Library Program Explores Muslim Culture

Upper St. Clair Library received a programming grant for Muslim Journeys, a study of Muslim culture and religion.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about Muslim culture, Dormont librarian Diana D’Agostino said. Talk is often negative, and the religion is often misunderstood.

Dormont Public Library, Upper St. Clair Library and more than 800 others across the country are hoping to change that perspective through a new, grant-funded program that explores Muslim culture and religion.

“We’re really not that different, which is something a lot of people don’t realize,” D’Agostino said. “We’re hoping, mostly, that people will come to these programs and come away with a more informed opinion of Islam.”

The Muslim Journeys program was made possible by a one-year grant from the National Endowment for Humanities and the American Library Association.

Each participating library received a set of 25 books and three DVDs related to the religion and culture of Muslim life. The libraries will keep the materials after the one-year program ends.

Each library’s programming is slightly different, but most include discussions with Muslim scholars, book discussions and programs for children, and an asset from Dormont Library will be shared throughout the county.

D’Agostino, who was raised Christian and is now a practicing Muslim, put together a “book trunk” of items that better explain Muslim culture, to supplement the grant materials.

The trunk will travel to other Allegheny County libraries throughout the year, to be used for their own programming. It includes Muslim boy and girl dolls that say phrases used in Islam, a copy of the Qur’an that is color coded with Arabic language translation, prayer rugs, books for children and adults and music.

Library director Cindy D’Agostino said her daughter’s commitment to and teaching of Islam has opened her eyes to the ways Muslim culture is similar to the Christian and Jewish cultures, and she hopes the program will help others see that, too. 

“There’s a lot of overlaps between three religions,” she said. “Just like when you learn about any group that’s different, you also learn the similarities and learn that there are things to be appreciated.”

The following items are attached to this article in PDF format:

  • Muslim Journeys programming schedule for Dormont Library.
  • Muslim Journeys programming schedule for Carnegie Library, Forbes Avenue.
  • A full list of participating libraries.
Roger February 28, 2013 at 02:21 PM
Quoting: "... D’Agostino, who was raised Christian and is now a practicing Muslim, ..." Excuse me, but nobody is "raised" Christian. There is not one biblical reference for such a statement. There are plenty of exhortations about teaching children, but not one about "raising" anybody. Christianity has no teaching that remotely suggests one's salvation is dependent upon the belief of another. These kinds of statements reveal how little some understand the Christian faith and biblical teaching. If this person is so far afield with Christianity, why would anybody believe any teaching associated with the Muslim faith? These kinds of programs demonstrate why we have deviated so far on what our country had as its foundation. Claiming grant money for the purposes of teaching this material may be politically correct, but shows how we are quick to pamper those who despise us as a country. Suggesting there are similarities between the Muslim faith is a failed strategy. Christianity is all, and only about the eternal destiny of our afterlife. Nothing in the Muslim faith bears any resemblance to the biblical teaching of the eternal destiny question. Trying to trend Christianity onto the same path as the Muslim faith on these matters is ignoring the very basic message of the Bible.
C. Wilson February 28, 2013 at 02:26 PM
I guess if you get grant money anything is ok. How about looking at the factual way this religion/political system is practiced in the countries where this is established. No bias here!!!
WW February 28, 2013 at 04:53 PM
Most people of “faith,” Christians included, would stand to benefit from a non-denominational study of all religions, including theirs. A “devout Christian,” firm in their beliefs, shouldn’t be afraid to learn about another religion or have their faith being questioned or challenged by another religion. As long as this is being taught as the HISTORY of the Islamic faith, from its origins until now, and what their belief system is, I’m all for it. I would be equally in favor of a course explaining the HISTORICAL origins of Christianity and how the beliefs, customs, and traditions were shaped and adapted over the centuries by those in power to remain in power to control the uneducated, superstitious masses. One that doesn’t sugar coat the terrible stuff or ignore the contradictions contained within their particular holy book by just focusing on the nice stuff. I suggest Christians just pray really hard that this class won’t happen, I’m sure that will work.
Glenn Robinson February 28, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Turning a blind eye to our own ignorance is a significant problem with many people in this country. When we fail to listen because we fear the message, we do a disservice to ourselves and our neighbors. Be open to knowledge. Listen with a critical ear. Weed out fact from fiction and opinion. And grow.
Roger March 01, 2013 at 02:14 PM
WW and Glenn, I don't disagree with your statements about knowledge and understanding. I am a strong advocate of education, any subject, any level. WW, I couldn't agree with you more about Christians knowing what they believe. But, remember Christianity is not religion, so please don't include in the sweeping generality. However, when we read the article, the two things jump off the page, "... raised a Christian...," and "... learn the similarities ...." This is a huge red flag about this person's understanding of the Christian faith. It makes clear that person involved is not qualified to be speaking about this topic. Credibility is lost with these kinds of statements. As stated above, beware of these kinds of classes, with an agenda. If anybody considering these classes does not have an alert raised with these statements, they should find another source for their education. This one is blatant in distortion.


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