The Bennington Public Library has a collection of eight new books about Islam thanks to Bennington teenager, Sama Shah.
Sama Afreen Shah, who loves to read, learn and spend time working with children, combined her passions into a donation to purchase books about the Islamic faith and culture for the Bennington Public Library.
Sama turned 15 this year on March 2, and chose to give a portion of her monetary birthday gift from her family to the Library.
Sama says her family’s practice of compassion and being charitable has inspired her to volunteer and set aside her personal funds for giving. She has been inspired by her older brother’s attitude of generosity and helping others, as she has of her father’s dedication to caring for cancer patients.
“In the past I have donated my hair through the Locks of Love program,” Sama noted. “This school year I’ve really enjoyed learning about Islam and other religions in world history at my school. And not many people know about what Islam really is about. They may just think about the negative stories they hear on the news about extremist.”
The Library worked with Sama to select books for the collection that are geared for both kids and adults. One of Sama’s first choices was the book Extraordinary Women from the Muslim World by Natalie Maydell.
“We so greatly appreciate our summer reading teen volunteers such as Sama,” Flaxbeard said. “Sama has been great with our summer readers. She sets an outstanding example with her passion for literature and reading in general.”
Other books now available at the library include The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust (a children’s book); The Genius of Islam: How Muslims Made the Modern World; 1001 Inventions and Awesome Facts from Muslim Civilization (National Geographic Kids); Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction; After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam; Islam: A Short History; and The Oxford History of Islam.
Sama and her older brother, Saif M. Shah, are the first generation of their family to be born in America. Their parents, Inaganti M. Shah, M.D. and Rafia Q. Shah, moved to the US from Hyderabad, India, when their father, Inaganti, was accepted into a medical residency program. Dr. Shah is a physician of hematology and oncology at Alegent Creighton Health.
Sama says she hopes that her library contributions help other kids and people to learn more about the Islamic faith. Just like teens who practice other religious faiths, Sama notes that she relies on the teachings of her faith to guide her in making choices in her life.
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