By Salahuddin Ahmed, Outreach Coordinator, ICNA IE
On the gorgeous weekend of April 18th, ICNA hosted its decennial da’wah booth at the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the largest festival its kind in the U.S., at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Over 20 trained and certified volunteers spent their weekend engaged in outreach in the community, addressing misconceptions, participating in stimulating dialogue and providing answers to a host of questions about Islam.
Thousands of people flocked the booth, attracted by the message and other activities organized by the volunteers, such as Arabic calligraphy, henna tattoos, and a quiz testing participant on their knowledge of Islam.
Occasionally, due to the sheer number of people coming to the booth, there was a shortage of volunteers able to engage in one-on-one conversation. Despite this, everyone who approached the booth departed with an enhanced understanding of the religion, and a number of individuals accepted Islam.
In the course of the two-day event, WhyIslam volunteers distributed an astonishing 6,000 copies of Quran, nearly 6,000 brochures and over 600 other media to individuals from all religious, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Among the varied visitors there were Catholic priests who discussed the position of Jesus in Islam, Muslims who questioned the necessity of prayer, and others who sought clarification about extremism. Employing tact, wisdom and knowledge, the volunteers addressed all these concerns in order to engender a positive and accurate representation of Islam.
Words of encouragement offered by a number of Muslims at the Festival provided a sense of support to the dedicated volunteers. The WhyIslam booth was a tremendous success and proved of immense benefit to the general community.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. It serves as both a reminder of one of the most traumatizing occurrences to unfold on American soil and as a testimony to the resilience of every community living here in America.