Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Meet a Muslim event

This month, my Year of Faiths journey is focused on the religion of Islam. I'm more than halfway through the Qu'ran, am practicing the prayer postures (which make a fascinating theological study), and have some meetings lined up this month with Islamic faith leaders. One of them, Mahnaz Shabbir, invited me to attend an event put on this Sunday at Al Inshirah Islamic Center by the Crescent Peace Society: "Meet a Muslim."
It was an extraordinary experience, all around, and I was so heartened by the community's response!

Several Muslim leaders, including Mahnaz (below), shared about the Islamic faith, and offered the warmest hospitality to their curious guests. As we sat together, mostly on the floor, the sense of friendship and solidarity was deeply touching. A Muslim woman sitting beside me even took my hand - not just as a greeting, but to hold it in love. It warmed my heart.
At the call of the muezzin, we had the chance to watch the Muslim community in their afternoon prayers. Out of respect, I didn't take a picture of the prayers, but this is a photo of the enraptured audience. The Muslim speakers inculcated us into the meaning behind each posture, which enriched the whole experience (I think the postures will warrant a future blog post - stay tuned).

Later we sat together in small groups. The Imam of this community was in my group (below in the dark suit), with the eldest member of the community sitting beside him. So many of the group just wanted to dispel fears - these are veterans, doctors, leaders of charities, incredible human beings.
At the end, a panel welcomed questions. We talked through the immigration crisis, faith in America, the Muslim contribution to our armed services, what it means to be Muslim, and works of mercy. What stood out was the deep hospitality of this community, despite the less than hospitable way they're often treated.
Later this month, I'll be meeting with Sofia Kahn, a representative of the KC for Refugees group, and interviewing Mahnaz on the podcast. I hope to contribute, in my own small way, in dispelling fear... of Muslims, of immigrants, of our neighbors.
Because these friends deserve to be known, hand in hand.