Muslim Journeys Bookshelf travels to Fresno State


From left to right, Negin Tahvildary, Alison Cowgill and Hiromi Kubo worked to bring the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys selection to the Henry Madden Library at Fresno State.
Photo courtesy of K. Nabil Sakib

The Henry Madden Library at Fresno State is now one of 840 locations nationwide chosen by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association (ALA) to feature the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys. 

The new addition to the library comes just as Fresno State gears up to celebrate Diversity Awareness Week in April.

The Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno (ICCF), a nonprofit religious corporation, also accepted the grant.

Alison Cowgill, a librarian in the Henry Madden Library, spearheaded efforts to bring the new selection to campus.

The selection of books and films are part of a wider effort to engage and educate the public about Islam and Muslim identities here and around the globe.

“The program aims to familiarize public audiences in the United States with the people, places, history, faith and cultures of Muslims in the United States and around the world,” Cowgill said in a released statement.

The collection has a vast array of resources for Fresno State students and the public. Highlighted among the books and films in the collection will be the Oxford Islamic Studies Online, which will allow access to primary-source documents and current works of scholarship for students and researchers.

Advisors helping in the selection of works came from vast backgrounds: librarians, scholars of Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian studies, anthropology, art and architecture and world literature among others.

Negin Tahvildary, a part-time lecturer in the linguistics and philosophy departments at Fresno State, will be the local associate and project scholar for the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf.

Tahvildary is also an advisor for the Persian Students Cultural Club and is heavily involved with the Middle Eastern studies program.

“Muslim-Americans are a significant segment both on and off campus,” Tahvildary said. “These resources and related programming will help us promote learning and understanding throughout Fresno County and even beyond.”

As Fresno State’s student body continues to diversify, Tahvildary sees the opening of the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf as a positive move towards cultural understanding.

“There is a need to promote diversity on campus and to celebrate the diversity we have among the student body,” Tahvildary said. “This Bridging Culture Bookshelf offers opportunities to raise awareness of, and actively promotes an appreciation of multiculturalism.”

Bahar Madani, a Fresno State graduate and former student of Tahvildary’s, believes that the new Muslim Journeys Bookshelf is a great new addition to on-campus resources.

“Henry Madden Library is a great research tool for Fresno State students and having an Islamic studies section in the library would help expand the future growth of students looking to gain more information on the religion,” Madani said.

Support for Muslim Journeys Bookshelf also came from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

The library is planning an opening for the display on Monday, April 22 at 2 p.m.

  • Arafat

    Here is some information on Islam.
    In 627, Muhammad besieged the last Jewish tribe in Medina. Their powerful non-Muslim ally had by that time died; the Jews had no one to protect them. The Jews then sent a messenger to Muhammad and expressed their willingness to surrender and leave the city. Muhammad said no and told them that if they agreed to surrender, he would appoint a negotiator who would settle the issue. When the Jews agreed. the negotiator Muhammad appointed was the man who had organized the murder of the above-mentioned Ka’ab, and who passionately hated the Jews. He decided that the Jewish men would be executed, and that their women and children would be distributed among the Muslims. About 750 Jews were then murdered in the marketplace in Medina, and heaped into a common grave. Muslim tradition teaches that Jewish blood flowed like a river through the market. (Source: Kitab al-Maghazi, Vol. 2, pages 496-520).

    Interestingly, this image has been used over and over again throughout Muslim history. In 2004, for example, when Nick Berg, an American Jew working in Iraq, was kidnapped and then murdered by the Iraqi al-Qaida leader al-Zarqawi, as Zarqawi was about to behead Berg, he said: “I will do to you what Muhammad did to the Jews in Medina.”

    In 628, Muhammad besieged the Jewish city Khaybar. Before doing so, he sent in assassins to murder the Jewish leaders of the city, thereby terrifying the rest of the people. A bloody battle ensued; the Jews surrendered. Muhammad imposed on them the Jizya tax [for non-Muslims], and they thus became “dhimmis” [officially second-class citizens]. Muhammed also demanded that the Jews turn over to the Muslims half of their crops (note: the Muslims did not know how to raise crops). On the day that the Jews of Khaybar surrendered, Muhammad married to Jewish wife of the leader of the city, whose father Muhammad had previously killed. At the same time, her husband was tortured to death so he would tell the Muslims where he had hidden his treasure. (Source: Kitab al-Maghazi, Vol. 2, pages 440-479).