WISCONSIN – Inviting non-Muslim neighbors for regular discussions on Islam, a mosque in the north-central US state of Wisconsin has been opening doors for people of different cultures to help create a better atmosphere for interfaith relations.
“This was a most excellent conversation,” Peter Kellogg, a retired University of Wisconsin-Green Bay professor, told Green Bay Gazette.
“So many people make Islam sound intolerant, when in fact, they’re particularly tolerant, more tolerant than most.”
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The Green Bay mosque of the Islamic Society of Wisconsin has been opening doors for neighbors to better know Islam.
The mosque hosts a regular open house every few months, specifically to increase community discussion.
Inviting people of different cultures into the mosque, the events help in highlighting similarities between Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
While the words of Islam may be different from other religions, “the message is the same,” Caldwell, a member of the congregation, said.
Mohamed Zakarya, one of the mosque’s leaders, said Islam is about submission to God and peace.
“It encompasses everything in life,” he said.
“It’s a way of life.”
The five daily prayers are completed “under any circumstance, at any time,” Zakarya said.
“Every single act is an act of worship.”
Mosque leaders say that the events help fight prevailing misconceptions about Islam and Muslims.
“There are many misconceptions about Muslims and Islam,” Kellogg said, adding that the question-and-answer session affirmed that.
“But I felt a real warmth today.”
Attendants are also introduced to some of the faith’s basic teachings and rituals that may be unfamiliar to non-Muslims.
The Wudu room is one of those features.
Muslims cleanse to ensure purification before prayer, Caldwell said.
Wudu is completed in a specialized place to cleanse, designed for washing the mouth, nose, arms and feet, before each prayer and handling the Qur’an.
As for gender segregation in prayer, Caldwell said it was stipulated because “we’re here to focus on one thing — God.”
Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to from 7-8 million Muslims.
An earlier Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.A US survey had also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
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