Mustafa is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, where he focuses on the intersection of public policy, Islam, and modernity. He is also an Affiliate Scholar at the Acton Institute. As Affiliate Scholar, he leads Acton’s Islamic Outreach project, which explores the foundations of a free and virtuous society from an Islamic perspective, through events and publications. Akyol has also been a faculty member at Acton University since 2008, teaching sessions such as “Islam, Reason, and Freedom” and “Islam 101.”
A Turkish journalist and author, Akyol worked for more than a decade as an opinion columnist for Turkish newspapers Hurriyet Daily News, and Star (before they were co-opted, purged and transformed by the powers that be.) Since 2013, he also has a been a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. Akyol’s articles have also appeared in a wide range of other publications such as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Newsweek, First Things, The Forward, Al-Monitor.com, The Weekly Standard, The Financial Times, The London Times, The Guardian, The Washington Times, and Pakistan’s The Dawn. He has appeared frequently on CNN, BBC, NPR, and Al‐Jazeera English, and on prominent TV shows such as Fareed Zakaria GPS and HARDtalk. His TED talk on “Faith versus Tradition in Islam” has been watched by more than 1.2 million viewers.
Akyol is the author of Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty (2011) praised by The Financial Times as “a forthright and elegant Muslim defense of freedom.” The book was longlisted for the 2012 Lioner Gelber Prize, and has been published in Turkish, Malay and Indonesian. (It was subsequently banned in Malaysia in 2017 after Akyol’s short arrest by the country’s “religious police” merely because Akyol delivered a public lecture defending religious freedom.) He is also the author of The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims (2017), Reopening Muslim Minds: A Return to Reason, Freedom, and Tolerance (2021), and six books in Turkish, including Rethinking the Kurdish Question (2006).
Between January 2017 and June 2018, Akyol was a senior visiting fellow at the Freedom Project at Wellesley College. He studied political science and history at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey.