Muslim Heritage Month Recommended Reading - Clifton Public Library List for Adult Readers


January 2024 marks the first official Muslim Heritage Month in New Jersey! Cliftonites join in celebrating the vibrant Muslim communities who call New Jersey home and recognizing the wide ranging  contributions of Muslim Americans who enrich our communities across the nation.

Assembly Joint Resolution 194 and Senate Joint Resolution 105 were signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy on April 29, 2023, declaring January Muslim Heritage Month. The Proclamation of Muslim Heritage Month highlights that the history of Muslims in the United States dates back to before the country’s founding, originating with enslaved Africans, an estimated 30 percent of whom were Muslim. Throughout the history of America, successive waves of Muslim immigrants from all over the world have created a very diverse Muslim community. There are nearly 300,000 Muslim Americans in New Jersey, which represents one of the largest Muslim-American populations of any state in the United States. Numerous Muslim Americans are dedicated to public service in their communities, seeking to promote peace and mutual understanding between all faiths and identities while upholding the values and principles of Islam. The Proclamation goes on to remind us that incidents of anti-Muslim violence are still prevalent in the state and educational initiatives are critical to combat bigotry. The NJ Muslim Heritage Month Coalition lists events throughout the state to celebrate.

The Clifton Main Memorial Library has curated a Muslim Heritage Month reading list for The Clifton Times, which features a wide range of books recommended for adult readers, selected by Supervising Librarian Pat John Ferro. These books serve as a reminder of the incredible diversity of the Muslim community and their many contributions to the world and the story of America.

We have included a link to each book’s publisher with a brief summary from the publishers’ websites. Cliftonites can stop by the Clifton Main Memorial Library or the Allwood Branch from Monday through Saturday to pick up a copy of any of these books. Patrons can also place holds on any of these books through PALS Plus. For the Clifton Public Library hours of operation and more information please see HERE.

Rebel Music: Race, Empire, And The New Muslim Youth Culture – Hisham Aidi In this pioneering study, Aidi—an expert on globalization and social movements—takes us into the musical subcultures that have emerged among Muslim youth worldwide over the last decades, from the banlieues of Paris to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, from the park jams of the South Bronx to the Sufi rock bands of Pakistan. Aidi situates these developments in a broader historical context, tracing longstanding connections between Islam and African-American music.

Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case For Liberty – Mustafa Akyol This book traces the ideological and historical roots of political Islam. The years following Muhammad's passing in 632 AD saw an intellectual "war of ideas" rage between rationalist, flexible schools of Islam and the more dogmatic, rigid ones. Akyol explores the history of liberalism under the Ottoman Empire and offers an intellectual basis for the reconciliation of Islam and religious, political, economic, and social freedoms.

1001 Inventions: The Enduring Legacy Of Muslim Civilization – Salim T.S. Al-Hassani ed. This fascinating book takes readers on a journey through years of Islamic history to discover one thousand fascinating scientific and technological inventions still being used throughout the world. The book covers seven aspects of life relatable to everyone, including home, school, hospital, market, town, world, and universe.

Idea Of The Muslim World: A Global Intellectual History – Cemil Aydin When President Obama visited Cairo to address Muslims worldwide, he followed in the footsteps of countless politicians who have taken the existence of a unified global Muslim community for granted. But as Aydin explains in this provocative history, it is a misconception to think that the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims constitute a single entity. How did this belief arise, and why is it so widespread?

Pious Fashion: How Muslim Women Dress – Liz Bucar For many Westerners, the Islamic veil is the ultimate sign of women’s oppression. But Liz Bucar’s take on clothing worn by Muslim women is a far cry from older attitudes. She argues that modest clothing represents much more than social control or religious orthodoxy. Today, headscarves are styled to frame the head and face in interesting ways, while colors and textures express individual tastes and challenge aesthetic preconceptions. Bucar invites readers to join her in three Muslim-majority nations as she surveys how women approach the question “What to wear?”

Muslim Americans In The Military: Centuries Of Service – Edward E. Curtis There is a long history of Muslim service members who have defended their country and struggled to practice their faith. Profiling soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors since the dawn of our country, Curtis showcases the real stories of Muslim Americans, from Omer Otmen, who fought fiercely against German forces during World War I, to Captain Humayun Khan, who gave his life in Iraq in 2004. These true stories contradict the narratives of hate and fear that have dominated recent headlines, revealing the contributions and sacrifices that these soldiers have made to the United States.

Heavenly Bites: The Best Of Muslim Home Cooking – Karimah bint Dawood The first multinational Muslim cookbook that features the best of Muslim cooking to be found from Morocco to Bangladesh.

Letters to a Young Muslim – Omar Sail Ghobash This series of personal and insightful letters from a father to his sons offers a vital manifesto that tackles the dilemmas facing not only young Muslims but everyone navigating the complexities of today’s world. Written with the experience of a diplomat and the personal responsibility of a father, Ghobash’s letters offer understanding and balance, and provide an understanding of the everyday struggles Muslims face around the globe.

The First Muslim: The Story Of Muhammad – Lesley Hazleton For all the iconic power of his name, the intensely dramatic story of the prophet of Islam is not well known. In The First Muslim, Lesley Hazleton brings him vibrantly to life. Drawing on early eyewitness sources and on history, politics, religion, and psychology, she renders him as a man in full, in all his complexity and vitality. Hazleton’s account follows the arc of Muhammad’s rise from powerlessness to power, from anonymity to renown, from insignificance to lasting significance.

Burqas, Baseball, And Apple Pie: Being Muslim In America – Ranya Idilby In this moving memoir, Idliby discusses not only coming to terms with what it means to be Muslim today but how to raise and teach her children about their heritage and religious legacy. She explores life as a Muslim in a world where hostility towards Muslims runs rampant, where there is an entire industry financed and supported by think tanks, authors, filmmakers, and individual vigilantes whose sole purpose is to vilify and spread fear about all things Muslim. Her story is quintessentially American, a story of the struggles of assimilation and acceptance in a climate of confusion and prejudice--a story for anyone who has experienced being an “outsider” inside your own home country.

Dome Of The Rock – Said Nuseibeh The Dome of the Rock is one of the most visited sites in Islam. With its shining golden outer dome, richly tiled walls, and mosaic-laden interiors upheld by gleaming marble columns, it constitutes a treasury of Islamic sacred decor. This art book features stunning photography of the Dome of the Rock, which commemorates many things, including a central Islamic mystical event, the Night Journey of the prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem. Nuseibeh's color plates afford many closer views of details than could be enjoyed on the site itself, and perhaps better perspectives and panoramas of the shrine and its surroundings, as well.

If you know of other wonderful books that celebrate Muslim contributions, spotlight Muslim Americans, or share pieces of Muslim culture, please leave their titles and authors as a comment here for others to see.

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