Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
August 5, 2003 | Krishnamurthy, Madhu
Six Flags Great America will host a “Muslim Family Day” Aug. 16.
Park officials have made accommodations for Muslims who need to perform daily obligatory prayers. Worshippers will be able to use one of the park’s theaters as a prayer hall and will have facilities to do ablutions before prayer.
The amusement park in Gurnee is open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and three of the five Islamic prayer times fall within those hours.
Also, Muslim women will be allowed to wear headscarves on rides, provided they are secured so they don’t get entangled with ride equipment.
The idea of having a Muslim community event came from a Chicago area scouting group.
“One thing that’s nice about this is that we also have the room for prayers because we pray five times a day,” said Toni Khatib, charter representative of the Muslim Scouts of Greater Chicago.
That makes all the difference for a lot of families and “especially for the elderly,” Khatib said. “You wouldn’t spend the whole day somewhere without having that kind of facility.”
Park officials say it is not too much trouble for them to oblige the group.
“It doesn’t really affect the daily operations of the park,” said spokeswoman Susie Storey. “Our Wilderness Theater, which does not have any shows (scheduled) in it, we’re opening it up to them so they can do their prayer services. We’ll have the cheerleading mats out there for them to kneel on.”
The park is still open for general admission.
The event first started out as a scouting trip but grew to include the Chicago area Muslim community. It is also open to groups of other faiths as well.
Several Christian churches have asked to participate in the event and can pray alongside their Muslim brethren if they choose, Khatib said.
“We’re out there with everybody else,” she said. “It’s just that sense of community. Next year, maybe we could just call it a faith day.”
Tickets are being discounted at $25 per person, but they must be purchased in advance by Aug. 15, if they are not sold out. Visitors will get to use the park on two days for that price.
Tickets are available at Chicago area mosques, suburban Islamic centers and stores.
Khatib expects at least 2,000 people to participate.
Tickets are available on specific days at the following locations
– Friday – Masjid Al-Fatir, 1200 E. 47th St., Chicago; Taqwa Islamic Center, 4545 S. Western Ave., Chicago; Islamic Foundation, 300 W. Highridge Road, Villa Park.
– Saturday – Muslim Society Inc., 1785 Bloomingdale Road, Glendale Heights.
– Everyday – Islamic Center of Naperville, 450 Olesen Drive, Naperville; Midwest Islamic Center (Masjid Al-Huda), 1081 W. Irving Park, Schaumburg; Al-Amal Supermarket, 7289 W. 87th St., Bridgeview; MCC, 4380 N. Elston, Chicago; JK Grocers, 2552 W. Devon Ave., Chicago.
– For more information, check the Web site www.chicagomuslimscouts.org.