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Muslim man passionate about using books to rebuild Stockton

Masood-CajeeBy Lori Gilbert, The Record

Mas'ood Cajee is a Muslim man in a mostly Christian city, county, state, country.

On the eve of the first program to show another side of his roots and his Islamic faith, Monday's showing of the film "Koran by Heart," Cajee didn't first consider the possibility of educating the uninformed.

Instead, as he contemplated the start of Muslim Journeys, the donation of three films and 25 book titles to the library made possible because of the proposal he'd written for a National Endowments of Humanities grant, Cajee's thoughts were on the library.

The Stockton resident, who has a dental practice in Manteca, loves the library the way some people love the 49ers or the Giants.

Its history, its current success and its potential are issues that propel Cajee to inquire about grants, serve on the Library and Literacy Foundation board and head that organization's programming committee.

While the residents of Stockton are divided over which proposal will best curb crime, Cajee is imploring City Council members to consider spending money on libraries and community centers as a weapon.

From the time he was young, the 39-year-old Cajee found comfort in the library.

As a child in Johannesburg, South Africa, he'd spend Saturday morning at the central library, dropped off by his parents to explore the children's section.

"Saturday was one of the days in which it was open to the general public," Cajee said. "Many days it was closed to nonwhites, but on Saturday you could go. Looking back, the library represented a passport out. It wasn't just a fantasy, with a book you checked out, but the education was uplifting. Nelson Mandela has a quote about education being the greatest weapon of social change." (Read the full article)

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