Open Mosque Day Brings Faith Groups Together
By Shakeel Syed


Glimpses of the get-together of interfaith groups at various mosques

The Islamic Shura Council of Southern California organized an Open Mosque Day on Sunday, August 21. Over twenty-five mosques of greater Southern California, including some mosques in San Diego, opened their doors to people of all faith groups. The visitors were given introductory presentation on Islam followed by mosque tours, viewing of cultural artifacts, a sumptuous meal and a vibrant Q&A session.
The Open Mosque Day event was warmly received by hundreds of visitors at each mosque. The purpose of this event was to promote “better understanding” between people of all faiths and to “foster positive relationships and mutual respect” toward each other.


Latino Muslims on the Open Mosque Day

The Chairman of the Islamic Shura Council, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, underscored the importance of such an event in today’s charged political climate. Hosting hundreds of neighbors at the Islamic Society of Orange County where he also serves as its Director, he said, “Muslims are obliged to share their faith of peace with everyone”.
While most mosques received neighbors, some mosques were overwhelmed with large groups of students from college campuses and universities. One such student, Ms. Donna Hicks of USC visiting Masjid Omar Ibn Khattab, joyfully confessed after trying a veil on her, that she respects Muslim women for their ‘statement of pride.’
Many visitors of Christian faith were fascinated in their discovery of Islam and its intimate relationship with their faith. Henry Gibbens, a devout follower of Jesus, was fascinated on knowing the similarities between his faith and the faith of the Executive Director of Shura Council, Shakeel Syed. They spent over one hour scribbling notes back and forth because Mr. Gibbens is impaired of hearing and speech abilities!
Leslie Robison of Thousand Oaks came on behalf of her church, Holy Trinity Lutheran in Thousand Oaks. “I think peace is important, and working with other cultures and learning,” she said during the reception after the Imam’s talk. “We’re all one people.”


Idrees Triana, President, Masjid Hawthorne with Henry Gibbons

Ammar Kahf of the Islamic Center of Hawthorne said that the Open Mosque Day is “more about awareness and education and not about propagation or preaching. Our main objective is to bring awareness to the religion of Islam and the practices of American Muslims, and to get to know each other on a personal level.”

The Rev. Ginny Wagener, executive director of the South Coast Interfaith Council and an ordained evangelical minister spoke at the Islamic Center of South Bay and said this is “to show our basic religious values are the same, even if our beliefs and worship styles are different.”

Recognizing the overwhelming success of the Open Mosque Day, the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California has been requested by many interfaith community members to increase the frequency of such good endeavors. Together, they say, we can make a difference.
*Executive Director, Islamic Shura Council of Southern California

 

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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