By Gary Gibula, Naperville Sun
April 30, 2016 – In an effort to dispel preconceptions about the Muslim faith, several local mosques have been conducting open houses in recent weeks and inviting the public to find out more about their religion and culture.
“We’re really no different from everyone else,” said Aamer Abduljaleel, of the Muslim Association of Bolingbrook, which held an open house Saturday afternoon. “We’re all families, our kids all attend the same schools and we go to the same doctors. We believe in faith, freedom, respect, and we’re peaceful people.”
With 1.7 billion followers worldwide, the Muslim faith has grown from the 50 families at the Bolingbrook mosque in 1991 to more than 1,000 today.
Similar to Christian churches, Jewish temples and other places of religious worship, the Masjid Al-Jumu’ah mosque in Bolingbrook has educational programs for children, outreach to the needy and recreational activities for youth.
“We’re very family-centric,” said Aadil Fareed, a board member with the Islamic Center of Naperville, who was on hand to speak with guests. “We’re people who want to bring the community together. We strive to serve.”
Visitors to the open house on Saturday were given a condensed education on Muslim principles and teachings. Guests were invited to remove their shoes and enter the worship area to observe a 10-minute prayer service, after which questions were answered.
Why are the men in front and the women at the rear of the room, one visitor asked.
“Islam is a universal faith,” Islamic scholar Sabeel Ahmed told 200 guests at an open house Saturday at the Masjid Al-Jumu’ah mosque in Bolingbrook. (Gary Gibula, Naperville Sun)
It’s done out of respect to female mosque members, who might feel uncomfortable rubbing elbows with strangers of the opposite sex during the prayers.
The afternoon included a lunch buffet and free temporary henna tattoos prior to a presentation by an Islamic scholar.
“There are some in the political arena who don’t realize that Muslims have been here since before the United States became a country, and that we fought alongside George Washington in the Revolutionary War and also in the American Civil War,” said Sabeel Ahmed, director of the GainPeace outreach program for the Islamic Circle of North America. “I wish Mr. Trump was here to realize it is written in the Quran that it is our job to make society better.”
Ahmed said Muslims believe that men and women are born with original goodness, not original sin. The Muslim faithful “worship the creator, not the creation,” he said.
Whereas women did not have the right to vote in the United States until the 20th Century, Muslim women were part of the political process in the 7th Century.
“I’d never been to a mosque before, and this has been a good opportunity to learn more about what goes on here,” said Greg Krabbenhoft, of Bolingbrook. “They really want us to understand more about their religion and their culture. It’s been eye-opening to learn things you just don’t see about how Muslims are portrayed in the media.”
Krabbenhoft and his daughter attended the open house because he is studying different religions in an adult education class at his Lutheran church.
“I have friends who are Muslim and it’s cool to see what they’re so passionate about,” said Krissy Krabenhoft, 15. “Everybody’s so nice. They’re so welcoming.”
For more information, go to bolingbrookmasjid.com.
Gary Gibula is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.
Copyright © 2016, Naperville Sun
Article Courtesy: Chicago Tribune