Great River Regional Library received the American Library Association/National Endowment for the Humanities Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys bookshelf grant. This list includes all of the books and films which are part of this collection. GRRL is collaborating with the College of St. Benedict Clemens Library to offer two book discussion series on some of the books below. Watch for event dates on the Events Calendar!
Highly symbolic and often misunderstood, Muslim women’s wearing of the veil sometimes evokes passionate responses, from other Muslims as well as from non-Muslims. In this insightful and often surprising analysis, Harvard University professor Leila Ahmed describes the adoption of hijab (the practice of wearing head coverings and other concealing garments in public) as a “quiet revolution” among Muslim women.
In this memoir, Eboo Patel relates his journey to faith-based activism with American youth. Patel, a native of the Chicago area who was born of Indian immigrants and raised in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, recounts the challenges he faced straddling multiple worlds, making the case that religion can play a constructive role in young people’s lives. His struggle is not one of choosing a Muslim identity over assimilation, but of discovering how to embrace difference.
Pakistan was created as an independent nation in 1947, carved from predominantly Muslim regions in the east and west of India after British colonial rule ended on the Indian subcontinent. Ever since, Pakistan has struggled to be Islamic yet secular, and to create a sense of nationhood in a population of great cultural, ethnic, and economic diversity. In Broken Verses, Kamila Shamsie beautifully captures the promise of Pakistan and the country’s divisive political reality. Told through the eyes of a young television journalist working in the flourishing seaport of Karachi, the novel traces one family’s incredible experience of Pakistan from the 1970s to the present. Part mystery, part romance, and part coming-of-age tale, Broken Verses combines a compelling story with a larger meditation on the meaning of poetry, politics, religion, and Pakistan itself.
"I was born in a harem in 1940 in Fez, Morocco..." So begins Fatima Mernissi in this exotic and rich narrative of a childhood behind the iron gates of a domestic harem. Mernissi weaves her own memories with the dreams and memories of the women who surrounded her in the courtyard of her youth--women who, deprived of access to the world outside, recreated it from sheer imagination. Dreams of Trespass is the story of a girl confronting the mysteries of time and place, gender and sex in the recent Muslim world. Mernissi writes with wit and color of the politics of seductions, of the harem as a metaphor, and of the world beyond--every woman's inaccessible obsession
When Anthony Shadid, one of four New York Times reporters captured in Libya, was freed, he went home to an ancient estate built by his great-grandfather. For two years previous, he had worked to reconstruct the house and restore his spirit after both had weathered war. Now he tells the story of the house's re-creation, recovering the lives that have passed through it. He juxtaposes past and present as he traces the house's renewal along with his family's flight from Lebanon to America.
Moving between past and present, anthropologist Amitav Ghosh presents a lyrical portrait of life in Egypt, as well as broad histories of that country, Tunisia, and India’s Malabar Coast. Ghosh weaves strands of his own life in rural Egypt into the story he is researching of a twelfth-century Jewish merchant and his slave. Exploiting an extraordinary cache of medieval documents in Cairo, Ghosh is able to piece together a fascinating story illuminating the reach of medieval Egyptian trade and cross-cultural interaction; he also tells of a form of slavery very different from the one familiar to most Americans.
“The truth couldn’t be kept away, it was cunning, sly-natured, seeping through at its own indifferent pace.” In Hisham Matar’s debut novel, a Libyan boy must come to terms with difficult truths about Libya, loyalty, and truth when his father disappears. On the surface a story of the violence and absurdity of life during the rule of Muammar al-Qaddafi, In the Country of Men describes the politics of childhood more than the politics of nations. We are left to reflect on the ties that bind us all—the universal embarrassments and frustrations of childhood, the challenge of constructing meaning from memory, and the presence of unavoidable truths.
"Documentary of stunning breadth and beauty, transports viewers over nine countries and across 1,400 years of cultural history to reveal the astonishing riches of Muslim arts, crafts, and architecture. Exploring distant locations and many rare pieces of art, the film illuminates the history of a global culture, reflecting the Islamic world as it developed over centuries and as it is today."--Container
“Islamic Art” is a tricky label. While it does refer to art created and used in Muslim rituals and practices, it also encompasses a wide range of art that has no religious significance, but is made by and for people who once lived, or who now live, in Muslim-majority societies. This survey of Islamic Arts is an excellent introduction and overview of the subject, covering twelve centuries and a wide range of artistic and architectural genres and styles. Filled with beautiful color images and very readable text, this book could even serve as a fine introduction to the broad sweep of Islamic culture and history.
In this 80-minute documentary, three 10-year old children leave their native countries to participate in one of the Islamic world's most famous competitions, a test of memory and recitation known as The International Holy Koran Competition. As the competition reaches its climax, Koran By Heart offers a compelling and nuanced glimpse into some of the pressures faced by the next generation of Muslims.
This 1986 novel, originally published in French as Léon, l’Africain, is the imagined autobiography of real-life geographer, adventurer, and scholar Hasan al-Wassan (ca. 1494–ca. 1554), whose far-reaching travels in the sixteenth century were a precursor to the cultural interconnections we associate with modern globalization. After fleeing with his family from Granada to Fez, Morocco, to escape the Inquisition, Hasan made many commercial and diplomatic journeys. These took him throughout the Islamic Mediterranean, from North Africa to Arabia, and across the Sahara. Captured by a Sicilian pirate, he was taken as a gift to Pope Leo X in Rome. There he acquired the Latin name by which he is best known in the West. The writings of Leo Africanus served for some 400 years as one of Europe’s principal sources of information about Africa and Islam.
Leila Aboulela’s novel Minaret follows the spiritual journey of a young woman exiled from her home in Sudan and forced to invent a new life in London, far from the comforts of her privileged childhood and secular education. She supports herself as a maid caring for the children of wealthy Arabs. Struggling to establish a new sense of identity, she finds herself drawn to a community of observant Muslim women at a neighborhood mosque, who provide spiritual and emotional support as she navigates a range of challenges. The young woman comes to express a newfound piety, embracing the traditions of veiling, prayer, and fasting.
As the founder of Islam, a religion with over one billion followers, Muhammad is one of the most influential figures in world history. But learning about his life and understanding his importance has always proven difficult, as our only source of knowledge comes from the biography of him written by his followers, the reliability of which has been questioned by Western scholars. This Very Short Introduction provides an introduction to the major aspects of Muhammad's life and its importance, providing both Muslim and Western historical perspectives. It explains the roles that Muhammad's persona has played in the Islamic world throughout history, from the medieval to the modern period. The book also sheds light on modern controversies such as the Satanic Verses, for which author Salman Rushdie was condemned for blasphemy, and the uproar over Danish cartoons of Muhammad, which triggered violent protests around the world. As these recent events show, whatever the truth about Muhammad's life, his persona still plays a crucial role in Muslim life and civilization
Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's inventive, wry, and tragic memoir of growing up in Tehran in the 1980s—the tumultuous years when the Islamic Revolution took hold in Iran and the country fought off an invasion from neighboring Iraq. Using a striking black-and-white comic strip format, Satrapi chronicles daily life from the perspective of a middle-class schoolchild, as well as cataclysmic events such as the overthrow of the shah and the long, bloody war with Iraq. Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the personal costs of war and repression, convincingly related by a perceptive girl caught up in the raging currents of history who also has time to listen to Michael Jackson and dream of a better life. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring of 2011, Persepolis feels even more timely, insightful, and essential.
Terry Alford tells the story of Abd al Rahman Ibrahima, a Muslim slave who, in 1807, was recognized by an Irish ship's surgeon as the son of an African king who had saved his life many years earlier. "The Prince," as he had become known to local Natchez, Mississippi residents, had been captured in war when he was 26 years old, sold to slave traders, and shipped to America. Slave though he was, Ibrahima was an educated, aristocratic man, and he was made overseer of the large cotton and tobacco plantation of his master, who refused to sell him to the doctor for any price. After years of petitioning by Dr. Cox and others, Ibrahima finally gained freedom in 1828 through the intercession of U.S. Secretary of State Henry Clay. It is not only a remarkable story, but also the story of a remarkable man, who endured the humiliation of slavery without ever losing his dignity or his hope for freedom.
Jalalu'l-Din Rumi (1207-73) was the greatest of the Persian mystical poets. In his extensive writings he explored the profound themes that had gradually evolved with the long succession of Sufi thinkers since the ninth century, such as the nature of truth, of beauty, and of our spiritual relationship with God. With this accessible translation, a wider readership can appreciate the range and depth of Rumi's intellect and imagination
"Returning to Turkey from exile in the West, Ka is driven by curiosity to investigate a surprising wave of suicides among religious girls forbidden to wear their head scarves in school. But the epicenter of the suicides, the eastern border city of Kars, is also home to the radiant and newly divorced Ipek, a friend of Ka's youth, whom he has never forgotten and whose spirited younger sister is a leader of the rebellious schoolgirls. As a fierce snowstorm descends on Kars, violence between the military and local Islamic radicals begins to explode, and Ka finds his sympathies drawn in unexpected and dramatic directions."--P.  of jacket
Husain Haddawy's translation of The Arabian Nights is based on a landmark reconstruction of the earliest extant manuscript version. These stories (and stories within stories, and stories within stories within stories), told by the Princess Shahrazad under the threat of death if she ceases to amuse, first reached the West around 1700. Collected over centuries from India, Persia, and Arabia, and ranging from vivacious erotica, animal fables, and adventure fantasies to pointed Sufi tales, the stories of The Arabian Nights provided the daily entertainment of the medieval Islamic world at the height of its glory.
In the Qur’an, Muslims are instructed that at least once in their lives they must take part in the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the spiritual center of the Islamic world . Over the centuries, artists, craftspeople, and others have found innumerable ways to articulate the experience, from calligraphy to decorative tiles and textiles, even scientific instruments, maps, and metalwork. These and other media of expression are captured in this profusely illustrated book by distinguished curator Venetia Porter.
The Butterfly Mosque is the memoir of an American woman raised in a secular family who discovers the value of religion during her travels. Interested in history, art, and literature, G. Willow Wilson takes a teaching job in Cairo. She meets the sincere young friend of a friend assigned to show her the ropes in the city—a highly unconventional relationship that turns into love and marriage. The book follows her encounter with Egyptian society and with her own spirituality as she converts to Islam, and about her developing relationship with her husband's family.
Peters, a scholar in the comparative study of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, revisits his pioneering work after twenty-five years. Peters traces the three faiths from the sixth century B.C. when the Jews returned to Palestine from exile in Babylonia, to the time in the Middle Ages when they approached their present form. He points out that all three faith groups, whom the Muslims themselves refer to as "People of the Book," share much common ground. Most notably, each embraces the practice of worshipping a God who intervenes in history on behalf of His people.--Excerpted from book jacket
Since September 11, 2001, Muslims in the United States have become the subject of genuine curiosity and compassion as well as increased government surveillance and harassment. Who are these Muslims? What is their history, and where do they come from? Do they share a common culture? Do they vary in their beliefs? Bringing together an unusually personal collection of essays and documents from an incredibly diverse group of Americans who call themselves Muslims, Edward E. Curtis "finds Islam" in the American experience from colonial times to the present. Sampling from speeches, interviews, editorials, stories, song lyrics, articles, autobiographies, blogs, and other sources, Curtis presents a patchwork narrative of Muslims from different ethnic and class backgrounds, religious orientations, and political affiliations. With this informed, real-life portrait, Curtis provides a corrective to the rhetoric of suspicion and fear surrounding current discussions of Muslims in the United States and emphasizes Muslims' continuing impact on American society and culture.--Excerpted from the Publisher
The translation of a magnificent work of Persian poetry--now updated with new material. Composed in the twelfth century in northeastern Iran, Farid Attar's great mystical poem is among the most significant of all works of Persian literature. An allegorical rendering of the Islamic doctrine of Sufism, it describes the pilgrimage of the world's birds in search of their ideal king, the Simorgh bird, and the arduous journey they take to reach him.
"A myth-shattering view of the medieval Islamic world's myriad scientific innovations, which preceded-and enabled-the European Renaissance. Inspired by the Koranic injunction to study closely all of God's works, rulers throughout the Islamic world funded armies of scholars who gathered and translated Persian, Sanskrit, and Greek texts. Many of the innovations that we think of as hallmarks of Western science were actually the result of Arab ingenuity."-- Provided by publisher
The Islamic empire of al-Andalus was known in its time as “the ornament of the world.” In particular, its capital city, Córdoba, was widely noted for its cosmopolitan culture, diverse population, and artistic achievements. In this masterful and entertaining history, Yale University professor María Menocal explains the great successes and turbulent times of al-Andalus, which embraced much of the Iberian Peninsula from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries. To explore the varied culture of the Muslims, Jews, and Christians who lived together under imperial Andalusian rule, Menocal takes the reader to the vaults of the Great Mosque of Córdoba, onto battlefields outside Paris, and to King Ferdinand’s tomb, inscribed in Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, and Castilian.
This introduction to the Qur'an offers an authoritative description of the book at the heart of Muslim life. Written by an Islamic expert, this book is an account of the doctrines contained in the Qur'an and provides a comprehensive explanation of their significance to individual Muslims and the societies in which they live.--Excerpted from book jacket
While European intellectual, cultural, and commercial life stagnated during the early medieval period, Asia flourished as the wellspring of science, philosophy, and religion. Linked together by a web of religious, commercial, and intellectual connections, the different regions of Asia's vast civilization, from Arabia to China, hummed with commerce, international diplomacy, and the brisk exchange of ideas. Stewart Gordon has fashioned a look at Asia from A.D. 700 to 1500, a time when Asia was the world, by describing the personal journeys of Asia's many travelers--the merchants who traded spices along the Silk Road, the apothecaries who exchanged medicine and knowledge from China to the Middle East, and the philosophers and holy men who crossed continents to explore and exchange ideas, books, science, and culture.--From publisher description