BLOOMINGTON — Twin City Muslims are opening the doors of a Bloomington mosque to the public to provide a better understanding of their Islamic faith and how they pray.
“With the recent situations happening all over the nation and all around the world, we just wanted to have a public event about the Muslim community, the mosque itself, what we do there, and how we pray,” said Mohammed Zaman, president of the mosque that has served local Muslims since 2007.
“Open Day at the Mosque” will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Masjid Ibrahim, 2407 E. Washington St., Bloomington. The Bloomington-Normal Muslim Community in association with Gain Peace Foundation are sponsoring the event.
Members of Masjid Ibrahim mosque in Bloomington pray toward Mecca during afternoon prayers.
“At Masjid Ibrahim, this is the first time that we are doing an open mosque day,” said Zaman. “We do have people from different churches, interfaith groups and organizations visit, but that wasn’t an open mosque day.”
At a Dec. 16 interfaith community solidarity event in Bloomington, spearheaded by Not In Our Town, Zaman promised to invite the public to an open mosque day.
The rally was held to show support for the local Muslim community in response to anti-Islamic rhetoric that surfaced in the United States, especially after the terror attack in San Bernardino, Calif.
Sami Syed, a member of Masjid Ibrahim mosque in Bloomington, puts away Qurans inside the mosque’s meeting room. The mosque serves more than 500 members and is opening its doors to the community on Saturday.
“After that rally in the downtown, the whole Muslim community was really, really overwhelmed with support from the rest of the communities,” said Zaman. “Regardless of their faith, they showed up to back us. That also prompted us to host this for those people and really show our hospitality.
“We want to have an open dialogue with the community to get to know them and them to know their Muslim neighbors,” added Zaman. “We don’t want people, in their minds, painting all Muslims with the same brush. Like when you say, ‘Muslim,’ the thing that may immediately come to mind is the terrorist or something.”
NIOT activist Mike Matejka said events like the one planned for Saturday often lead to residents realizing they have more in common than they think.
“Every tradition has its own rituals, its own ways of expressing its belief,” Matejka said. “I think the more we get beyond stereotype and understand what those traditions are, the the better off we will be as a community. Often times I think we will find commonality in those exchanges.”
During the open house, Dr. Sabeel Ahmed, director of Gain Peace, an outreach project of Islamic Circle of North America, will present an overview of Islam from 2:45 to 3:10 p.m.
“We want to try to explain what Muslims are about and demystify Sharia law,” said Zaman, referring to the code of law derived from the Koran and from the teachings and example of the Muslim prophet Mohammed.
During an open forum at 3:10 p.m., there will be an opportunity for discussion and for guests to ask questions and socialize with local Muslims.
Muslims pray five times a day. The non-Muslim community will have the opportunity to view the late afternoon prayer from 3:30 to 3:45 p.m., said Zaman.
Modest attire is advised. Women visiting the mosque do not have to cover their heads.
Snacks will be served, so organizers are asking anyone who plans to attend to RSVP by Thursday, Zaman said. RSVPs can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Open mosque days are planned by Muslim communities across the United States, including in Peoria on March 7, said Zaman
The Bloomington mosque and the Islamic Center of Bloomington-Normal (ICBN), 2911 Gill St., are joining together to build the new Islamic Center of McLean County.
The larger center is needed to meet the needs of Bloomington-Normal’s growing Muslim community that has gone from about 25 families when ICBN opened in December 2000 to about 200 families today.
Article Courtesy: The Pantagraph