I was really excited when I read about the Bridging Cultures Initiative from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The first of a number of planned subjects of national study and dialogue are "Civility and Democracy" and "Muslim Journeys." What’s more, a local library, San Carlos Library, was selected as one of 800 libraries to get the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf – a collection of 25 books and 4 videos -- and to offer programming related to the Bookshelf! How cool is that?
During April, May and June, the Bookshelf was displayed at San Carlos Library, and there were monthly film showings and discussions. The films were Koran by Heart: One Chance to Remember, Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World, and Prince among Slaves.
Librarian Rhea Bradley, whose idea it was to get the Bookshelf for San Carlos, also facilitated book club discussions on many of the books, including The Butterfly Mosque, by G. Willow Wilson, A Quiet Revolution: The Veil's Resurgence, from the Middle East to America, by Leila Ahmed, and Persepolis, a graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi.
Local Librarian Applauded
Rhea received a letter from Congresswoman Jackie Speier, in which she wrote:
"As a Member of Congress, every day I hear of the animus between Islamic and Western cultures through the ages and in our own day, especially the ignorance and bias that many Americans hold towards their fellow citizens who are Muslim. Therefore I applaud your library's contribution to introducing the American public to the complex history and culture of Muslim societies, and thereby promoting harmony and peace among Americans, among religions, and among nations."
Want to get in on the action? Woodside Library will host a number of programs organized by Karen Yamashita related to Muslim Journeys. In August and September, Persian artist Fariba Raisi will have an art exhibit there. In October, they’ll show the film Koran by Heart, about Muslim children from all over the world who journey to Cairo for a competition.
Also in October, the adult book club will read and discuss Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood by Fatima Mernissi. That book club meeting will be led by Rhea Bradley. And finally, on An Evening of Persian Poetry and Music, Fred Pohlmann will create a dramatic recitation of Rumi’s poetry (in English), accompanied by virtuoso musician Ostaad Mohammad Nejad of Nejad World Music Center. That’s October 10.
Vaughn Harrison works at Half Moon Bay Library and on the Bookmobile. She has a long-standing interest in comparative religion and world cultures.