Middle East studies in the News
East Lansing Public Library and MSU Libraries Team Up to Create New Muslim Book Club [incl. Mohammad Khalil]
by Josh Bender
Creating mutual understanding between people of different faiths begins at a grassroots level. The MSU Libraries, East Lansing Public Library and leaders from the Islamic community on campus and in the Lansing area hope to educate both students and non-students through their new Muslim Journeys Book Club.
The club will meet several times during the academic year to discuss books important to Muslims or addressing issues important to Muslims. The meetings will feature speakers from MSU's faculty followed by group discussions.
The club's organizers hope to promote an interfaith dialogue by creating shared experiences.
"The idea is to bring people together around a book so that, even if you're not Muslim and know very little about Islam, you'll have read the book and have something to talk about," Middle Eastern studies and anthropology librarian Deborah Margolisch said. "Something to contribute from your own experience."
The club's participating faculty members hope to educate Muslims and non-Muslims alike about the misconceptions many Muslim people face.
"There are many misconceptions about Muslims in America, and there are many misconceptions among Muslims about America," director of MSU's Muslim Studies Program Mohammad Khalil said. "These kinds of programs are meant to improve the discourse"
For the club's participants the event is not only intellectually engaging, but practical as well.
"This is an opportunity to gain a new perspective on a topic I'm researching," teacher education doctoral student Kongji Qin said. "My research participant's religious identity really shaped a lot of the ways he does things in the classroom."
The book club grew out of a previous five part educational series centered on Islam sponsored by the Main Library, local religious leaders and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Margolis said.
The NEH awarded the Main Library a grant for the program along with more than 800 other libraries across the country, Margolis said.
After the grant program ended, the desire to continue studying Islam and Muslim experiences remained among those involved.
"Since it was a national program they did a follow up evaluation with leaders from the program," Margolis said. "One of the other people evaluating how the program went was from a prison library in New York state and talked about all these ways they were continuing with the program."Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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