I met Ahmed in my first days of grad school at SOAS in 2000 and we immediately became extremely close–as was true for so many others because Ahmed had the most open heart and sweetest soul of anyone I’ve met. Like so many of Ahmed’s dear friends we came from such different backgrounds, but that was never a barrier. He cast no judgment of me as a privileged young American–just listened with the deepest attention no matter how trivial my problem, and always had a uniquely sharp insight. He applied the same razor sharp intellect and limitless reservoir of empathy to the biggest problems of the world through his academic research and activism.
When I tried to describe Ahmed to my partner the very first thing that came to mind was how slowly he moved — like he couldn’t imagine what purpose there would ever be in rushing, or didn’t know the meaning of the word. That was his way with everything he did — taking his time, eking out every ounce of meaning from each book, idea, project or relationship.
Over the past nineteen years we managed to meet up many times in–in Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels, London, Jerusalem and Cairo. The last time, in the summer of 2018, ten years had gone by since I’d last seen him, but it was like not a day–like meeting up with the big brother I never had. He was moving even slower than before. I knew his health was waning but he wouldn’t dwell on it; we had too much to catch up on. We strolled through the streets of London and stopped in every park to rest. We made plans for a visit to Berlin with my partner, and I so regret putting that off. Ahmed was and is a truly extraordinary friend and extraordinary soul. Deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. His memory will always be a blessing.