Although not part of the Muslim Journeys bookshelf, we highly recommend Denise Spellberg’s, Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an, a fascinating look at the Founding Father’s encounters with Islam. Spellberg suggests that the American principle of broad religious toleration may have been born when Jefferson discovered an English translation of the Qur’an at the college of William and Mary library. As stated in a New York Times review of the book, “What began as an academic interest in Islamic law and religion yielded a fascination with Islamic culture, which disposed him to include Muslims in his expansive vision of American citizenship.”
Jefferson was not alone in his willingness to consider non Christian religions as worthy of protection. According to R. B. Bernstein of the Daily Best, “Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington spurned exclusionary arguments, arguing that America should be open to Muslim citizens, office-holders, and even presidents. Spellberg’s point is that, contrary to those today who would dismiss Islam and Muslims as essentially and irretrievably alien to the American experiment and its religious mix, key figures in the era of the nation’s founding argued that that American church-state calculus both could and should make room for Islam and for believing Muslims.”
Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an is available through both the Evanston and Wilmette public libraries.
Then you’ll love Prince Among Slaves, the true story of Abdul Rahmani, a West African prince who was sold into slavery in 1788, eventually ending up in Natchez, Mississippi. The Morton Grove Library will screen the film version on December 10th at 11:30 am as part of its “Movies Munchies, and More” series.
Check out the viewing and discussion guide from the Muslim Journeys resource page; you can also get the book from either the Morton Grove , Wilmette or Evanston public libraries. This thirtieth-anniversary edition of Prince Among Slaves includes material discovered since the original publication of the book in 1977. Gathered from historical documents on three continents, Abd al-Rahman’s remarkable story offers glimpses of a West African society in the era of the transatlantic slave trade, an American frontier plantation at the beginning of the cotton boom, and the early American republic. It also shows how Abd al-Rahman built a dignified life despite slavery, and even negotiated his family’s release from bondage.
The Wilmette Library will screen the documentary Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World on Thursday November 7th at 7 pm.The film presents dramatic visuals of 1,400 years of Islamic art history narrated by Susan Sarandon. Click here to see the trailer! For additional information on the film and additonal resources, visit the Muslim Journeys website. Here’s a description… Continue reading
In case you didn’t get enough Muslim comedy from Arif Choudhury last week, you’re in luck: the Gene Siskel Film center is screening a documentary on Muslim comedians, THE MUSLIMS ARE COMING! now through September 19th. Here’s a description from the Siskel website:
Are Muslims funny? You’ll believe it when you catch the standup acts of Negin Farsad, Dean Obeidallah, Omar Elba, Maysoon Zayid, and more, as comedy becomes an effective and hilarious weapon in the face of all strains of ethnic and religious prejudice. Taking their show on the road through the deep south and southwest, this band of daredevil comics stages revealing stunts to break the ice. Hug a Muslim in Salt Lake City? You bet. Test your knowledge of the Bible against the Koran in a Bible-belt burg? Go for it. Interviews include Jon Stewart, Lewis Black, Janeane Garofalo, Rachel Maddow, and more. HDCAM video.
Filed under Events, Films
Tahera Ahmad, Muslim chaplain of Northwestern University and an accomplished and highly respected Islamic scholar, will be our discussion leader for the first 3 books in the Evanston Library “Pathways of Faith” discussion series. She will be giving a presentation at the Morton Grove Library tonight, Thursday, September 12, 7 pm on “Women’s Right in Islam”, how those rights affect day-to-day life in the U.S. and around the world. Sister Tahera grew up in Morton Grove and is happy to have a presentation done in her local village library.
As a student, she was featured in the PBS documentary The Calling which looked at the lives of 7 young people of various faiths preparing to become professional clergy. The documentary is available from several local libraries.
She’s been in the news lately, since she became the first woman to recite publicly from the Qu’ran at the Islamic Society of North America convention on August 31st.
To learn more about Sister Tahera’s background and research interests, check out her website at Northwestern.
Welcome to Pathways of Faith, the theme for Evanston ‘s “Let’s Talk About it” conversations! We will be discussing F. E. Peter’s The Children of Abraham on Sunday September 15th. One of the first scholarly works to explain the commonalities and connections between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity,The Children of Abraham explores the intertwined relationships among the three faiths’ holy scriptures, rituals, communities of believers, laws, theological systems, and traditions of mysticism.
The book can be slow going at first, but don’t get discouraged: we have plenty of tools to help you out! Project scholar Frederick Denny’s introduction to Pathways of Faith is a great starting point (here’s the quick to load version). A glossary of terms about Islam is on the Muslim Journeys resource list , along, with background articles from Oxford Islamic Studies Online on key concepts like Sunni versus Shi’a Islam, the Kaaba, the 5 Pillars, Sharia law (the “way”), Judaism and Islam, and of course on Abraham.
Finished the book? Take a look at the suggested discussion points . And feel free to share your own questions and comments on the reading here on the blog!
Haven’t picked up your copy yet? There’s still time! Stop by the 2nd floor desk or call 847-448-8620 to register.
Series Kick Off – Tuesday, September 17, 7 pm
Stop by the Wilmette Public Library for a lecture by Dr. Moruzzi focusing on the book, A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America by Leila Ahmed. The book explores unexpected connections between contemporary veiling, national politics, individual aspirations for self-determination, and collective activism for positive change.
Filed under Events, Wilmette