On Sunday, October 20, at 7:00 PM the Union College Library will be once again be turned into a site for interfaith dialogue with the viewing and discussion of the HBO documentary Koran by Heart. This dynamic film follows the journey of three ten-year-olds from different countries to Cairo, Egypt for the the Egypt International Holy Koran Competition where they must each recite the entire Qur’an from memory to a panel of judges on live television and radio. Held on the holiest day of Ramadan, this is the oldest and most prestigious Qur’an competition. In an interview with HBO Greg Baker, the documentary’s director, called it the “Olympics of Qur’an reciting”.
The children in this competition represent the best and the brightest of the next generation of Muslim scholars, and the film provides insight into some of the modern debates within Islam, including how Muslim children should be raised in this increasingly secular society. It also shows how the children balance their faith, and the demands of Qur’an memorization with the rest of their busy lives. Issues that people of any faith must work through at some point. Chris Blake, Union College associate professor of English and communication who will be leading the discussion says, “Learning about devoted believers in other cultures can help us to increase our own devotion to God.”
In January 2013 Union College was awarded the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Muslim Journeys Bookshelf. The Bookshelf is a collection of scholarly and literary books, films, and online resources designed to generate community discussion and understanding of Islamic history, art, literature, religion, contemporary points of view, and the immigrant experience in America.
The film Koran by Heart is part of the Muslim Journeys bookshelf. Co-sponsored by the Good Neighbor Community Center and the Union College Center for Interfaith Studies and Culture, this is the fourth event the library will host featuring the bookshelf. Students, faculty and community members alike are invited to come and take part in this event.
Visit the library's Muslim Journey’s Bookshelf to learn more about this and other upcoming programs.