Chicago IL: Islamic Center of Naperville (ICN) held an “Open Mosque Day” on Sunday October 4th, 2015, opened its doors to people of all faiths, and provided a rich opportunity for two-way communication aimed at dispelling negative notions prevalent about Islam and spreading its real message of love, peace, and tolerance.
The event, in which a large number of mosques from across Chicago took part, was sponsored by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and co-sponsored by Al-Furqan and Gain Peace. “Even though Muslims in the US, a staggering three million, who are adequately educated and hold decent positions in different walks of life, are largely misunderstood by Americans. According to the recent Gallup Poll, nearly a third of Americans do not have a favorable opinion of Islam”, said Adil Fareed, President, ICN.
Fareed opined that a multi-million dollar Islamophobia network in the backdrop of brutality committed by extremist groups like ISIS combined with lack of engagements of Muslims in their local communities is responsible for this gross misunderstanding and negative image of Islam and Muslims.
“The more interactions between the communities, the more harmony it promotes. Islamophobia tears apart the communities while dialogues and interaction dispel prejudice and misconceptions and strengthen our societies, Fareed added.
Mir Rizwan Ali, Imam of ICN said that the event provided for meetings with the local imams and community members, participation in the Q and A sessions, high-quality presentations at different booths, and free distribution of Islamic literature in order to foster communication and open opportunities for dialogue. “I believe that many of the conflicts in the contemporary society can be minimized by putting in place a mechanism for continuous discussions”, he added.
Shoaib Khadri, Secretary, ICN said that the event proactively attempted to project the true teachings of Islam and to clear misconceptions that people may have of Islam through other sources. “We identified the most common topics that people have questions on Islam like Women’s Rights, Extremism, Quran, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and set up booths to address questions related to these topics with knowledgeable volunteers who were able to explain in detail and answer questions.”
“I was all along under the spell of wrong propaganda about Islam and its followers. It was a pleasant surprise knowing that Islam is based on the egalitarian principles of Justice, Equality, Tolerance, Peace, and Progress. It was as if coming out of darkness into light”, opined many a guest belonging to different religions.
Rebecca Obarski, City Council, Naperville felt that the Open Mosque Day should not be a one-shot affair. She underlined the need for many such initiatives as one can find true picture of Islam directly from Muslims themselves rather than getting its distorted version from others. “Our society needs to internalize the reality that Muslims are also Americans and they are working hard for a better and more progressive America. Today’s event further consolidates this sentiment”, she added.
Roberto Ramirez, Founder/ CEO, Spanish Public Radio and a Mexico Community leader said that the event was an eye opener for him as he was not fully aware of teachings of Islam. “We may follow different faiths but, we should strive to find the commonalities among them, and ultimately follow one religion, that is, humanity”, added Ramirez.
Shree Gurusamy, Executive Committee Member, Sri Balaji Temple, applauded the efforts of the ICN and called upon other faith-based organization to undertake similar outreach efforts in order to create a society which is well-informed and free from racial biases, prejudices, and stereotypes.
Purnima Nath, Founder and President, Spindle India, said that Islam’s main focus on the behavior of people, in terms of their good deeds, rather than on mere religious rituals, is one its worth-emulating hallmarks. Refreshments and samples of Muslim cultural cuisine were served to the participants.
ICN community, which comprises over 3500 families, representing India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Jordan, Somalia, Iraq, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, etc., addresses the needs of Muslims as well as those who belong to other religions. It is a member of Naperville Interfaith Leaders Association. It also takes part in the activities of DuPage County.