Successful booth at LA Times Book Fest amid concerns
By Roomana Songerwala
LOS ANGELES, California (April 22, 2013) – Over the past two days the prestigious Los Angeles Times Festival of Books was held on the sprawling grounds of the University of Southern California campus amid a warm but breezy weather.
ICNA’s outreach project WhyIslam was present in its 9th year with two professionally decorated booths. Nearly 40 trained volunteers gave over 2,000 copies of translations of Quran and over 6,000 pamphlets on Islam to those who requested it. Thirty one people embraced Islam during the weekend at the event.
“People were very receptive (to the message of Islam)” said Sameer Shaikh, manager of one of the booths. The WhyIslam booths were the center of attention in two corners of the festival. After many hours of tiring dialogue, someone would be on the verge of shahadah; a proclamation of the Islamic creed, thereby entering the fold of Islam, but someone not very at-home with Islam would say something to dissuade her. This was a familiar routine. A young festival goer came and said “I lived among Muslims, heard everything good about Islam and now all I needed was the Quran – and there you are!” But the conversation with him ended with a shahadah.
One of the volunteers was describing the different kinds of people mentioned in the first chapter of the Quran, Surah Fatihah to very interested individual. She was saying that those who had invited the wrath of Allah and those who were astray. But those who were blessed with favors were those who took the guidance from God.
The booth came a day after the devastating Boston bombing attacks. The trained volunteers went out of their way to satisfy the thousands of queries and to convey the correct message of Islam with professionalism and excellence. “We were able to discuss with our visitors that Islam doesn’t condone violence and dispel many myths regarding Islam” said Dr. Salahuddin who is the manager of one of the booths.