For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development

The Free Library's 'In the Path of Islam' Project Showcases Philadelphia's Muslim Culture

PHILADELPHIA, March 21, 2022— The Free Library of Philadelphia is excited to announce In the Path of Islam, a community-driven project amplifying the diverse voices of Philadelphia’s indigenous Muslim community, born and raised in the city, while engaging all Philadelphians who feel a connection with Islam and those who would like to learn more. The experiences and exhibition are inspired by the books and paintings made in Muslim lands that are housed at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

This is a unique project, led not by the Free Library of Philadelphia but the indigenous Muslim community, whose vital history in the city has often been ignored. The project has been developed by community members at every stage: from the earliest informational sessions in local masajid to the lecture series designed and presented by Philadelphia Muslims. Instead of the Free Library of Philadelphia presenting a history of Islam in Philadelphia, the Library has lent its civic visibility to center the expertise and experiences of Philadelphians around the city with a connection to Islam. It is a personal project for many of the people involved, and it is an overdue recognition of how central Black American Muslim history is to Philadelphia’s history.

This wide-ranging project also includes “The Philadelphia Muslim Oral History Project,” which will be recording and preserving the experiences of Philadelphia Muslim community members, as they share stories that bring to light marginalized perspectives that have been kept out of history books. In the Path of Islam also includes an ongoing series of programming and events. Free monthly lectures include topics such as Islam and Africa, Empowering the Muslim Youth, and Virtues of Ramadan that can be viewed via YouTube.

In the Path of Islam also offers glimpses into the history and culture of Philadelphia’s Muslim community through cooking, with events through the Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Center, and children’s programming at participating libraries, schools, and masajid, guiding participants to contribute to a shared work of art through decoration, painting, and calligraphy. Lessons in Arabic language and culture have been offered in collaboration with Al-Bustan Seed of Culture. The project also includes items to check out from the library, through circulating trunks of objects from the homes of Philadelphia Muslims available to groups, school classes, and libraries, which come with a companion guide to help educators talk about the objects with children.

The exhibition for In the Path of Islam opens March 21 in the William B. Dietrich Gallery on the third floor of the Parkway Central Library. Curated by Philadelphians from throughout the city, it features more than fifty one-of-a-kind art and artifacts from one thousand years of Muslim culture from the Free Library’s collections alongside treasures and ephemera from the homes of Philadelphia Muslims.  The exhibition will be complemented with  traveling exhibits showing off the Free Library’s largest Qur’an, a collection of indigenous Muslim dolls designed in Philadelphia, and ancient and modern Arabic calligraphy. The exhibits will be on view at neighborhood libraries and masajid during the project period.

"The In the Path of Islam project allows me an opportunity to embrace the stories of my community members, to educate and to share my story through my ethnic Islamic doll art and my narrative writings,” said Sistah Aisamah Muhammad-Muneer, a Community Curator and tour guide for the exhibition.

The central exhibition will be available to visit in person through July 30, 2022 on the Third Floor of the Parkway Central Library, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Tours will be available every other week, guided by community curators. For more information on the exhibition and the In the Patch of Islam project, visit

In the Path of Islam runs through July. The project team is Shahadah Abdul-Rashid, Hudhaifah Abdulhayy, Yaroub Al Obaidi, Caitlin Goodman, and Joseph Shemtov. In the Path of Islam is made possible in part by the Council on Libraries and Information Resources, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and the Independence Foundation through support to the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850