By Janelle Yahne
On November 21, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm, the library is presenting a reading and talk by Saladin Ahmed, “Writing Muslim American Fantasy.” The event is open to the public and is free. Parking is available at the Bostwick (Main) Ramp. Ahmed is an amazing fiction author and poet from Detroit whose writing has been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards. In honor of this exciting evening, each week until the event we will be showcasing a theme from Muslim Journeys Bookshelf as we move closer to this special event at the library.
From Muslim Journeys Bookshelf: Connected Histories
Developed by Giancarlo Casale, University of Minnesota
Centuries before the dawn of the modern age—even before the voyages of Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan—the world was already a surprisingly interconnected place. Braving the high seas and the desert sands, merchants peddled their wares from the Mediterranean to China. Scientists and scholars, drawn to the far corners of the world by a thirst for knowledge, traveled just as far, searching out their peers and sharing the latest ideas about the mysteries of nature. And missionaries and holy men, as they spread the good word of their respective faiths, plied the same roads—inevitably meeting one another, debating the merits of their divergent creeds, and taking inspiration from each other as they pondered the meaning of life and the nature of the divine.
All of the books in this list explore this theme of “connected histories,” a new way of understanding the past in which Islam and the West, far from being locked in an endless “clash of civilizations,” are seen instead as products of this cosmopolitan and inextricably intertwined history. By highlighting the intellectual inheritance shared by Islam and the West, their mutual bonds of monotheism, and the surprising intensity of their cultural and commercial interaction, as well as the individual experiences of the many merchants, missionaries, and other adventurers who journeyed “to the other shore,” these books all chart a path to a new vision of the world of our ancestors, a world that was as remarkably complex and dynamically interconnected as the one we live in today.
List of Books for Connected Histories
- When Asia Was the World: Traveling Merchants, Scholars, Warriors, and Monks Who Created the “Riches of the East” by Stewart Gordon
- The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance by Jim Al-Khalili
- The Ornament of the World by Maria Rosa Menocal
- Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf, translated by Peter Sluglett
- In an Antique Land by Amitav Ghosh