CAIRO - Copying successful experiences of mosques open doors across America, a Wisconsin mosque has been opening its doors for months, inviting neighbors for regular discussions on Islam and creating a unique interfaith atmosphere.
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.
Over the past few years, different mosques across America have bewen hosting regular open houses to strengthen community outreach.
The regular event have also helped in diminishing hostility towards Muslims, especially after 9/11 attacks.
At the Green Bay mosque of the Islamic Society of Wisconsin, the experience was different.
Opening its doors to the public, the mosque also hosts a regular open house every few months specifically to increase community discussion.
Inviting different cultures inside the mosque, the events helped 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 of Green Bay, 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.
Inviting non-Muslims, members of the mosque congregation were keen on fighting 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 were 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 Quran.
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.
Another report by CAIR, the University of California and Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender found that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.
A US survey had also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup poll had found that 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least a little prejudice against Muslims.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net