This list of fiction and nonfiction titles was selected by the American Library Association in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities to reflect the diversity of the Muslim experience past and present in the United States and around the world.
In spring of 2013 Los Angeles Public Library hosted a tie-in celebration, Poetic Voices of the Muslim World, featuring an 18-panel exhibit and a series of talks and musical performances focusing on the richness and variety of poetry, ancient and modern, by Muslim authors in Asia, Africa and America.
The autobiography of an American Muslim (born in the Chicago area to parents from India). Patel attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and founded the Interfaith Youth Core, a nonprofit organization devoted to making interfaith cooperation a social norm, particularly among young people.
A one-volume selection from the famed set of tales told for 1,001 nights by Princess Shahrazad to save herself from execution. This translation is based on the Mahdi edition, the definitive Arabic rendering of a 14th-century Syrian manuscript which is considered the oldest and most authentic of the surviving versions.
The ritual of an annual pilgrimage (the Hajj) to Mecca was established by the prophet Muhammad in 632. This book is a companion catalog to a British Museum exhibit depicting the Hajj over the centuries in a wide variety of art forms.
A novel set in Karachi, Pakistan. When Aasmaani was a teenager, she idolized her feminist activist mother and her mother’s lover, Pakistan’s greatest poet. Then the poet was beaten to death and her mother vanished soon after. Fourteen year’s later her mother’s best friend starts giving her coded letters which seem to imply that the poet is still alive and her mother is communicating with him—or is someone trying to trick her?
The daughter of an American atheist couple, Wilson found herself increasingly attracted to the Islamic faith during her college years, which coincided with the 9/11 attacks. Taking a job in an English-speaking high school in Cairo, she found love with a teacher at the school and embraced the ways Islam is woven into the daily fabric of existence in Egypt.
A detailed and objective look at the similarities and differences of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The author traces their history from the Jews’ return to Palestine in the sixth century B. C., up to the Middle Ages, when all three religions took on much of their present form.
A selection of excerpts from essays, interviews, speeches, editorials, blogs, song lyrics, and other writings by Americans who call themselves Muslims. Through these documents, the history of American Muslims is traced from colonial times to the present.
A memoir in cartoon form depicts the author’s childhood in Tehran from age six to fourteen. During these years the Isamic Revolution overthrew the Shah, and a war with Iraq devastated the country.
A Persian epic poem written over 800 years ago. The birds of the world go on a quest for a leader. The seven valleys they cross represent the stations a Sufi must pass through in search of enlightenment, and when they reach their destination they find only a lake in which they can see their own reflections.
The author, a sociologist, recounts her girlhood in the 1940s in a harem in Fez, Morocco. These mid-twentieth-century harems were not the stereotypical opulent dwelling places for sultans’ concubines; instead they were sprawling domestic encampments designed to keep women and children in their own separate world.
In 2006, reporter Shadid, an Arab-American from Oklahoma, was covering his fourth Middle Eastern conflict when he heard that an Israeli rocket had crashed into his ancestral home in Lebanon. Weary of war and with his personal life in tatters, he decided to rebuild his great-grandfather’s house and in the process rebuilt his own life as well.
During the period we sometimes call “the dark ages” in Europe, many of the innovations associated with Western science had their roots in the Arab world. The author, a British/Iraqi scientist, shows how the Arabic Enlightenment led to a European cultural awakening but also ponders why the Islamic world subsequently entered its own dark age.
Bengali novelist Ghosh recounts his research into the lives of a medieval Jewish merchant and his Indian servant or slave whose story he discovered while working on his doctorate in the Nile Delta. He describes his own experiences in 1980s Egypt and connects them to the details he discovers about the lives of these two men in the 12th century.
This Booker Prize finalist depicts the increasingly troubled life of a nine-year-old boy in Tripoli, Libya ten years after the Khadafy revolution. Suleiman’s idyllic summer with his friend Kareem turns increasingly ominous as it becomes clear that both boys’ fathers are involved in anti-government activities.
This 90-minute documentary transports viewers across nine countries and 1,400 years of cultural history to survey the rich heritage of Muslim arts, crafts, and architecture.
A comprehensive, lavishly illustrated survey of all types of Islamic art, ranging from buildings to calligraphy to textiles, and covering a wide swath of Asia, Africa and Europe between 600 and 1800.
A documentary film about three 10-year-olds who travel from their native countries to Cairo to participate in a memorization and recitation contest called the International Holy Koran Competition.
A biographical novel about the 16th-century Moorish diplomat and author al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Wazzan al-Fasi, also known as Leo Africanus. The story recounts his travels throughout the Islamic Mediterranean region and his interactions with many historical figures, including three Popes, two Ottoman Emperors, and the artist Raphael.
A young Sudanese woman adjusts to life in London on her own in this acclaimed novel. Najwa spent a pampered childhood as a government official’s daughter in Khartoum. When a coup leads to her father’s execution, her family flees to England, where her mother soon dies and her brother is imprisoned. Taking a job as a nanny to a wealthy Arab family, she finds herself as invisible as the Ethiopians who worked for her parents.
Muhammad, the founder of Islam, a religion that now has over a billion followers, must be considered one of the most influential figures in history. This book takes a look at his life, both as seen in traditional sources and by modern scholars, and also examines his followers’ views of him over the centuries.
Menocal’s book is a look at Andalusia, Spain, during the seven hundred years between 786 and 1492. She contends that the religious tolerance shown by ruler Abd al-Rahman and his successors led to a cooperation among Judaic, Islamic, and Christian cultures and nurtured scientific, artistic, and philosophical advances that foreshadowed the Renaissance.
A look at the remarkable life of Abd al Rahman Ibrahima, the son of an African king, who was captured in war in 1788 at age 26 and shipped to Natchez, Mississippi, as a slave. Despite his education and abilities Ibrahima spent forty years in servitude before the U. S. government intervened to free him.
An hourlong documentary based on the book by Terry Alford documents the amazing story of Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima Ibn Sori, a West African prince who was sold into slavery in 1788 and spent 40 years in servitude in the United States.
The author was raised in 1940s Cairo where many women rejected the veils and headscarves of earlier generations, yet today these traditional garments have made a return. Her examination of women in today’s Egypt and neighboring countries concludes that this change represents much more than a return to customs of the past.
A selection from the writings of thirteenth-century poet, theologian, and Sufi mystic Rumi, who is often considered to be one of the most popular poets in 21st-century America.
Probably the most famous novel by this Nobel-Prize-winning Turkish author, Snow depicts many of the political and cultural tensions of present-day Turkey in its story of Ka, a poet who returns to Turkey after twelve years of political exile in Germany with two principal goals: investigating a series of suicides and reconnecting with a woman from his past.
Islamic scholar Mattson examines the doctrines and surveys the key themes of the Qur’an, while also considering its influence on all aspects of Muslim society, including law, art and architecture, politics, science, and religion.
Each chapter in Gordon’s book is based on the actual memoir of someone who lived and traveled in Asia during the millennium from 500 to 1500. These stories are not directly connected, but taken together they portray the richness of life in a variety of locales from Arabia to China.