By Suzanne Khazaal
Accommodating thousands of visitors at the Los Angeles Festival of Books at UCLA, WhyIslam Southern California handed out a record 4,640 copies of the Qur’an at the biggest and busiest booth to teach about Islam, this past weekend on April 24-25. This is the 6th consecutive year for the booth.
Explaining the Kaabah. A popular attraction at the booth.
Volunteer cheat sheet. Extensive training is needed to grab attention and convey key concepts in seconds.
After hauling a ton of publications from Houston prior to the festival weekend, an estimated 36 WhyIslam volunteers, located in two different booths, were determined to reach out to all visitors and tourists attending the festival.
Setting up both booths with a black backdrop, quiz kiosk, Arabic text Qur’an displays, custom-made table cloths, bio-degradable bags, badges, business cards, pamphlet doors, CD's and bookmarks, WhyIslam volunteers were equipped to cater to all visitors.
“I felt appreciation [upon seeing the WhyIslam booth],” said Maribel Enriquez, 34, of Long Beach. “I think it’s important to clarify misconceptions about Islam and Arabs [and it is important] to be accessible.”
WhyIslam serves English and Spanish speakers, by providing publications in both languages to better help the public learn the truth about Islam.
It was promising to see so many people eager to learn about Islam and get a translation of the Quran,” said Hassen Morad, booth Manager. “I know we effected the hearts and minds of the thousands of people we interacted with.” said Tariq Khan, manager for another booth.
Copies of The Qur’an were handed out to anyone who requested a free copy, along with a brief explanation about Islam or the revelation of the Qur’an.
“I think it helps to learn [about Islam] because of the stereotypes. It’s always good to learn about new cultures and religions and get a good understanding about it straight from the source,” said Jesse Owens, 34, of Pomona.
Religious scholars and leaders in the Muslim community, Junaid Kharsany and Mustafa Umar (above) have been continuous supporters of WhyIslam and even participated at the booths alongside volunteers.
Opening box after box, both booths were motivated to keep up with the flocks of visitors wanting to receive a free copy of the translation of the Qur’an in English or Spanish, along with free pamphlets, bookmarks, business cards and the Qur’an recitation on audio CDs.
Deep in thought at the Islamic Quiz Kiosk. Participants won a card with their name in Arabic calligraphy.
After visiting the booth, Jasmine Mortaya, 19, of Lancaster said she learned about the prophets in Islam. “I’ve been interested in wanting to read the Qur’an, so I plan on reading it to learn more about Islam,” said Mortaya.
Astonished when volunteers mentioned all publications were free of charge, visitors mentioned they were thankful and glad WhyIslam was at the festival to clear misconceptions surrounding Islam and its followers.
“Every time I’ve heard about Islam it’s always been negative because of the news, which is all lies, and the way I believe to learn is by picking up a book and reading about it,” said J.C. Carrillo, 33, of Downey.