Armed with copies of the Qur’an, information brochures and gifts, trained WhyIslam volunteers engaged the visitors in discussions and answered their questions at the LA Times Book Festival for the second year in a row on April 29-30. The WhyIslam information booths again surpassed all expectations. This meant running out of all copies of the Qur’an on the first day itself. The volunteers spent rest of the evening trying to arrange more copies from individuals, Islamic Centers and book stores.Despite setting up two booths this year, the volunteers found themselves extremely busy throughout the two days with friendly discussions and handing out material at the event that drew 127,000 visitors.
There were several occasions when people were lining up to pick their free material or to ask a question. Movie producers, authors, poets, publishers, journalists, actors, even Buddhist monks were all excited to discuss Islam and everyone took home information that they could hardly find in the media. People thanked the volunteers for giving them not only the copy of the Qur’an but also the opportunity to freely discuss issues on their mind, since no topic was off limits.For most it was their first such interaction with Muslims. 5-7 people expressed their desire to embrace Islam. "I am so excited because this is the first time I am actually getting a chance to a talk to a Muslim about their faith" said Martha from Santa Monica. "Why don't you do this more often?" asked Ben an American Israeli.
With over 2700 copies of the Qur’an and over 7000 brochures distributed, these two days proved to be the busiest ever for the 20 volunteers. Gifts included bookmarks that showed a few quick tips on reading and handling the Qur’an. The WhyIslam booths were probably the only booths among the 350 that did not have anything to sell. A project of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), WhyIslam is a nationwide network of dawah volunteers who operate the Islamic information toll free line 1-877-WhyIslam and the website whyislam.org which connect volunteers with those seeking guided mosque tours, 1 on 1 email correspondence, and free literature among several other outreach services.
Day 1 Day 2 Total
2005 123 901 1024
2006 1300 1450 2750
LA Times Coverage