Islamic Center opens doors to Manhattan community for open house

Rozina Kar, junior in microbiology, and Safae Bomkbir, member of the Islamic Center, apply henna on the hands of Sophia Leonard, junior in microbiology, and her sister, Natalie Leonard, freshman in open option, at the Islamic Center open house on Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Regan Tokos | Collegian Media Group)

The Islamic Center of Manhattan hosted its 12th annual open house Saturday, where attendees were encouraged to take off their shoes (or slip booties over them) and explore the booths, interact with volunteers and learn about the mosque and the religion of Islam.

Booths were put up displaying the Five Pillars of Islam and explaining women’s role in the religion. Attendees had their hands decorated with henna and learned to write their names in Arabic. Women had the chance to try different head coverings, and all were welcome to ask any questions they had.

Carolyn Thompson, a Manhattan resident, said she has attended several of the Islamic Center’s events since its founding in the 1980s. She continues to attend events out of respect for the founder, who she knew, and to continue learning about Islam through the “gracious and humble” volunteers.

“I’m just so impressed by the turnout that [the open house] had and by how well-staffed it is and how gracious everyone is,” Thompson said. “It’s just a very rewarding experience, personally.”

There were approximately 120 attendees at this year’s open house, which is down from previous years, according to a Collegian article from last year. Some volunteers attributed the lower attendance to the home football game Saturday.

Hannah Corbus, sophomore at Manhattan Christian College studying intercultural justice and Arabic, attended the open house for the first time. Corbus said she enjoyed the event and the volunteers who answered her questions.

“I really appreciate how they are so willing to open it up to everyone and share what they’re all about,” Corbus said. “It’s really important, because so many people are unaware or have different misconceptions. So, it’s so good to come and make friends.”

Hayder Rasheed, Islamic Center board member and professor of civil engineering at Kansas State, said community education was the purpose of the open house.

“We’re trying our best to communicate what we do, how we practice our religion and how we follow the required things to fulfill our faith,” Rasheed said.

Rasheed said the event opens the door for the transient, international K-State community to learn about the center.

Zubieda Alali, volunteer at the open house, answered several questions regarding the hijab and Muslim prayers.

“I’m really happy with people coming here and trying to learn more about Islam,” Alali said. “Visiting this place, having different people together — I wouldn’t say this would erase our differences, but it could bring us together.”

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