‘Muslim Journeys’ continues at Louisiana Tech
Sixteen area residents gathered recently on the Louisiana Tech campus in Ruston for the opening session of “Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys, American Stories,” a series of lectures, readings and discussions focused on the Muslim experience in America. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8 in University Hall, Room 121. Parking is available in Keeny Circle and in the Old Columns lot behind Prescott Library on Railroad Avenue. Admission is free and all interested members of the public are invited. The series will conclude Tuesday, Oct. 29. At the first meeting, Dr. Ahmad Nazir Atassi, a Tech assistant professor of history and facilitator and discussion leader for the series, introduced the program and provided background notes on the origins of Islam, its relation to Christianity and Judaism, the long but little known history of Muslims in America, and other points of interest. Much of the discussion that followed focused on the cultural and historical significance of veiling for Muslim women, as reflected in the reading selected for the evening, “A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America,” by Egyptian anthropologist Leila Ahmed. As “Muslim Journeys” continues, the next session will focus on the Muslim experience in America from the 18th century to the First World War. The selected reading is Terry Alford’s “Prince Among Slaves,” the story of Abd al Rahman Ibrahima. Son of an African ruler, Ibrahima was captured and sold to slave traders. He spent much of his life enslaved on a plantation near Natchez, Miss., but he never lost his dignity or his desire for freedom. Future sessions will deal with American Muslims since World War I, cultural encounters and cultural integration, and American Muslim politics between identity and 9/11. A member of the Tech faculty since 2007, Ahmad Nazir Atassi holds a Ph.D. in history and religious studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He teaches courses on Middle East history, the history of Islam and the history of U.S.-Middle East relations. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association, “Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys, American Stories” is part of the Readings in Literature and Culture (RELIC) program of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. Books scheduled for discussion are available for loan to discussion participants and must be returned at the conclusion of the series. For more information, to join the program or to borrow book sets, contact the department of history at 318-257-2872, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.