Advanced Studies-Nantes (IAS-Nantes, France, 2018-19), Visiting Fellow, at Victoria University Wellington, (2013-14), Visiting Asia Fellow, University of Dhaka, (2011) and Visiting Professor at University of Pune (2011).

He has designed and conducted courses on Research as Practice (2017, 2018), Politics of Political Representation (2016), Research Methods and Identities: Issues and Debates in Postcolonial India (2015), History, Memory and Identity (2009) for the CSDS Teaching Programme, Researching the Contemporary.

He also taught a course Political Sociology at the Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. Ahmed has worked as a lecturer of political science at University of Delhi.

Ahmed writes for academic journals, newspapers, and websites in English and Hindi. He has produced two documentaries, Encountering the Political Jama Masjid (English, 2006) and Qutub: Ek Adhura Afsana (Qutub: an unfinished story, Hindi with English subtitles, 2016).

Ahmed has also conceptualized and developed an academic mobile app SHARC-DILLI an app on the Partitioned City of Delhi, (with Deborah Sutton, Lancaster University). It is an outcome of a project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), UK.

Ahmed did his PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (2007).

He was awarded the Institute of Advanced Studies-Nantes (IAS-Nantes, France) Fellowship, 2018-19, the Rajya Sabha Fellowship (2015-2016), the Asia Fellow Award (2008/2010), the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies Fellowship (2009), the Ford Foundation-IFP Fellowship (2002), the ATRI-Charities Aid Foundation Fellowship (2001), and UGC Senior Research Fellowship (1999) and the UGC Junior Research Fellowship (1997).

A film Beacons of Hope (English, 2008) documents Ahmed’s life story.

Email: ahmed.hilal(at)csds.in

Select Publications (Click to Read)


Sudipta Kaviraj: A Reader (Hindi), Setu Prakashan, 2023. 

Companion to Indian Democracy: Resilience, Fragility, Ambivalence (With Peter R deSouza, and Sanjeer Alam), Routledge, 2021.  

Siyasi Muslims: A story of Political Islam in India, Penguin-Random House, Delhi, 2019

Democratic Accommodations: Minorities in contemporary India (With Peter R de’souza, and Sanjeer Alam), Bloomsbury India, 2019

Muslim Political Discourse in Postcolonial India: Monuments, Memory, Contestation, Routledge India, 2014


Making sense of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019: Process, Politics, Protests, (2020)

Muslim Representation in the Rajya Sabha: Forms and Trajectories, (2015)



‘Researching India’s Muslims: Identities, methods, politics’, in Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 10 (3): 776–78, 2020

‘Dawa Discourse(s) in Postcolonial India’, in Weismann. Itzchak and Malik, Jamal (eds.): Culture of Dawa: Islamic Preaching in the Modern World, University of Utah Press: Salt Lake City, 2020, pp.31-46

'Communal Violence, Electoral Mobilization, and Muslim Representation: Muzaffarnagar 2013-14', in Irfan Ahmad and Pralay Kanungo (eds.): The Algebra of Warfare-Welfare: A long View of India’s 2014 Election, Oxford University Press: Delhi, 2019, pp. 163-196  

'The Politics of Shariat', in Aakash Singh Rathore and Garima Goswami (eds): Rethinking Indian Jurisprudence: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law, London and New Delhi: Routledge, 2018, pp. 95-103

'Indian Democracy and World’s Largest Muslim Minority (with Sudipta Kaviraj)', in Alfred Stepan (ed.) Democratic Transition in the Muslims World: A Global Perspective, Columbia University Press, New York, 2018, pp. 201-226


Mushirul Hasan: Bhartiya Musalmano ko samajhne ke sandharbh bindu (Mushirul Hasan: A reference Point to make sense of India’s Muslims), Pratiman: Samay, Samaj, Sanskriti, Vol. 6, No. 12, July-December 2018, pp. 369-371

Gandhi ke Musalman (Gandhi’s Muslims), Pratiman: Samay, Samaj, Sanskriti, Vol. 5, No.10, July-December 2017, pp. 7-20

Films (Click to Watch)

Beacons of Hope

Qutub: Ek Adhura Afsana