Shadi Hamid is a political scientist who writes and speaks on religion, democracy, and U.S. foreign policy. He is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a contributing writer at The Atlantic, and co-creator of Wisdom of Crowds. He is the author of several books including The Problem with Democracy (2022) and Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam is Reshaping the World, which was shortlisted for the 2017 Lionel Gelber Prize for best book on foreign affairs, and co-editor of Rethinking Political Islam. His first book Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East was named a Foreign Affairs Best Book of 2014. In 2019, Hamid was named one of the world’s top 50 thinkers by Prospect magazine. 

His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The National Interest, and many other publications. Hamid has been a guest on such programs as NBC Nightly News, Fox News, CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper, The Megyn Kelly Show, and PBS Newshour.  

Hamid previously served as a program specialist on public diplomacy at the U.S. State Department and a legislative fellow at the Office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Prior to joining Brookings, he was a Hewlett Fellow at Stanford University's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. Hamid received his B.S. and M.A. from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and his Ph.D. in political science from Oxford University.

Speech topics

Middle East Politics in the Age of Trump

There is method to the madness. A "Trump doctrine" is taking shape. As with most doctrines, the policy doesn’t quite match the rhetoric. But Trump’s stamp on an ambitious U.S. foreign policy matters—and will continue to matter— for years, perhaps decades to come. Trump couldn’t be more different from Obama, yet, in the Middle East, he has taken Obama’s desire to disengage to a different—perhaps logical —conclusion: unapologetic indifference. Hamid also considers what a new Middle East strategy might look like: one that parts ways with both Trump and Obama by placing human rights and American values and the center of our relationships with Arab allies.

Muslims in the West and the Rise of the New Populists

Despite Muslims comprising only one to eight percent of the population in various Western countries, their very presence has become one of the defining issues of the populist era, dividing left and right in stark fashion. In the United States, few things predict partisan affiliation more than attitudes toward Muslims and Islam. A leading American Muslim commentator, Hamid argues that anti-Muslim sentiment is the connective thread that all right-wing populist parties share, however different they may be in other ways. At the same time, it would be a mistake to view the debate over Islam and Muslims as only that. Muslims aren’t just people who happen to be Muslims. They are, in effect, a “metaphor": Attitudes toward Muslims—including what can sometimes seem an obsession with them—are a proxy for a long list of cultural issues, including gender equality, gay rights, sexual freedom, secularism, the role of religion in everyday life, the decline of Christianity, as well as demographic changes. If these cultural divides are real and growing, what can be done to address them?

Islamic Exceptionalism: Why Islam is Different and Why it Matters

With the demise of the Arab Spring and a growing terrorist threat in the West, unprecedented attention has focused on Islam, which despite being the fastest growing religion in the world, is also one of the most misunderstood. Moving across fourteen centuries of Islamic history, Hamid provocatively argues that Islam is, in fact, "exceptional" in how it relates to politics, with profound implications for how we understand the future of the Middle East. From the very founding of the religion, Islam took a sharply different course than early Christianity and played a central role in law and government. This “exceptionalism,” however, is neither good nor bad. It just is, and the key is understanding how this reality translates in today’s world.


The Problem of Democracy: America, the Middle East, and the Rise and Fall of an Idea

Shadi Hamid reimagines the ongoing debate on democracy's merits and proposes an ambitious agenda for reviving the lost art of democracy promotion in the world's most undemocratic regions.

Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World

Brookings Institution scholar and acclaimed author Shadi Hamid offers a novel and provocative argument on how Islam is, in fact, "exceptional" in how it relates to politics, with profound implications for how we understand the future of the Middle East.

Rethinking Political Islam

In Rethinking Political Islam, two of the leading scholars on Islamism have gathered a group of leading specialists in the field to explain how an array of Islamist movements across the Middle East and Asia have responded.

Militants, Criminals, and Warlords: The Challenge of Local Governance in an Age of Disorder 

This fascinating book takes the reader around the world to areas where national governance has broken down―or never really existed.

Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East

Shadi Hamid draws on hundreds of interviews with leaders and activists from across the region to advance a new understanding of how Islamist movements change over time.


Shadi Hamid and Damir Marusic started the Wisdom of Crowds podcast in 2019, and it has since branched off into a newsletter as well via

The idea behind the podcast is to try to do what they might do on Twitter—throw out ideas in the hope of getting considered push-back—but in real-time and verbally. Like on Twitter, Shadi and Damir talk politics, ideas, culture, and current events. It’s “agonistic” but civil. 


Wisdom of Crowds

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