EDMOND — Members of a mosque near the University of Central Oklahoma opened their doors to the community-at-large Sunday, hoping to meet their neighbors, educate non-Muslims about Islam and dispel myths about their faith tradition.
Visitors to the Islamic Society of Edmond’s mosque, 525 N University, listened to a presentation called “Islam 101” presented by the society’s Imam Qasim Mazhar.
Guests were invited to ask questions during a question-and-answer session, then were given an opportunity to tour the mosque and talk with Muslims who worship there.
Attendees asked questions such as how does ethnicity play a role in the way Muslims act and when was the Quran, the Islamic holy book, written.
One guest asked for information about Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims.
Another guest asked the Edmond Muslims how non-Muslims should view the significant ways that the version of Islam purported by the terrorist group ISIS differs from that of Muslims like those who attend the Edmond mosque.
Muslim leaders at Sunday’s open house answered the last question by saying they strongly condemn ISIS, whose followers have used Islam for their own agenda.
They said they consider ISIS members to be terrorists just like other terrorists who are not Muslim.
By 3:30 p.m., about 27 people had signed in as visitors at the mosque’s entrance and the come-and-go event, which began at 1 p.m., was set to conclude at 5 p.m.
Mazhar said he was pleased with the turnout for the “Building Bridges of Understanding” Open House, particularly since he and other leaders realized belatedly that attendance might be low because Sunday was Mother’s Day.
Dr. Bilal Piracha, a physician at Integris Baptist Hospital who attends the mosque, also was pleased with the turnout.
“It has been a big success because there is a positive response from the community. The people came to bridge the gaps and that’s exactly what we wanted. We want to get the people here to tell them who we are.”