By Heraa Hashmi
The newly established ICNA chapters in Boulder and Denver, Colorado have been busy establishing themselves the past year and recently held a series of events to serve their community and increase outreach.
After nearly a month of preparation, the Islamic Center of Boulder, in partnership with ICNA Relief, held its second annual Back-2-School Giveaway on August 16th. After a successful project in 2013, many brothers and sisters volunteered their time to serve their community again.
Prior to the start of the distribution, volunteers set up items and refreshments outside the Islamic center. By 11:00 a.m. parents had started to make their way to the tables. They left with smiling children, jubilant about their new backpacks and supplies.
A week later, on August 24th, the Denver chapter of ICNA Relief held its first ever Back-2-School Giveaway at Masjid Ash Shuhada, in downtown Denver.
People were curious as to why the booth was handing out free supplies. This gave the volunteers the opportunity to explain the charitable aspect of Islam and the importance of service to others. Children left excited about their new notebooks, pens and other essential school items.
Both Back-2-School events were quite successful. The national ICNA project was created to meet the needs of disadvantaged families in various cities across the U.S. Families in financial distress often cannot afford basic supplies for their children. As a community, the least that should be done is to provide for those in need. The organizers hope to assist struggling families with this timely assistance and inspire the Muslim community to participate in one of the fundamental teachings of Islam.
In the past few months the ICNA Dawah team in Colorado partook in two main events to spread awareness and knowledge of Islam to the public.
The first was “Global Fest”, held annually by the city of Aurora, in which international communities are invited to showcase their work and culture. The team availed the opportunity and on the morning of August 23, about a dozen volunteers arrived to set up the booth and hang banners. They arranged tables with Qurans and brochures and books explaining the message of Islam.
A diverse crowd dropped by at the booth, fueled by their questions and curiosity. Approximately several hundred people visited during the day, and picked up the material on display. The team hopes that this effort helped in the larger cause of dispelling misconceptions about Islam and opening people’s hearts and minds to its message.
A state representative also came by and offered support for ICNA’s work. In his additional capacity as a teacher and librarian at a youth correctional institution, he asked them to deliver Qurans to the institution which the team gladly did afterwards.
The second event in which the ICNA Dawah participated was a meeting on religion and faith hosted by the Mountainview Community Christian Church on September 6. The leadership of the church invited ICNA to the event in the spirit of getting to know one another as common communities of faith.
The discussion focused on the different aspects of Islamic belief about Jesus and his religion. A church leader Mr. Carl Medearis stated that most Muslims know more about Christianity than Christians know about Islam, so it is the Christians who need to be more aware. The church’s leadership expressed their interest in ICNA addressing their congregation sometime in the near future.