The Somerville Public Library announces a new book discussion series entitled, “Muslim Journeys,” beginning on Thursday, May 30 at 6:30 p.m. with a discussion of Jim al-Khalili’s book, House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance. The program is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association, and aims to familiarize the American public with Islam and the cultural heritage of Islamic civilizations around the world. The May 30 discussion will be led by Tufts University Professor Malik Mufti, a professor of international relations and politics of the Middle East. The program is free and open to the public. Partners include the Center for Arabic Culture and Tufts University.

“The Somerville Public Library brings people together to learn about ideas, each other, and our greater humanity,” said Maria Carpenter, Director of the Somerville Public Library. “We think the Muslim Journeys project is particularly important as it is intended to promote tolerance and understanding and for community members to learn more about and celebrate the many contributions of Muslim Americans.”

House of Wisdom is one of the titles from the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys Collection, which the SPL recently acquired through a grant.  Muslim Journeys is a project of the National Endowment for the Humanities, conducted in cooperation with the American Library Association.  Major support for the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf was provided by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. Additional support for the arts and media components was provided by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

About House of Wisdom:

With transporting detail, Al-Khalili places the reader in the intellectual and cultural hothouses of the Arab Enlightenment: the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, one of the world’s greatest academies, the holy city of Isfahan, the melting pots of Damascus and Cairo, and the embattled Islamic outposts of Spain. – Penguin Press

Al-Khalili brings to life a vibrant intellectual period of Islamic history when there was not only tolerance for other religions and cultures but a synergy between science and Islam. Anyone interested in the early history of science or the development of the scientific method before Galileo will find this an engaging study.  – Cynthia Knight, Library Journal review

For more information about the event or the Muslim Journeys series, see


4 Responses to “Somerville Public Library announces new ‘Muslim Journeys’ book discussion series”

  1. Tom says:

    Interesting. How much of this discussion will be about the way Muslims have for centuries persecuted Christians, gays, and women? In other words, will this be an honest discussion of both sides of Islam, or another ‘celebration’ of Islam, with no mention of the radical Islamists that have terrorized people for generations? If it does not intend to be honest, I find it offensive that it is being presented by a public library, which should be a bastion of thought. Intellectual thought would include all aspects of a story.

  2. amen says:

    I’m ok as long as they make some type of comment separating themselves from radical criminals. very few Muslims are willing to do this. can’t blame them for the nuts, but if they don’t speak up, it’s a really bad signal.

  3. Bostom says:


    I’m sure you’ll also want them to include some information on the Crusades (when Christians slaughtered Muslims as they invaded their lands), on the expulsion, murder, and forced conversion of Muslims in Spain in the 1400’s, on the exploitation of natural resources in the Middle East by the British and the United States for a century or more (a major source of many of our troubles there today) and so on.

    And if religious radicalization is on your agenda, let’s not forget the Inquisition and more modern forms of intolerance by Christians for not only Muslims but for Jews, Roma, gays, and the physically and mentally challenged. And African Americans, the way the godly Brits treated their non-white colonial subjects. Caroline Elkin’s “Imperial Reckoning” is a good place to start, detailing as it does how the godly Brits as recently as 1957 tortured and murdered the Mau Mau in concentration camps in Kenya.

    Or maybe, instead of trying to politicize the book discussion series before it starts you could participate and see what they’re doing; see if indeed they’re covering the stated “aim to familiarize the American public with Islam and the cultural heritage of Islamic civilizations around the world.” Of course, you might instead want to go off topic and pursue your agenda, which doesn’t seem to have much to do with theirs, but that’s really up to you.

  4. Anne says:

    Tom, I’m not aware of the library doing informational seminars on any other religion. Are you?

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