In an ongoing effort to dispel misconceptions about Islam, 23 mosques will open their doors Sunday to the non-Muslim community.
Visitors will get a peek inside a mosque, meet Muslims and eat cultural food, but “most importantly of all, figure out ways in which people of all faiths and traditions can work together for the common and the greater good in their respective cities,” says Shakeel Syed, executive director at the Islamic Shura Council.
It's all part of the 10th annual Open Mosque Day, which first began as a response to 9/11 but has since grown into an annual event. The Islamic Shura Council, an umbrella organization made up of mosques and Muslim organizations in Southern California, looks forward to putting on the event year after year.
“The tragedy of 9/11 has manifested in so many ways to so many people, including Muslims, of course. The desire and curiosity in the society at large to learn about Islam, to learn and know about Muslims, has never been more. It only increases,” says Syed.
Syed, who will be hosting the event at the Culver mosque, went on to say that Open Mosque Day provides the platform to not only answer questions but also look for solutions to common community concerns.
“People of faith, people of conscience, can come together and figure out a way — what are the things we can do to make sure our children and grandchildren are safe,” Syed said.
Vicki Tamoush, a Tustin resident who has attended Open Mosque Day for many years and plans to do so again on Sunday, says such events are needed now more than ever.
“For a lot of people, it’s the first time they’ve gone to a mosque, and they have all these questions in their mind based on incorrect things they’ve seen on the media or incorrect things that they’ve heard from people who may be bigoted,” says Tamoush, a member of the Episcopal Church.
When those people speak with a Muslim face-to-face, they realize that despite the differences, there are underlying similarities as well, Tamoush said.
Although people are always welcome to visit a mosque, Syed says, Open Mosque Day is a more formalized setting.
Tamoush said that, regardless how many times she’s visited a mosque, walking into a mosque at random could be intimidating.
“I’m sure I would be welcomed, but I think I would feel shy,” Tamoush said. “But, on Open Mosque Day, I know that all people visiting there are there to learn and understand, and I know that all the people who go to that mosque are there to answer me honestly.”
Open Mosque Day will take place at mosques across Southern California between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Check out the map for locations.