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Hundreds attend Islamic Society of Michiana open house

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

With a goal of clearing misconceptions and building bridges, the Islamic Society of Michiana opened its doors Saturday for an open house.

“I think the most important thing right now for us is to get to know each other,” said Mahan Mirza, a volunteer at the event.

His thoughts were well received by the hundreds of people who showed up.

“What better way to get to know the mosque and the culture than just to show up and immerse yourself?” said Jackie Rowan, an attendee outfitted in a hijab she had put on at one of the booths at the open house.

Through prayer and spoken word, some food and some fun, the open house was a new approach to breaking barriers.

“We just have to be willing to get outside of our box to introduce ourselves to others that may not be like us,” said Ameenah Starks, one of the event’s organizers.

“We’re not any different,” said Mirza, who teaches at Notre Dame. “We want the best for our families and we want the best for the community.”

Hundreds of people – different ages, different colors and backgrounds – showed up to learn about Islam from Muslims of all ages.

“Because of some of the attitudes that are in our country right now, we wanted to show our support for religious diversity and for our Muslim brothers and sisters,” said Brad Laird, who came to the event with his wife and daughter.

Qurans were passed out.

And questions were answered at a Q&A booth.

Organizers said it was all in an effort to educate by embracing.

“These people are peace-loving,” said Rowan. “These people love their families and they love their community, and just coming here to see it is proof of that. They wanted to know us as much as we wanted to know them.”

Members of the Islamic Society said over and over again Saturday that the doors at the center on Hepler Street are always open.

If you want to come and learn about the Muslim faith from your fellow community members, they said you should stop by.  

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