Goodwill Ambassador for Polio Eradication, Musician, Physician, NGO leader
Salman Ahmad is a musician, physician and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. With his wife, Samina, he launched an NGO called the Salman & Samina Global Wellness Initiative (SSGWI), focused on interfaith and cross-cultural dialogue, global health, wellness, and music education.
Born in Lahore, Pakistan, Ahmad spent his teenage years in New York before returning to Lahore to train as a medical doctor.
Turning then to his true passion of music, Ahmad founded South Asia's biggest rock band, Junoon, in 1990. The band faced death threats and harassment from religious extremists and government forces in its early years, but Junoon’s sweeping melodies, bhangra rock rhythms and driving guitars led it to become known as "the U2 of South Asia.” Ahmad popularized a blend of Western rock music and Eastern/Islamic music that has been called “Sufi rock” and that has been hailed as a cultural bridge within South Asia and between the East and West.
Ahmad led Junoon in a 2001 performance at the U.N. General Assembly Hall—the first such rock performance in that hall. In 2007 Junoon performed at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo. The group defied death threats from militants to perform in 2008 in the valley of Kashmir -- the first rock concert to be held in Srinagar.
Ahmad was also a professor at Queens College (CUNY) where he taught music and poetry from Muslim culture.
Ahmad is also a member of the Brookings institute's US-Islamic arts & culture panel for public diplomacy.