Thousands show up at the 21 Islamic Centers across N.E. Area
By Tahir Ali
PC: Zaynab Silva, Fazal Alam, Martin Bentz and Amr Elfas
Worcester – 4/8/2018: Sunday April the 8th, 2018 was the day when 21 Islamic Centers in the New England area decided to open the doors to the general public, a CAIR initiative coined as “Meet your Muslim Neighbor Day”
The Islamic Society of Greater Worcester (ISGW) and the Worcester Islamic Center (WIC) – were among the 21 Mosques that participated in the open house event. Members of Interfaith, elected officials including Mayor of Worcester and Joe Early, DA joined the hundreds who attended the open house at both centers. The Worcester Telegram and the Charter TV3 carried the news and encouraged people to participate in both Worcester Centers. Amjad Bhatti (ISGW President) and Dr. Mohammad Ramzan (WIC President) in their respective interviews pointed out what to expect at the open house.
WGGB/WSHM of Western Massachusetts News reported, “Mostly misunderstood community is opening its doors this evening so others can ask questions about their religion. Islamic Society of Western Mass participated in the international open house today.”
“At the Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland” reported Judy Fasman in the JewishBoston Magazine, “there is beauty in the swirling Arabic letters. There is elegance in the geometric patterns on the walls and the plush green carpeting. The occasion for my visit to the mosque was the second annual Massachusetts Open Mosque Day. In the spirit of “Open Minds, Open Hearts,” 21 mosques across Massachusetts opened their doors to guests. At the mosque I went to in Wayland, the lovely welcome included an impressive assortment of sweets, a bevy of information and a warm welcome from Muslim neighbors who wanted to share their culture and beliefs.” – Photos below show the Wayland Mosque, WIC (Worcester), ISB (Cambridge).
American Islamic Center in Everett – “the event is intended to help dispel misconceptions about Muslims.” Wafa Wahabi said.
ISBCC – Boston Globe wrote: “I think it’s nice to learn about religions other than your own,” said Mary Matero. “So you’re more open and see how other people worship.” Yusufi Vali, executive director at the ISBCC added: “It’s a really lived experience of the Muslim community. The real benefit of this is people get to meet real people and make their own judgements about who Muslims are.” The Globe shows 8 year old Kasim giving roses to visitors, “Thank you for coming,” he said to them with a smile. “I want him to feel proud of his identity,” said the boy’s father, Kemal Kulovic, of Arlington. “I teach him to be nice and merciful to others, to serve others, to help others, to be on his best behavior, to be the best person he can be.”
In reference to ISB in Cambridge and others, the Boston Herald, US News, and Associated Press resonated the message: “Islamic communities across Massachusetts are opening their doors to foster better understanding of the faith.”
Kimoz observed,”As a spin-off the open mosque day we were honored to welcome these amazing students from Shady Hill School at ISB. They asked amazingly powerful questions that reflected purity, decency, High IQ and willingness to learn.”
Nadim Sikandar, Principal of AlHuda Academy along with consultant Dr. Nana AbdelKader, the Parents and Teachers opened the Academy doors to public. The Mayor of Worcester Joe Petty attended and media covered the event, called “Stream Around the Globe” – the students had a display of the countries around the Globe that depicted each countries culture, and their food dresses. The Mayor, the public and all were completely mesmerized with the resolve and spirit the students prepared for this event.
Aimee Chiavaroli of Bedford Standard Times reported: “For the second straight year [the Masjid Al Ehsan] in Dartmouth opened its doors to invite the community in to share information about their religion, lives and the challenge they face.” Its President Hosam Mahmoud told the reporter, “he thinks the attitude toward Muslims is becoming more positive.” Hosam attributed this to last year’s open house that drew 268 people. Shima Mahmoud offered this advice, “Don’t let any idea or pre judgement affect your experience in dealing with people.” She then summarized, “We are all different… Lets not make our differences separate us.”
It is encouraging to note that the first “Meet a Muslim Day” organized by WIC in 2016 that drew over 1500 non-Muslims, is catching on in a more collective form. The Muslim festival organized by the Islamic Center in Malden was another successful event that followed soon after. Islamic Centers are showing solidarity to CAIR by observing the event on the same day, hereon.
Most of the participating Islamic Centers [including the ones in Sharon, Lowell, Malden, Roxbury and others] featured: Meet and Greet with flowers, Islamic Calligraphy, Art and Artifacts, Traditional dresses, Henna and face painting, ‘Try on a Hijab’ stall, Meet a convert, International food and Bazaar, scheduled Mosque tours, plus a town hall style Q&A Islam101 session and then some.