The 2014 Islamic Circle of North America Midwest Convention welcomes all who have interest in Islam
By Zach Berg
August 17. 2014, PEORIA — The 2014 Islamic Circle of North America Midwest Convention welcomed visitors Sunday with a cordial “as-salamu alaykum” as they walked into the Peoria Civic Center. Roughly translated as “Peace of God be upon you,” the greeting was not reserved to Muslims, but was for everyone who came to learn more about tenets of Islam.
The convention hosted a “Window of Peace” open house Sunday morning. The event was held late enough in the morning so that members of the Christian faith could come after church and ask questions about the Muslim faith.
“We want to give an opportunity to give a lesson of Islam from the scholars. If people have any questions, difficult questions, they can ask them,” said Dr. Sabeel Ahmed of the Islamic Circle of North America. “We are here to erase some misconceptions.”
Roughly 2,000 Muslims from all over the Midwest attended the convention.
The open house featured Ahmed and Dr. Mohammed Yunus of the Islamic Circle standing in front of roughly 50 people. A mixture of Christians, agnostics and Muslims, the crowd was welcomed with an “as-salamu alaykum,” followed by Yunus giving a brief summary of the Muslim faith.
Yunus outlined many tenets of Islam that were in step with Christianity: the belief in heaven and hell, the belief in a merciful God, a love for peace and a need to do good in the world. “We are all children of Adam and Eve,” Imam Musa Azam, a speaker at the convention, said just outside of the open house. Azam was there as an audience member, interested to see what bridges there were between different faiths.
“The similarities outweigh the differences between our faiths,” he said.
Yunus then invited questions from the audience, bringing Muslims’ relationship to Jesus to the forefront of the open house quickly. “Jesus is a prophet of God, just like Noah, Abraham, Moses and Muhammad, peace be upon him,” Ahmed said. “In our faith, Jesus is not the destination; no one else is the destination. God is the destination.”
The next subject brought up was Islam’s relationship with women and what Yunus said was “a major misconception of Islam: that we allow the beating of women.”
“The Quran says ‘paradise is under the feet of your mother.’ Those that beat women in the name of Islam, they are nothing but ignorant,” Yunus said.
Ahmed brought up the Gainesville, Fla., minister who promised to burn Qurans in 2010. “Just like the fact that Terry Jones doesn’t reflect Christianity, that the Crusades don’t reflect Catholics, that kind of violence doesn’t reflect Islam.”
Azam, who had come from Highland, Ind., saw a shared humanity in the convention’s host city.
“That’s what we’ve discovered with our time here: Peoria has very open arms and welcomes all of us with big smiles,” Azam said. “There’s a genuine curiosity here, and it’s our job to approach our neighbor and let them know that we have the same principles of love and respect.”
Zach Berg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 686-3257. Follow him on Twitter @ZacharyBerg.
Article Courtesy: PJ Star