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Jame Masjid Library – A Treasure Trove of Wisdom

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Silchar (Assam): On the second floor of the Jame Masjid, the main mosque in Assam’s Cachar district, Sabir Ahmed Chaudhury pushes open a door to reveal a room with about a dozen almirahs. They are filled with more than 300 books in Bengali and English on Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. Reading rooms and libraries are rare in mosques, but Chaudhury, the mosque’s secretary, is particularly proud of this one as it’s an effort to educate people about other religions and philosophies. Alongside the Quran and books on Islam, are tomes on Christian philosophy, the Vedas and Upanishads, biographies of Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Swami Vivekananda, and novels by Rabindranath Tagore and Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. “I’ve wanted to have a library in the mosque since it was built in 1948,” said Chaudhury. Inspired by revolutionary and philosopher M N Roy, who said India is an ancient country, but its different religious groups barely know one another, Chaudhury wanted to set up the reading room to help people understand one another’s beliefs. “We will be happy if the library plays even a little role in this direction,” he said. “With contributions from locals, the library and reading room came up in 2012,” said Chaudhury, who is also head of the department of English at MCD College, Sonai.