Muslim Journeys Bookshelf

muslim-home-left-art The Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys Grant, through the National Endowment for the Humanities, in cooperation with the American Library Association and the Ali Vural Ak Center at George Mason University, has enriched 950 recipients among libraries and state humanities councils.

The winning institutions receive a collection of books covering themes: American Stories, Connected Histories, Literary Reflections, Pathways of Faith, and Points of View. Although I would have wished a few other authors included, I am very pleased to see Ingrid Mattson’s The Story of the Qur’an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life, G. Willow Wilson’s The Butterfly Mosque:  A Young American Woman’s Journey to Love and Islam, and Eboo Patel’s Acts of Faith, the last of which was a required reading assignment for incoming students to Elmhurst College.

In addition, there are 3 DVDs: Prince Among Slaves (2007), Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World (2011), and Koran by Heart (2011). I’ve coaxed my library to rush the processing of the art film, as it is a new acquisition, and have it reserved for me to be the first patron, hopefully to share it with others.

One of the benefits with an expiration date is access to the Oxford Islamic Studies Online Database for a year. This is only for those who have a library account via their local institution for log-in. See the following link to reference if your library is included:

Finally, Islamic Art Spots is a DVD of seven video essays which provide an introduction to Islamic art and architecture related to the project themes. The entire Muslim Journeys collection contents can be viewed at


Nearing the end of the dreaded month of March, with its tenuous grip on winter, I’m relieved to be on the homestretch. Two weeks ago, I managed to injure my back while merely brushing my teeth before dawn. Determined to heal quickly, I’d alternated walking 5 mile days with days of rest, and I was glad to make it out and walk/run today about 3 miles with out incident. However, it was not pleasant to be dashing between snow flurries that morphed into tortuous slapping of my face with pins of sleet. Spring indeed! Meanwhile, my niece and nephew in Phoenix are cavorting in their pool with expectations of summer.

The ISNA Education Forum is near and the rest of this week will be devoted to preparations while I monitor my children who are all on Spring (hmph!) Break. I’m looking forward to next week already when I can split my brain only between Halal brainstorming meetings and our export business strategic planning.

Halal Fests Making a Wave in America!

Halal Food Tour Realizing the potential of Halal foodies at their community’s Halal Food Festival, co-founders of the popular web show Sameer’s Eats, Sameer S. Sarmast and Saad Malik, were blown away when the anticipated 1000 attendees swelled to a wave of 4000! Last August’s festival was planned with the local New Jersey Muslim Youth Community Center (, and Malik reported that most vendors even ran out of food. Mesmerized by the diverse crowd, Malik turned to his partner and said, “Dude, this is mind boggling. We need to take this on the road.”

Stoked by inspiration, Sarmast confirmed, “We saw that great Halal food brings people together no matter their race, religion, or professional background. This year we’ve decided to spread Halal food across America. We’re putting on five big events in five cities. We look forward to working with local organizations in each city to help their initiatives and more.”

The Halal Food Tour ( has them partnered with Yvonne Maffei, the personable and effervescent publisher, cookbook author, and blogger of My Halal Kitchen ( The five city tour will kick off with Los Angeles on April 13th; then to New York in June, Washington DC in August, Chicago in October, and finally to Houston in December.

Besides appearances by Maffei, several other celebrities have signed on to appear at some of the venues. Mo Sabri, singer and lyricist; Preacher Moss, the thought provoking writer and founder of “Allah Made Me Funny” Muslim Comedy Tour; Aman Ali, reporter, storyteller, and co-creator of “30 Mosques in 30 Days;” and Omar Regan, who is best known for his acting and comedy talent. This creative production team is seeking many more popular Muslim personalities and businesses in each city that represent the diverse American Muslim landscape. The ticketed events are expected to bring much publicity to the nascent Halal Movement in America.


Also inspired by the huge attendance of the New Jersey festival, Irfan Rydhan, the Event Director of Jam-Productions is collaborating in partnership with Atif Qureshi of ( the world’s largest guide to Halal Restaurants and Products) and Javed Ali, founder of ILLUME Media ( to produce “California’s First Halal Food & Eid Festival” aka “Halal Fest” ( for August 17th in the main parking lot of NewPark Mall in Newark, CA.

The event is open to the public and is scheduled approximately 1 week after Eid ul-Fitr. Rydhan stated that their intent is to cultivate awareness of delicious Halal food, promote Muslim businesses, and express diversity and cultures in an atmosphere of fun for the whole family with children’s air jumpers, super slide, and merry-go-round. Halal Fest will feature Halal food trucks, restaurant booths, and a large bazaar with approximately 30 vendors selling a variety of clothing, jewelry, arts & crafts, books, and other novelties.

Nationally recognized Chef Jimmy Sujanto of Padi Restaurant in Berkeley, CA that features Indonesian Halal dishes, will be there to conduct a Live Cooking Demonstration. Representing a variety of cuisines, arrangements have been made for Indo-Pakistani , Middle Eastern, African-American Soul Food, and Indian-American Fusion as well as the standard food festival fare of burgers, fried chicken and pizza – all Halal of course. Surely, it should entice everyone to explore some new flavors and bridge cultural gaps to familiarize neighboring communities with Halal food from Northern California.

For the adventurous set, the multi-talented partners have signed on a live skateboarding demonstration by professional American Muslim skateboarder Jordan Richter (read his story here:, and other activities for the whole family to enjoy are in the works.

Will this be the year for Americans to really catch the wave? Don’t miss it; sign up if you are a Halal enterprise or vendor. These events are likely to be the start of something big for Americans who really love food, and who doesn’t appreciate great Halal, healthful delights that appeal?