Local Muslims gathered at the Islamic Center of Conejo Valley Sunday Oct. 6 for the annual Open Mosque Day, where the public is invited to attend and learn about their religious beliefs, culture and values.
Nayeem Ahmed, president of the Islamic Center of Conejo Valley (ICCV), urged guests to participate in the question and answer session following daily prayer, which was also open to the public. Ahmed said any tough questions are welcome.
“This event is to share and teach what Islam is about so there are no misconceptions,” Ahmed said.
The purpose of the event was to host a variety of people from different age groups, ethnicities and cultures who would come together to participate in tours of the mosque and gather information from exhibits, while allowing attendees to participate in Muslim rituals.
Mus’ab Ibn Umayr School Board Member Hijasma Mohammed said it is important to acknowledge misconceptions of Muslims and give Muslims equal opportunity to introduce their culture and present their beliefs.
Mohammed, who co-coordinated an exhibit of the three Abrahamic religions, explained how the how the three religions are essentially the same, just practiced differently.
Muhammed Shoayb, worship leader of the ICCV, said he is grateful for guests who took the time to learn about their neighbors.
“You are and have done something very profound today, especially in relation to our political climate, by you taking the time to come here and be apart of this event… sends a very strong message that as a community as diverse as the United States, even though at times we might have differences, we are willing to put our religious differences aside and our political differences aside,” Shoayb said.
Shoayb said he helped clarify misconceptions by stating that women and youth are “positively vocal and more likely to attend worship” rather than the stereotype that women have no choice or say in Muslim gatherings.
Colleen Windham-Hughes, a professor in the religion department at California Lutheran University, was in attendance with her students.
“I like students to see how beliefs [and] values are showing up in the community, whether it is formal, organized religion like this is or in other kinds of ways,” Windham-Hughes said. “I like students to be a guest in other people’s spaces too and so I want them [to] come with an open mind and I want to hear what their observations are and I want to hear what kind of connections they can make to class.”