ILIA Rekindles Love of Learning with Book Fair

Community News

Abdel Qadir Sennaar, ILIA’s Director of Development, came up with the idea for the book fair and selected the titles to showcase. About 200 on-site book titles and 500 titles online were presented at the book fair. Photo by Muslim Link.


It is easy to see the difference between someone who reads and someone who does not read. The word choices, ideas and creative thinking book lovers tend to have gives them away.

However, for the first time in history more people are reading more words, but our attention spans are decreasing.

An article in Scientific American by Coco Ballantyne -- written before the widespread adoption of e-readers and tablets – attempted to describe the differences in reading online from reading books.

Citing a study from the Journal of Research in Reading, she states that the simple acts like scrolling and changeable dimensions of text are affecting our neural reasoning. It  is warping our attention spans and decreasing our tolerance for longer works.

To encourage Muslim youth to read demanding books, the Islamic Leadership Institute of America (ILIA) based in Ellicott City, Maryland hosted a book fair on April 27, 2013.

The event was organized to celebrate the contributions of Muslims to the body of knowledge and showcased 200 titles including works of Al-Ghazali, Ibn Araby and Ibn Sina’s medical cannon.

Abdel Qadir Sennaar, ILIA’s Director of Development, father of eight and grandfather of seven, was the curator of the book showcase. The book fair was his idea, and he chose the titles. Five hundred are online, and 200 titles were presented at the book fair.

“We come from a well read Ummah,” says Sennaar, ”Even before Allah said His name in the Quran, He said Iqra. The first word is read, and the last word is mankind, so Allah is telling human beings to study. This is what brought our deen to the forefront of humanity, the zenith of Islamic scholarship through discovery.”

He brought many worn-with-love books from his personal collection.

Some titles included: One Woman’s Jihad, the life of Nana Asma’u the daughter of the most prestigious Muslim figure in the history of the Western Sahara Usman Dan Fodio; locally authored Young Muslim Voices; and titles from publishers such as Kazi Publications, World Wisdom, and two dozen additional publishers. ILIA hopes to become a distributor for these publishers.

How to read a book by Mortimer Adler is a classic that Muslims need to read and teach their youth. Adler sums up why reading demanding books is essential:

"A good book can teach you about the world and about yourself. You learn more than how to read better; you also learn more about life. You become wiser. Not just more knowledgeable—books that provide nothing but information can produce that result. But wiser, in the sense that you are more deeply aware of the great and enduring truths of human life" (pp. 340-341).

The book fair was also held to create a planned giving scenario, so visitors could learn about ILIA and join the organization.

The list of the book selection will be available on the ILIA website in the near future. Visit to become a member for 27 cents a day.