“We’re a part of the city,” Mohamed Ismail, coordinator for the open house event hosted Saturday at the Islamic Center of Manhattan, said. “We want to show the right face of Muslims.”
According to Ismail, some people may not have the right idea about Muslims due to the media’s misrepresentations. The open house was to show the public that they are normal people too.
The open house was held from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., which allowed the public to tour the mosque and learn about Islam. The tours began upstairs in the prayer room. Women could also visit the separate women’s prayer room. Attendees could also venture downstairs to the tables with different presentations about Islam, the Quran, the central religious text of Islam, and more. Food and coffee were also offered along with prizes for answering questions about what people learned at the tables.
“It’s improved communication with the community,” Dr. Fatma Radhi, presenter for the Quran table, said.
Radhi explained connections between the Quran and the Bible, and more about the Islamic faith while giving translated copies of the Quran to visitors.
The theme of the open house was, “Islam is mercy for humankind.” The table presentations emphasized that by explaining some Islamic customs. The first table was an introduction to Islam and explained the basics of the Islamic faith, but more specialized tables were open further into the tour. Topics such as the Quran, gender equality, respect for all creatures and Muslims in history were discussed.
“I’m happy,” Semiha Akdeniz, presenter for the hijab table, said. “I’m showing my tradition.”
According to a website entitled Islam, A Closer Look, a hijab is what allows Islam women to dress without showing any skin except for the hands, feet and face. At Akdeniz’s table, she explained the hijab and compared the different hijabs across religions.
People were also able to get henna tattoos and try traditional dishes while speaking with others about Islam.
According to Ismail, this is the third annual open house the center hosted. He said hosting an open house has been a learning experience for them because they had never done something like it before. Planning for this year’s open house began two months ago and included assigning people to tables, organizing the food preparations and training workshops for the presenters. The Muslim Student Association was a sponsor for the event.
This year, according to Ismail, was a success.
“We invite people to learn about the Islam community,” Ismail said.