SACRAMENTO, California (Sept 7, 2010) – In a time where many are asking questions about Islam, Sacramento Muslims are providing the answers.
The Sacramento chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America and its 877-WhyIslam team have put American Muslims on the map with their numerous outreach campaigns. Most recently ICNA made an appearance at the California State Fair, boasting the “longest Dawah booth” in the United States—19 straight days of education and outreach.
The booth hosted almost 1,000 visitors during its 19-day stint, distributing 500 Qurans and over 2,000 brochures to the public.
The state fair, which has been held annually for over 150 years, ran this year from July 14th to August 1st, hosting nearly a million attendees, numerous outdoor and indoor exhibits and hundreds of vendors. ICNA Sacramento’s 877-WhyIslam was among the booths set up at the fair this year; volunteers answered questions about their faith and handed out free Islamic literature and English translations of the Quran. Spanish translations of the Quran & brochures were also available.
Ishfaq Qurashi, secretary of the chapter, said they hoped to “encourage people to search for unbiased information on Islam.” Numerous visitors returned to the booth after reading their copies of the Quran, interested in visiting a mosque to learn more about the faith. The one-on-one interaction helped dispel fears harbored by those who haven’t interacted with Muslims and served to “humanize Islam.”
A first time exhibit on Islam at the Cental Library Exhibit is a few blocks from the State Capitol.
The chapter also hosted an Islamic themed cultural exhibit at the Sacramento Central Public Library from August 9th to September 4th. Arshad Khan, President of ICNA Sacramento, said the exhibit aimed to “introduce visitors to our beliefs, Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr,” along with “[Islam’s] perspective on human and women’s rights, social justice, [and its contributions] to art and inventions.”
The exhibit introduces visitors to Islamic beliefs, Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr, art and inventions by Muslims, and the faith's perspective on human and women's rights and social justice.
From July to August 26th the Sacramento chapter launched a billboard ad campaign, part of ICNA’s nationwide “You Deserve to Know” project. Eight billboard ads graced high traffic locations and reached an estimated 25% of the Greater Sacramento commuter population during their month-long run. The billboards have the words “Islam” and “You deserve to know” written across the top, with names of respected prophets of the faith across the bottom. 877-WhyIslam’s hotline number and website are also listed.
Shane Yoder, Outreach Coordinator of ICNA Sacramento said the ads have garnered an incredible response from the public. “There’s been an increase in calls to the hotline, email correspondence and requests for mosque visits,” he said. “Many people don’t know about Islam and Muslims, and this gives us an opportunity to tell them.”
ICNA Sacramento’s work is mirrored by similar campaigns across the nation, effectively countering what many see as a new wave of Islamophobia. By engaging in open dialogue, correcting misconceptions about Islam and showing that Muslims are “neighbors, co-workers and community members,” Qurashi believes these campaigns will promote respect and open-mindedness. We are “building bridges of mutual understanding and tolerance,” he says, “making [America] a better place for all.”