Monday, July 8, 2013

Muslim Journeys Theme: American Stories

Muslims have been a part of the history of America since colonial times. American Muslims, like other religious minorities, have shaped and reshaped their own societies and that of the country as a whole.

Azizah Cover
Reprinted with permission from Azizah Magazine and WOW Publishing Inc.
The community of Muslims throughout American history is so diverse it could not be represented by a single set of books. The five books made available to the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System through the National Endowment for the Humanities Muslim Journeys grant provide a framework for approaching the stories of American Muslims with an eye toward their diversity and their involvement in the larger story of America itself.

Prince Among Slaves by Terry Alford: Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima (1762–1829) was one of tens of thousands of West African Muslims who found himself sold into slavery in antebellum America. Unlike so many others, however, his story was not lost. Alford’s account explains the effect of the transatlantic slave trade on Islamic movements in West Africa, an angle we are not much familiar with in the West.

Prince Among Slaves (PBS documentary)Unity Productions Foundation, an educational non-profit with an interest in interfaith understanding, created a documentary based upon the book of the same name. Attend a screening of this film at the Central Library on July 17 at 2:00 p.m. The film will be followed by a discussion led by Georgia State University scholar Dr.Rashid Naim. 

The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States, edited by Edward E. Curtis IV: Focuses on the waves of Muslim immigration to the United States who arrived voluntarily between the 1880s and 1910s from Eastern Europe, South Asia, and the Middle East plus the  turn to Islam among some African Americans in the twentieth century. Includes primary source material from pioneer Mary Juma, missionaries such as Mohammed Alexander Russell Webb and Pir Inayat Khan, and community-builders like Noble Drew Ali of the Moorish Science Temple, Elijah Muhammad, W.D. Muhammad and Malcolm X.

Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel: The American Muslim population exploded after the Immigration Act of 1965 abolished national quotas. Patel’s family, members of a Muslim religious minority from the Indian state of Gujurat, was part of this wave. His autobiographical account of growing up in the United States as a member of a minority within a minority opens a window into his struggle for identity and his growth into the interfaith activist he is today.

A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, From the Middle East to America by Leila Ahmed: Few aspects of Muslim culture are as poorly understood in the West as the concept of veiling for women. Ahmed explains the many meanings of veiling for Muslim women from the activists of the 20th century who threw off the veil, to the activists of today who embrace it.

The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman’s Journey to Love and Islam by G. Willow Wilson: Intense, penetrating and entertaining account by an American woman who converted to Islam, married and lived in Egypt. She provides us with valuable insights on everything from Sufism and the meaning of faith to how one buys chicken in the market. 

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