Islamiya Library encourages discussions on life and is open to anyone who wants to learn more about Islam

What does the Quran say about science? Is drinking prohibited? What does the Sharia say about punishment for theft? Is there life after death? What about women’s rights? Those looking for answers to these questions may find them at the Islamiya Library in Karumbukadai. Thirty-five-year-old J. Abdul Hameed’s search for the answers led him to set up the library, he says. He calls it an Islamiya Azhaippu Maiyyam, a meeting place for free discussions and debates. “Over the last decade, even as I was doing my readymade garment business, I was interested in spreading awareness on such issues. I regularly attended public meetings. I set up the free library four years ago as a social service initiative, and then added the sales wing to sustain it,” he says.

Scholars on Islam

Tucked into a small space on the first floor, at the end of the corridor overlooking the busy Aathupalam Road, is the single-room library. Abdul refers to one of Gandhi’s less known quotes about Hazrat Umar. Gandhi said, “…The best thing to happen to India would be to be reigned by a dictator as just and upright as Umar.” Abdul speaks of how Gandhi drew inspirations from the Quran, the life of Prophet Muhammad and that of his companions. Thoughts on Islam by Mahatma Gandhi is one of the many books of the formidable collection at the Islamiya Library. There are books by other greats such as E.V. R. Periyar and M. Krishnamurthy too. Besides the Quran, and its translations in more than five languages, there’s a wealth of books by scholars on Islam.

Anyone is welcome to walk in and use the books in this library, which is not just for Muslims, says Abdul.

In the last four years, more than 1,500 non-Muslim readers have visited the library. “Those who have a quest in life come here to immerse themselves in the books. We have over 500 titles in English and Tamil that cover every aspect of life, and helps one understand the true meaning of Islam. For non-Muslims, we give them a free copy of the Quran in Tamil. We source these Tamil translations from the ThiruKuran Trust in Coimbatore. The English translation of the Quran by Maulana Wahiuddin Khan is also distributed. Abridged versions for quicker references are also available,” says Abdul.

Publishing houses such as the John Trust, Indian Islamic Mission Trust, Rahmat Publications, Salaam Centre Foundation and Darul Huda Islamic Books Trust supply the books to Islamiya.

Some of the popular books in the collection include ‘Mohammed Life’ by Martin Lings (Tamil translation), ‘Muhammad – the muse of Allah’, books of Michael Hart on Islam, and works of Dr. Zakir Nayak. There are seven volumes of Buhari (the Hadees collection on the sayings and deeds of the Prophet) and the Thafseer collection (the meaning of Quran).

A Tamil translation of Safiyur Rahman Mubarak Puri’s award-winning book on the life history of Mohammed Nabi is also available. You also find books by Ramakrishna Rao, Erode Anbazhagan, P. Gopalakrishnan (a retired judge who converted to Islam), K.S. Ramakrishna Rao, and Kavignar M. Shanmugham at the library. “Tamilanban’s Ennai Kavarntha Peruman talks about the connecting thread between the Bible, the Quran and the Vedas. T.M. Mani’s books on Theendaamai Karpippu and Kaduvalai Maatruvom, promote secular living and harmony,” explains Abdul.

The library has a children’s corner where there are graphic books on Hadees with modern day examples. There are books with the stories of Hassan and Hussain, grandchildren of Mohammed Nabi, a Q&A on the Quran, and guidelines on learning basic Arabic. There is a light hearted book on a day in the life of the Prophet by S.S. Moulana.

Rare copies

There are very old and valuable copies of the Quran in Arabic and Urdu, some of them go back to the Tipu Sultan period. When Abdul started the library, his neighbours contributed some rare books that had been in their Tharavad for many generations.

Islamiya Library takes pride in the fact that it has so far distributed thousands of books on Islam across Tamil Nadu. “We also take up stalls at exhibitions, public meetings, and book fairs and big events like Sentamizh Maanadu.”

Ahmed says many professionals frequent the library. A lot of them from the medical fraternity are keen to learn about references to medicines in the ancient texts. “For example, honey, dates, and black jeera are considered sifa (healthy). Then there are others who seek information about dowry or on tackling difficult financial situations, etc,” he says. Speaking about the regular discussions that Islamiya holds, Abdul says, “Our focus is to create social awareness and reiterate that the creator or the paramatma is the same for everyone.”

The library is open on all days from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. To know more, call: 93611- 40616.