Authors Sabeeha Rehman and Janay Cosner will share two very different journeys with Chautauquans at 5:30 p.m. Monday in Hultquist Center 101.
They’ll read from their work as part of the Authors’ Hour program, a weekly event sponsored by the Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends that’s held from Weeks One through Seven.
Rehman will share her book Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim. Excerpts from the book have previously appeared in The Wall Street Journal.
Rehman said she wrote the book to help raise awareness about Islam and Muslims in America, and Chautauqua Institution is a “place of hope” where she can share its message. She said past readings have led to opportunities for her to foster interfaith dialogue with others, and she and her husband, Khalid, conduct seminars on Islam at 3:30 p.m. daily at Hurlbut Church.
The Authors’ Hour provides a different kind of setting for Rehman to share her book with others.
“In this setting, I have the opportunity to share my experience with an audience, which has a thirst for learning, is open-minded, embracing of diversity and welcoming,” Rehman said.
Rehman also enjoys the Q-and-A portion of Authors’ Hour, which she said is “the best part.”
“I get questions that get me going, and I get questions that render me speechless,” Rehman said. “I always try to devote half the time for Q-and-A because I know that the audience has burning questions, and I want to hear from them and I want them to hear me out. It gets even better when we part — exchanging contact information, meeting over coffee and becoming friends.”
Rehman said she hopes the people who attend the event and hear her speak will come away with a simple idea: “That the heart and soul of a Muslim mother is like that of any other; that Islam does not advocate violence, misguided people do; that Islam does not oppress women, misguided people do; and that ‘Muslims are people just like us.’ ”
“I want them to say, ‘I want to know more,’ ” Rehman said.
Cosner will share her “memoir in poems,” Dancing with Breast Cancer. The book follows Cosner’s journey from her initial diagnosis to her finding her “new normal.”
“I will share snapshots of my journey,” Cosner said. “Some are pretty, some ugly, some humorous, but all are sprinkled with attitude.”
One of Cosner’s favorite parts of sharing her work with an audience is showing them that she’s “no sit-back survivor.”
“I am a savvy lady doing a defiant dance — a dance many women will recognize — a dance that will be eye-opening for everyone else,” she said.
Cosner said that her book is for every woman she’s never met who has or had breast cancer. It’s a book that required her to cry, scream and spill her guts to write, she said.
“I hope my observations will help people not only to understand that breast cancer changes lives forever, but also to recognize that powerful lessons can be learned,” Cosner said. “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Live each day fully. You are stronger than you think. Dance fast and furious.”