The Islamic Center of Naperville looked to promote unity within the community with Open Mosque Day.
During the April 23 event, people were greeted by a number of booths, demonstrations and building tours to learn about the basic ideologies of Islam and the associated culture, including henna tattoos, food and the hijab.
Open Mosque Day serves as a platform allowing people to learn more about Islam and Muslims.
“Events, like Open Mosque Day, bring people closer together and allow us…[to open up] an environment to share the value, share the idea, share the smiles, share some food and learn from one another,” said Aadil Farid, past president of Islamic Center of Naperville.
The previous Open Mosque Day held in October 2016 saw 1,000 visitors.
“Today, we are expecting more than that,” Farid said.
Attendee Kevin Saavedra, of Aurora, said he liked what the event has to offer.
“It’s a very welcoming atmosphere,” he said. “It brings a lot of cultures together.”
Saavedra said he’s glad he decided to drop in to learn more about Islam and Muslims.
Saavedra perused a number of different booths on display at Open Mosque Day. He said his favorite part of the event was trying the food.
“It’s some of the best food I’ve ever had,” Saavedra said.
Volunteer Ayesha Kahn, 15, of Naperville, was assisting visitors as they looked to try on the hijab. She said it’s awesome to see the community coming together on Open Mosque Day.
“The people who aren’t Muslim who come here, it shows a lot about their character and who they are because they’re taking time out of their day on their Sunday and they’re coming in to learn more about our culture and our religion,” Kahn said. “It’s really cool.”
Kahn said the event does a wonderful job of breaking down the barriers that separate people.
“I think it’s a great way to bring the community together,” Kahn said. “There’s a lot of misconceptions nowadays. I know that [with] social media and the news, there’s a lot of Islamophobia and I think it’s cool that people come here and they [clear up] a lot of those misconceptions they didn’t know about.”
Farid wants people to know that it’s important to hold conversations about religion.
“We encourage people to talk because one of the things is Islam encourages us to question,” Farid said. “Blind faith is very, very, very dangerous. You have to question why am I doing this…what is the evidence. So, that is something we encourage.”
“The feedback we have is super positive, super positive,” Farid said. “Individuals who expressed that they had a negative perception before they came to Open Mosque Day, this is the day it changed a lot after they visited and after they saw that the fear of [the] unknown is gone. Now, they understand what’s happening behind these doors when they are driving on Ogden Avenue.”