Quran showcased at the MSU library in new exhibit
An exhibit showcasing a leaf from a Quran and related literature opened Friday on the first floor of the Main Library.
The exhibit was created in response to the desecration and burning of a Quran on Sept. 11 that was left on the steps of the Islamic Center of Greater Lansing, 920 S. Harrison Road.
It features a page from the Muslim holy book, possibly dating from the ninth century, on loan from the Kresge Art Museum. Books covering various topics, including Islamic calligraphy, Muslims in the U.S., religious tolerance, hate crimes and book burning, also will be included in the exhibit.
“I think people need to know more about different cultures and religions,” prenursing sophomore Amelia Carter said. “People are afraid and it’s because they don’t understand it.”
Carter said she is interested in the exhibit because of the issues prevalence in the U.S. and she wants “to be more aware of Muslim culture.”
On Friday, the Islamic Center of Greater Lansing donated seven Qurans to the library in response to the exhibit.
Thasin Sardar, a volunteer with the Islamic Center of Greater Lansing, said the donation is part of a campaign called “Learn, Don’t Burn.” The new campaign focuses on educating the community about Islam in order to prevent incidents such as the recent Quran desecration.
As part of the campaign, the Islamic Center of Greater Lansing will give away free Qurans to the community in addition to the ones available at the library.
“For the most part, misunderstandings lead to ignorance and ignorance leads to incomprehensible acts,” Sardar said. “We hope to educate people by giving them copies of the Quran. There’s nothing like getting information first hand.”
When Reference and Instruction Librarian Deborah Margolis, one of the main contributors to the exhibit, found out about the Quran burning, it struck a personal chord. She said after the desecration of the Quran, she brought the idea for the exhibit to the MSU Libraries’ Diversity Committee.
“I guess I was really upset,” Margolis said. “Personally, I’m from a religious minority. I grew up in a university town like this — things happened to our place of worship and our family. I know what that felt like and I was upset that another community would have to go through something similar.”
The library has a special showcase dedicated to diversity-related topics where exhibits are displayed for at least a month at a time, Margolis said.
Special Collections Cataloguer and Public Relations Coordinator Ruth Ann Jones, who also contributed to the exhibit, said the library chooses exhibits that might be of interest to the community; in this case relating to a recent news event.
The exhibit also focuses on the issue of book burning throughout history. A poster of book burning in Nazi Germany also is featured in the exhibit, Margolis said.
“As a library, we don’t support destroying any books,” Jones said. “The whole point of a library is for people to be able to study things in a free, open atmosphere.”
Margolis said the library also was concerned about the people affected by the Quran burning, especially because of the Muslim student population at MSU.
“We all need to learn to work together as a community in harmony,” Sardar said. “We may have different beliefs but at (the) end of the day we are all human beings and we all share the same common goal of wanting to live peacefully and coexist.”