Saturday morning, the Islamic Center of Manhattan opened its doors to the community. Members of the Islamic Center’s community put together presentations on the five pillars of Islam and Muslim women and provided Arabic food and drink in the 11th annual open house.
“We (Muslims) are among your community,” Manaf Sellak, president of the Islamic Center, said. “We are part of the community in Manhattan.”
Sellak said he wants everyone in the community to know they are welcome to come ask questions about Islam. Students and anyone else interested are encouraged to come and learn about the true Islamic faith that is not represented in the media.
According to Sellak and many of the other presenters, the purpose of the event was to raise awareness of Islam in the Manhattan community and debunk some of the myths and stereotypes. Two of the presentations included discussions on the roles of Muslim women in Islam and the ideas of war and peace in the Quran.
“There’s a lot for people to do and learn,” Virginia Brunner, an English language program instructor, said. “We’ve got a nice community. Very open, very welcoming.”
Brunner was one of the many coming to visit the Islamic Center. According to Sellak, 280 people signed into the event. He said this is around 30 percent more than last year.
Visitors were first led through the mosque, shown where prayers are held, where the women’s section of the mosque is and the library where reference books in both English and Arabic are held.
Presentation booths were set up downstairs, where volunteers explained a multitude of facets of Islam. Tables were also set up so people could sit and try beef kabobs, caramel desserts and Arabic coffee.
“You can experience (Islam) for yourself,” Abdulkareem Alkhiary, freshman at Manhattan High School and volunteer, said about the open house.