Friday, 21 August 2009

An Islamic Library

I attended a sisters' fundraiser at the weekend in Bolton (have to stop visiting that place but it seems to pull me again and again) and I was not expecting any of the young girls to know me so was very pleasantly surprised when many asked me why I hadn't brought along my third book in the Zahra series, 'Zahra's Trip to Misr.'

I explained that it is due for release later this year and asked why it was that so many of them knew about 'Zahra's First Term at the Khadija Academy' and 'Zahra's Great Debate.'
Well, it turns out that my first two books feature in the top three most borrowed books at the central mosque library, that being Zakariya Mosque. Alhumdullilah.

I must say I was very impressed to learn about this - not about my books being borrowed (actually won't lie, was delighted) but about the fact that kids were using the mosque as a community space. In my part of London there is no space for women in the mosques, let alone a learning centre for kids and young adults. Intrigued I asked some questions and this is what I found out:

The Islamic Library was set up by a Bolton Librarian, Subnum Harif, to achieve the following aims:

- Better understanding of the religion of Islam leading to enhanced social cohesion through the provision of specialised Islamic collections which will be available to all the communities in Bolton.

- Provide an informal environment to encourage learning for children and young people and adults.

- Provide materials to meet the communities' personal, educational, spiritual and professional needs.

The library has now been open for 10 months and has 374 members with over 1,500 book issues and is run by a dedicated team of volunteers.

Subnum Harif:
" I believe reading is vital for young people's development not only in terms of improving literacy skills and assisting in educational attainment but for developing a wider world viewpoint, encouraging creativity and imagination and raising aspirations."

I think I have said before on this blog and I will say it again, Bolton mosques seem to be miles ahead of the game in community support, progress and a commitment to community cohesion and I think a real role model for many other organisations to follow.

The event raised just under £5000 in one afternoon.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Islamic Relief for Swat Valley

It seems I am doing a post a month on Islamic Relief fundraisers this summer. Attended the Islamic Relief Shahid Afridi and Younus Khan fundraiser for the people of Swat Valley in London. An amazing evening where £130,000 was raised. Both cricketers were very impressive in their commitment to the charitable cause, highlighting their own witness accounts of the devastation.

The next day attended the Islamic Relief Photography Exhibition at London City Hall where the work of Stefano Massimo and Shaista Chishty was on display to highlight some of the issues and challenges that people in the developing world are facing today. Both are amazing photographers. Stephano's images from Palestine have been used in a number of British television documentaries and Shaista is an incredible young Muslim woman using her camera for the promotion of awareness, justice and social change.