The five scholar-led discussion sessions corresponding to the books in the series are the minimum requirement for participating Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys libraries. Libraries are encouraged to hold related programs such as film series, forums, receptions, lectures, and related exhibits, to expand the reach and impact of the Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys series. Here are some suggestions and ideas for related programs:
Muslim Journeys Programming
- Host a Muslim Journeys welcome celebration with a display of the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf books, films, and promotional materials. Include readers’ guides to selected topics or titles in the set, give away bookmarks, and feature readings from the books.
- Present a discussion of the books and films on local cable TV and radio programs.
- Host an exhibition of local collections of Islamic art in your library, kicked off with a launch event highlighting the Muslim Journeys collection materials.
- Present a scholar-facilitated discussion of a topic in Islamic history or culture, drawing on the Muslim Journeys themes and resources.
- Schedule a lecture by a local scholar with expertise in the program themes.
- Host an event celebrating the poetic voices of Muslim-majority societies, featuring readings from Rumi: Poet and Mystic and other related works already in your library’s collection. You may also consider launching a “One Community, Many Poems” program, encouraging your community to read and discuss Islamic poetry.
- Invite a local storyteller to present readings from The Arabian Nights, or partner with a community or school theatre group to host a staged reading of selections or an adaptation.
- Create a Muslim Journeys webpage featuring the titles of the books, including images of the book jackets, book quotes, and patron or staff reviews. Have a librarian moderate an online discussion through the library’s blog or Facebook account.
- Ask the local newspaper, cable access television station, or radio station to feature a story or editorial about the Muslim Journeys collection and your library’s related programs. Be sure to contact book editors and well as news and feature editors.
Film and Video Programming
Film and video showings are very popular related programming options. Here are some guideposts for good film and video programming practices:
- Libraries wishing to show films or videos related to the Let’s Talk About It series to the public must arrange for public performance rights (PPR). Note that films included as part of the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys have already been approved for public performances. For more information, see Copyright Tips for Programming Librarians: Public Performance Rights on Programming Librarian.
- Swank Motion Pictures, Inc. offers a Movie Public Performance Site License to public libraries on an annual basis.
- Please share information about films and videos with other libraries via the electronic discussion list. The ALA Public Programs Office will also pass along to you any film information we find.
In addition to those included on the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys, here are some additional films to consider for supplemental programming, with the related Muslim Journeys theme noted where applicable:
- Bombay (Mani Ratnam, director, 1995): In January 1993, sectarian rioting erupted after Hindus destroyed an ancient mosque in northern India, leaving 2,000 Hindus and Muslims dead in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). Two years later, Mani Ratnam made the film Bombay, using these events as a backdrop to a love story between a Hindu boy and a Muslim girl. The film focuses on religious and ethnic conflict in Hindu-majority and Muslim-minority India and a passionate romance that tries to overcome it, but not without putting the mixed-faith couple and their children in danger from extremists on both sides of the religious divide. Even though it caused controversy in India, the film was very popular, and won several awards in international film festivals. (Literary Reflections)
- Color of Paradise (Majid Majidi, director, 1999): Color of Paradise, whose Persian title literally translates to “The Color of God,” is the story of the struggle of a blind Iranian boy and his father to coexist in contemporary Iran. Mohammad is the blind son of the widower Hashem, who is worried that his son’s condition will get in the way of his own plans to remarry into a prosperous family. Mohammad is a smart and gentle boy who loves his studies in Tehran’s school for the blind and is deeply loved by his grandmother and two sisters back in his native village. God is ever present in this explicitly religious film, from the opening scene, where the words “To the glory of God” appear on a black screen, to Mohammad’s intimate relationship with the nature around him, his full participation—along with his grandmother, Aziz—in the joys of life in this earthly world, and the moment of suffering experienced by Hashem at the end of the film that brings him closer to enlightenment. (Literary Reflections)
- Inside the Koran: A Journey into the Heart of Islam (Antony Thomas, director, 2008): An acclaimed documentary film, Inside the Koran focuses on the Islamic holy scripture by means of a topical treatment of its teachings in the everyday life of Muslims in the real world. These topics include the relationship between the sexes; Islam’s roots in Judaism and Christianity; tolerance and intolerance both within and beyond Muslim contexts; the differences between Sunni and Shia Islam; crime and punishment; and the ways in which the Qur’an is printed, reproduced, and dispersed globally. Some controversial issues are addressed about how the scriptural text evolved from early Islamic history into its contemporary canonical form. The film concludes with a discussion of the “twenty-first-century Qur’an,” with a focus on the impact of the Internet. (Pathways of Faith)
- Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta (Bruce Neibaur, director, 2009): This superb production dramatically traces the pilgrimage of the legendary medieval Muslim traveler Ibn Battuta from his home city of Tangiers to the sacred Arabian city of Mecca in 1325 CE. The narrative is based on Ibn Battuta’s personal diary account of the journey, which included being attacked by bandits and suffering through sandstorms, among other dangers. After crossing all of North Africa, Ibn Battuta was persuaded by a new friend to join a caravan of 10,000 pilgrims journeying south from Damascus to Mecca in relative safety. Ibn Battuta and his fellow Muslims are portrayed by excellent actors, and the sacred sites are rendered with convincing medieval settings and details. But the film is also a presentation of the ritual details of the hajj as the narrative switches in a respectfully entertaining manner from the historical settings to the contemporary context. The action flows in its proper liturgical pattern in the Mecca of today, with its tall modern buildings overlooking the ancient open-air hajj mosque with its central cubical Ka’aba structure marking the center of the world for Muslims, toward which they prostrate themselves from all directions on the globe in their five daily prayers. (Pathways of Faith)
- Me and the Mosque (Zarqa Nawaz, director, 2005): This documentary film nicely complements Leila Ahmed’s book A Quiet Revolution on the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf. It tells the story of Muslim women’s struggle for social justice within mosques in North America. It also demonstrates how Islamist struggles for social justice have influenced a new generation of Muslim women activists fighting for gender equality in Islam. (American Stories)
- Stand Up: Muslim-American Comics Come of Age (Glenn Baker, Omar Naim, directors, 2009): Following the attacks of 9/11, American Muslims came under suspicion from both the government and their fellow Americans. This hilarious PBS documentary shows how five American Muslims employed comedy as a means of expressing American Muslim experiences to a national audience. (American Stories)
The following websites may be useful in obtaining additional information about these and other related films, including release dates, reviews, and distribution information: