Somerville public library announces latest book discussion in ‘muslim journeys’ series

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Discussion of Leila Ahmed’s A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from The Middle East to America on November 14th is part of a year– long series at SPL

SOMERVILLE - The Somerville Public Library is pleased to announce that the latest book discussion in its “Muslim Journeys” series will take place on Thursday, November 14th at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library (79 Highland Avenue.) The book to be discussed is A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from The Middle East to America by Harvard Divinity School Professor Leila Ahmed. Professor Ahmed will be present to lead the discussion and answer questions. “Muslim Journeys” is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association, and aims to familiarize the American public with Islam and the cultural heritage of Islamic civilizations around the world. This program is free and open to the public.

"The Somerville Public Library brings people together to learn about ideas, each other, and our greater humanity," said Maria Carpenter, Director of the Somerville Public Library. "We think the Muslim Journeys project is particularly important as it is intended to promote tolerance and understanding and for community members to learn more about and celebrate the many contributions of Muslim Americans."

About A Quiet Revolution:

In Cairo in the 1940s, Leila Ahmed was raised by a generation of women who never dressed in the veils and headscarves their mothers and grandmothers had worn. To them, these coverings seemed irrelevant to both modern life and Islamic piety. Today, however, the majority of Muslim women throughout the Islamic world again wear the veil. Why, Ahmed asks, did this change take root so swiftly, and what does this shift mean for women, Islam, and the West?

When she began her study, Ahmed assumed that the veil's return indicated a backward step for Muslim women worldwide. What she discovered, however, in the stories of British colonial officials, young Muslim feminists, Arab nationalists, pious Islamic daughters, American Muslim immigrants, violent jihadists, and peaceful Islamic activists, confounded her expectations. Ahmed observed that Islamism, with its commitments to activism in the service of the poor and in pursuit of social justice, is the strain of Islam most easily and naturally merging with western democracies' own tradition of activism in the cause of justice and social change. It is often Islamists, even more than secular Muslims, who are at the forefront of such contemporary activist struggles as civil rights and women's rights. Ahmed's surprising conclusions represent a near reversal of her thinking on this topic.

Richly insightful, intricately drawn, and passionately argued, this absorbing story of the veil's resurgence, from Egypt through Saudi Arabia and into the West, suggests a dramatically new portrait of contemporary Islam.

For more information about this event or the Muslim Journeys series, please go to

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