Muslim Journeys Bookshelf Application Guidelines

NOTE: The application deadline has passed; applications are no longer being accepted.

Receipt Deadline: October 25, 2012
Date posted: June 15, 2012
CFDA No. 45.164

These guidelines explain the program and how to prepare an online application.

Contact the American Library Association staff at 1–800–545–2433, ext. 5045, or You can also contact the National Endowment for the Humanities at 202–606–8337 or Hearing–impaired applicants can contact NEH via TDD at 1–866–372–2930.

I. Program Description

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is conducting a special initiative, Bridging Cultures, which engages the power of the humanities to promote understanding of and mutual respect for people with diverse histories, cultures, and perspectives within the United States and abroad.

The Bridging Cultures initiative encompasses a broad array of themes and program formats informed by scholarship and the perspectives of the humanities. Projects already funded address themes as varied as the role of civility in democracy; religious pluralism in the United States; Muslim-majority societies and the humanities; U.S. history in global perspective; Asian cultural traditions on the Pacific Rim; the role of women in war and peace; cultural encounters between China and the U.S.; the influence of the American West on European culture; and the history of relations between China and Africa.

As part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, NEH is collaborating with the American Library Association (ALA) to present Muslim Journeys, the first in a planned series of Bridging Cultures Bookshelves. Through Bridging Cultures Bookshelf programs, NEH will provide resources to enhance libraries’ collections and their capacity to engage audiences in reflection on and conversation about a variety of Bridging Cultures themes.

The Muslim Journeys Bookshelf is intended to address the American public’s need and desire for trustworthy and accessible resources about Muslim beliefs and practices and the cultural heritage associated with Islamic civilizations.

The Muslim Journeys Bookshelf seeks to provide the nation’s libraries—and in turn their patrons—with a selection of resources chosen especially for public audiences, based on the advice of scholars, librarians, and other humanities educators and program experts.


The Muslim Journeys Bookshelf is a collection of 25 books chosen with a view to familiarizing the American public with Islam and the cultural heritage of Islamic civilizations around the world.

There are hundreds of books, films, magazine articles, and Web resources available to members of the public who wish to learn more about Islam. The Bookshelf is not intended to be a comprehensive study of Islam as a religion or of Muslim-majority societies in all its complexity. NEH selected the title, Muslim Journeys, to convey a more modest ambition, which is to introduce readers to some new and diverse perspectives on the people, places, histories, beliefs, practices, and cultures of Muslims around the world, including those within the U.S.

The following five themes, each developed by a nationally known scholar, provide context for reading and discussing the books.

American Stories—developed by Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, Reed College
While the large presence of Muslims in the United States dates to the 1960s, Muslims have been a part of the history of America since colonial times. American Muslims’ stories draw attention to ways in which people of varying religious, cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds interact to shape both their communities’ identities and our collective past.

Connected Histories—developed by Giancarlo Casale, University of Minnesota
Centuries before the dawn of the modern age, the world was already a surprisingly interconnected place. Readings for this theme introduce a way of understanding the past in which Islam and the West are seen as products of a shared, cosmopolitan, and inextricably intertwined past. These books help envision the world of our ancestors, which was as complex and dynamically interconnected as the world we live in today.

Literary Reflections—developed by Leila Golestaneh Austin, Johns Hopkins University
Islam has long provided a source of inspiration through which Muslims experience, understand, and guide their everyday lives. The readings for this theme are literary reflections on Muslim piety and communal concepts such as ethics, governance, knowledge, and identity. Each one reveals transformations in faith and identity, as Muslims living at different times and in different places have interpreted Islamic traditions to meet their distinctive cultural realities and spiritual needs.

Pathways of Faith—developed by Frederick M. Denny, University of Colorado
Following the correct pathway to spiritual fulfillment and success is a key Islamic principle. Readings for this theme explore the basic requirements for learning and obeying the precepts of the Qur’an, following Muhammad’s teachings, and engaging in specific formal practices. Also introduced are the pathways leading from Judaism and Christianity to Islam, the youngest of the three Abrahamic religions; the divergent paths followed by the Sunni and Shia communities; and the mystical routes to spiritual fulfillment known as Sufism.

Points of View—developed by Deborah Amos, international correspondent, National Public Radio
The drama of conflict, chaos, and war comes to Western readers in daily newspaper stories, but the news gives us scant details about how people live their lives in Islamabad, Fez, Cairo, or Tehran. Through the titles in “Points of View,” readers will encounter some of the best contemporary storytelling in memoirs and novels that depict individuals’ experiences in various Muslim-majority societies.

Each of these themes is described in greater depth on the Themes page.

The Bookshelf

In addition to 25 books, the Bookshelf includes a DVD containing a series of short videos on art and architecture (“Islamic Art Spots”), two films, and a one-year subscription to Oxford Islamic Studies Online.

Nearly all of the books are associated with one of the themes described above. In the list below, the theme (in one case, themes) is indicated in parentheses next to the title.

Note: AS = American Stories; CH = Connected Histories; LR = Literary Reflections; PF = Pathways of Faith; PV = Points of View.

Book titles are as follows:

  • Minaret by Leila Aboulela (LR)
  • A Quiet Revolution by Leila Ahmed (AS)
  • Prince Among Slaves by Terry Alford (AS)
  • The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance by Jim Al-Khalili (CH)
  • Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan A. C. Brown (PF)
  • The Arabian Nights (anonymous), edited by Muhsin Mahdi, translated by Husain Haddawy (LR)
  • The Conference of the Birds by Farid al-Din Attar, translated by Dick Davis and Afkham Darbandi (LR)
  • Islamic Arts by Jonathan Bloom and Sheila Blair
  • The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States, edited by Edward E. Curtis IV (AS)
  • In an Antique Land by Amitav Ghosh (CH)
  • When Asia Was the World: Traveling Merchants, Scholars, Warriors, and Monks Who Created the “Riches of the East” by Stewart Gordon (CH)
  • Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf, translated by Peter Sluglett (CH)
  • In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar (PV)
  • The Story of the Qur’an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life by Ingrid Mattson (PF)
  • The Ornament of the World by Maria Rosa Menocal (CH)
  • Dreams of Trespass by Fatima Mernissi (LR) (PV)
  • Snow by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely (LR)
  • Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel (AS)
  • The Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam by F. E. Peters (PF)
  • The Art of Hajj by Venetia Porter (PF)
  • Rumi: Poet and Mystic, edited and translated by Reynold A. Nicholson (PF)
  • Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (PV)
  • House of Stone by Anthony Shadid (PV)
  • Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie (PV)
  • The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman’s Journey to Love and Islam by G. Willow Wilson (AS)

Each of these books and the items below are described Themes page.

“Islamic Art Spots”—developed by D. Fairchild Ruggles, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
“Islamic Art Spots” is a series of short videos that will integrate Islamic art and architecture into the discussion of other program books and themes. “Islamic Art Spots” videos will be provided to each awardee on a DVD and made available to all members of the public on the Muslim Journeys website, which will launch in December 2012.


  • Prince Among Slaves (directed by Andrea Kalin, produced by Unity Productions Foundation, 2007)
  • Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World (directed by Rob Gardner, produced by Unity Productions Foundation, 2011)
  • Koran by Heart (directed by Greg Barker, produced by HBO documentary films, 2011)

Oxford Islamic Studies Online

Each awardee will receive a free subscription to Oxford Islamic Studies Online and its vast array of resources. For more information, consult the Frequently Asked Questions (link will open in a new window).

The resources comprising the Bookshelf were recommended, reviewed, and selected by distinguished scholars in the fields of anthropology, world history, religious studies, interfaith dialogue, the history of art and architecture, and world literature, as well as interdisciplinary fields such as Middle East studies, Southeast Asian studies, African studies, and Islamic studies. Six public libraries hosted focus groups to review many of the titles, and all titles were reviewed by ALA members with extensive library programming experience.

Library and Community Programs

In return for receiving a Bookshelf, libraries are required to organize programs that introduce the books and the Muslim Journeys themes to the library’s patrons and the broader community. Programs should take place between January 14, 2013, and December 31, 2013. In addition to the books, films, and other resources listed above, libraries will receive supplemental materials to help publicize and administer public programs.

Each library and library system is encouraged, but not required, to identify and work with one partner organization, such as a performing arts organization, humanities or arts council, museum, civic group, faith-based or interfaith organization, or other group that can cooperate to plan, organize, and extend the audience for public programs. At least one program must take place in the recipient library to emphasize the availability of the Muslim Journeys resources in its collection.

NEH encourages collaboration among libraries within library systems to facilitate community-wide exploration of the Muslim Journeys themes. The online application process enables the central office of a public library system to apply on behalf of all its member libraries, up to a total of one hundred. If you submit an application on behalf of multiple libraries, you as project director will be responsible for communicating with each participating library about the project: for example, sharing with them the narrative statement, notifying them of the award, and ensuring that each library complies with the terms of the award. You will also be responsible for submitting a final performance report that provides an overview of the grant activities conducted in each library.

Programs might include but are not limited to the following:

  • viewing and discussing one or more of the films included in the Bookshelf collection;
  • reading and discussion programs, using multiple copies of books available within a library system;
  • poetry readings and/or musical performances;
  • exhibition of local collections of Islamic art;
  • discussion of the books on local cable TV and radio programs;
  • scholar-facilitated discussions of topics in Islamic history and culture, drawing on the Bookshelf themes and resources; and
  • lectures by local scholars with expertise in the program themes.

For additional programming and publicity ideas, consult the Resources page.

II. Award Information

NEH will award one thousand sets of the Bridging Cultures Muslim Journeys Bookshelf in January 2013. All state and territorial humanities councils that apply will receive a set, and the remainder will be awarded to libraries within the United States and its territories. Each awardee will receive a set of 25 hardcover books for its collection, all related to the Muslim Journeys theme. Additional items in the Bookshelf package include a collection of short videos on Islamic arts (on DVD); three films, Prince Among Slaves, Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World, and Koran by Heart, with public performance rights; and a one-year subscription to Oxford Islamic Studies Online. Each awardee will also receive supplementary materials for program promotion, including bookplates, bookmarks, and posters.

III. Eligibility

All public libraries, community college and academic libraries, and state and territorial humanities councils in the United States and its territories are eligible to apply for the Muslim Journeys collection.

All libraries and library systems are encouraged to partner with one other organization, such as a performing arts organization, arts or humanities council, museum, civic group, or a faith-based or interfaith group, to develop and deliver programs; however, the Bookshelf must be housed in the library to which it is awarded.

Individuals, organizations other than libraries and state and territorial humanities councils, and libraries operated by federal entities, such as the Department of Defense, are not eligible to apply.

Applications may be submitted by

  • an individual library (public, academic, or community college) applying on its own;
  • a public library, library system, or consortium applying on behalf of multiple branches; or
  • a state or territorial humanities council.

Late, incomplete, or ineligible applications will not be reviewed.

IV. Application and Submission Information

NEH will accept applications for the Bookshelf between June 15, 2012, and October 25, 2012.

Please review the Frequently Asked Questions before filling out an application.

Getting Started

To begin the application process, go to

You must complete eight main steps to apply for the Bookshelf:



Before you access the application, you must register to create an application account. Note that the person who submits the application (the “Registrant”) does not need to be the Project Director.

Registrants will receive all messages that respond to the application, including e-mail messages confirming its submission, notifying the applicant that a grant has been awarded, and reminding the grantee to submit a final performance report. For successful applicants, the Registrant’s e-mail address and password must be used to log on and submit the final performance report by January 31, 2014. Please make sure that any spam filters on the registrant e-mail address are set to allow mail from

Books and other grant materials will be shipped to the Project Director, who will be responsible for managing the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf grant for all libraries listed in a successful application. (For multi-library applications, the Registrant may have grant materials shipped to the central project director, or to the attention of local library contacts. For details, see Part 3.)

  • 1. A—LOG IN
    If you have already registered, you may log in using your existing e-mail and password.
    If you have not yet registered, you may do so now.


To begin, you must complete the Applicant Information page.

  • For an individual library application, the Project Director is usually a librarian. For a state or territorial humanities council, the Project Director is a member of the council staff.
  • In an application for multiple libraries, the Project Director is usually someone in the central office of the library system.
  • Note: If you submit an application on behalf of multiple libraries, you as Project Director will be responsible for communicating with each participating library about the project: for example, sharing the narrative statement, notifying them of the award, and ensuring that each library complies with the terms of the award.
  • On the Applicant Information screen, all information is required unless marked otherwise.
  • First Name of Project Director
  • Last Name of Project Director
  • Project Director E-mail Address
  • Project Director Phone Number
  • Project Director Title
  • Name of Applicant Organization (name of individual library, state or territorial humanities council, or library system)
  • Address Line 1 (Street Address only, PO Boxes will not be accepted)
  • Address Line 2 (Second line of street address, if applicable)
  • City/ State/Territory/nine-digit ZIP Code
  • Institution Type (Select one of the following from the pull-down menu: Public Library [single branch], Public Library [multiple branches], Academic Library, Community College Library, State Humanities Council.)
  • Population Size (Select one of the following from the pull-down menu: Under 25,000; 25,000–100,000; 100,000–500,000; Over 500,000.)
  • Congressional District
  • DUNS Number of applicant organization (Find out more about the DUNS Number requirement; link will open in a new window.)
  • Organization Website
  • Select SAVE to save your responses and stay on this page.
  • Select PROCEED to save your responses and move on to the next page.

After clicking either the “SAVE” or the “PROCEED” button, you will be able to return to the application at any time and log in, using your e-mail address and password. This will allow you to edit, save, and return to your application as needed prior to the October 25, 2012, submission deadline.

3. COMPLETE MULTIPLE BRANCH LIBRARY INFORMATION (required for public libraries with multiple branches)

Enter the contact information for each additional library branch on behalf of which you are applying. All information is required.

If your application is selected to receive the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf, books and other materials will be shipped by UPS to each individual library, unless you select the “Central Shipping” option at the top of this page. The “Central Shipping” option will direct all collections to the Applicant Organization address listed on the first page of your application.

  • Enter the Name of the Recipient Library.
  • Enter a valid Shipping Address for the Recipient Library. Do not use a P. O. Box Number.
  • Enter a valid DUNS number for the Recipient Library. (Find out more about the DUNS Number requirement; link will open in a new window.)
  • Enter the Congressional District of the Recipient Library.
  • Enter the Name of a Local Contact Person, to whose attention the books should be sent.
  • Enter a Title for the Local Contact Person.
  • Enter an E-mail Address for the Local Contact Person.
  • Enter the Phone Number of the Local Contact Person.
  • Click “Add” to add this library to your list. The page will return ready to add another library branch. (If you are applying only on behalf of one additional library, you may also click “Proceed” to save your library info and move on to the next page.)
  • To edit an existing entry, select the “Edit” checkbox next to the library’s name in the table, and click “Edit.” The page will return with the library information open for editing. You may edit multiple entries at once.
  • To delete an entry from the table, select the “Delete” checkbox next to the library’s name in the table, and click “Delete.” The page will return with the entry removed from your list. You may delete multiple entries at once.
  • When you are done entering library branches, click “Proceed” to move on to the next page.


All applicants:

To help NEH and ALA prepare for future rounds of grant making, please:

  • indicate your interest in presenting programs about each of the five themes included in the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf, by assigning a numerical ranking to each theme (5 to the theme of greatest interest, 1 to the theme of least interest, etc.); and
  • indicate your interest in hosting arts programming that relates thematically to Muslim Journeys.

Libraries and library systems:

Please provide narrative responses to the following four program planning questions. While you may save your application at any time using the “Save” button, we recommend that you prepare the text using a word processing program, in case of technical problems with your browser. You can then “copy” and “paste” your responses into the appropriate place in the online form. Narrative responses must be 600 words or fewer in length.

  1. Please tell us about your decision to apply for the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf. Why do you think this topic will be of interest to your community and patrons, and what programming goals might it help your library address?
  2. How will your library use the books included as part of the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf to present programs? Be sure to include information about how you will encourage library patrons to read the materials included on the Bookshelf and engage your community in exploring the theme.
  3. Tell us about your plans to present programs that introduce the books and the Muslim Journeys themes to the library’s patrons and broader community. Please provide details about the format and structure, scheduling and promotion, and any speakers, presenters and/or facilitators who will be involved in each program that your library will present. Include copies of presenters’ CVs in the “Supporting Materials” section of the application, as applicable.
  4. Optional: Each library or library system that receives a Muslim Journeys Bookshelf is encouraged to collaborate with at least one community partner. Please tell us about your partner organization and how it will be involved in your programming and promotional efforts. Then, use the available fields to include your primary partner organization’s name, and select an organization type from the pull-down menu.

State Humanities Councils

Check all the boxes that apply and follow all other online instructions to complete this part of the application.

5. AFFIRM GRANT REQUIREMENTS AND UPLOAD SUPPORTING MATERIALS (required only for libraries and library systems)

Please affirm that, if awarded the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf on Muslim Journeys, your institution will comply with each of the following requirements:

  • add all books and DVDs provided through the grant to your library’s circulating collection;
  • host at least one public event that introduces the books and the Muslim Journeys themes to the library’s patrons and broader community;
  • offer free admission to all related public events;
  • use designated sponsor credits and/or logos on all publicity materials;
  • (only for multiple-branch libraries) coordinate communication with participating sites throughout the grant period; and
  • file an online final performance report with the American Library Association by January 31, 2014.

Then, upload any additional documents relevant to your application (for example, letters of support from community partners, résumés or CVs for speakers and scholars). You may upload a maximum of four files, each no larger than 5MB. Accepted file formats include pdf, doc, docx, rtf, xls, xlsx, csv, jpg, png, gif, tif. The file upload section of the application is optional.


An application for the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf is an application for an award from the National Endowment for the Humanities, an agency of the federal government. ALA is required by law to ask applicants to identify for each application a Certifying Official, who is authorized to apply on behalf of the organization.

  • For individual libraries, this will be the person authorized to submit applications for funding on behalf of the library. Depending on the institution, this could be the director of the library or another library administrator.
  • For applications on behalf of multiple libraries, this will be a person authorized to submit applications for funding on behalf of the whole library system.
  • For state and territorial humanities councils, this will be the council’s executive director or staff member with responsibility for the project.

To complete this section, you must enter all of the following information:

  • First name of Certifying Official
  • Last name of Certifying Official
  • Title of Certifying Official
  • E-mail address for Certifying Official
  • Telephone Number for Certifying Official
  • Organization represented by Certifying Official (library system or consortium name, if application is for multiple sites).
  • Certification box (required)

Check the “Certification” box to indicate acceptance by the Certifying Official of the following language:

By checking this box and submitting this application, the authorized representative for the applicant organization certifies that all statements contained herein are true and correct to the best of his or her knowledge and belief; and that the applicant organization (including, when pertinent, each additional library branch on whose behalf it is applying) is neither presently debarred, suspended, proposed for debarment, declared ineligible, nor voluntarily excluded from participation in this transaction by any federal department or agency.

You can check the status of your institution with regard to debarment at the website of the Excluded Parties List System (link will open in a new window).


The Review and Edit page summarizes all the information that you have entered. From this page you can

  • review and edit each section,
  • save the entire application and log out of the system, or
  • move ahead to submit your application.


Once you have completed all parts of your application, you may submit it at any time by selecting the “Submit Application” button. All applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. C.S.T. on October 25, 2012. Applications submitted after that time will be considered ineligible.

Note that once you have submitted your application, you can no longer alter it. The application will be deemed ready for review.

You will receive via e-mail a confirmation of the submission of your application. At the confirmation page you will be able to print out a copy of your application, which you should keep.

V. Application Review

Selection Criteria

Applications from libraries and library systems will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • How persuasive is the applicant’s case that the Bookshelf is of interest to its community and its patrons, and that it will help the library advance its own programming goals?
  • How sound are the library’s plans to encourage library patrons to read the materials and explore the themes of the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf?
  • How well conceived are the programs, and how likely are they to appeal to broad public audiences in the community?
  • How effective are the library’s plans to work with one or more partners in its planning and promotional efforts?

Review and Selection Process

Each application from a library or library system will be assessed by a review panel of librarians in collaboration with the staff of ALA and NEH. Evaluators may take geographical and demographic distribution into consideration when selecting awardees. The Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities will make the final decision.

VI. Award Administration Information

  • Application Deadline: October 25, 2012, 11:59 p.m. C.S.T.
  • Award Notification: January 9, 2013
  • Books and materials shipped to Grantees: January 9, 2013
  • Programming Period: January 14, 2013, through December 31, 2013
  • Final Performance Report Due: January 31, 2014

Award Notices

Applicants will be notified of the decision via e-mail by January 9, 2013.

Administrative Requirements

Before submitting an application, applicants should review the Assurances on Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Handicap, which can be found in the Responsibilities of Award Recipients document (link will open in a new window).

Reporting Requirements

Award recipients will be required to submit a one-page online final performance report to the American Library Association by January 31, 2014.

VII. Points of Contact

If you have questions about the program, contact:

American Library Association
1–800–545–2433, ext. 5045


Bridging Cultures
National Endowment for the Humanities
Room 511
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20506

Other Information

Privacy Policy

Information in these guidelines is solicited under the authority of the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965, as amended, 20 U.S.C. 956. The principal purpose for which the information will be used is to process the grant application. The information may also be used for statistical research, analysis of trends, and Congressional oversight. Failure to provide the information may result in the delay or rejection of the application.

Application Completion Time

The Office of Management and Budget requires federal agencies to supply information on the time needed to complete forms and also to invite comments on the paperwork burden. NEH estimates that the average time to complete this application is three hours per response. This estimate includes time for reviewing instructions, researching, gathering, and maintaining the information needed, and completing and reviewing the application. Please send any comments regarding the estimated completion time or any other aspect of this application, including suggestions for reducing the completion time, to the Chief Guidelines Officer, at; the Office of Publications, National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, DC 20506; and the Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reduction Project (3136–0134), Washington, DC 20503. According to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, no persons are required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a valid OMB number.