Have you ever been to a mosque? I’d venture to say that most non-Muslims haven’t. That’s why Uniting NC was excited to participate last weekend in the Islamic Association of Raleigh’s Open House. The mosque opened its doors to the community on Saturday, and several hundred people attended. The mosque’s members warmly ushered visitors inside — answering their questions about Islam, offering them free food and drinks, allowing them to observe the afternoon prayers. It was one of several mosques across the state that held open houses on the same day.
These are the kinds of interactions that change hearts. Events like this shatter the stereotypes that mosques, and the people who frequent them, are shadowy or secretive, worthy of suspicion and ill-will. When you have chatted and laughed with a Muslim person — and discovered that they live in your neighborhood, work in your community, send their children to the same schools your children attend — it’s difficult to believe the oft-spouted rhetoric that all Muslims are dangerous or hate America, or that mosques represent violence or terrorism. Instead, we see that our Muslim neighbors are people just like us, trying to build a good life for themselves and their families.
Uniting NC was honored to be the only outside community organization participating in the open house. We are so glad we have been able to show our Muslim neighbors that we see them as an important part of an integrated and prosperous North Carolina. Uniting NC will keep supporting these kinds of events, and working to offer more chances for the people of North Carolina to discover that, despite their differences, they have so much in common.