by Saadath Afzal
DarusSalam Foundation in Lombard held a Neighborhood Open House on Saturday, January 9, 2016. Over 75 neighbors, members of religious organizations, and others visited the mosque for a tour, refreshments, a presentation, as well as a question and answer session.
The Neighborhood Open House was organized as a means for members of the recently established mosque to forge a relationship with local residents and faith-based organizations in the area. It was also used as an opportunity to foster understanding and friendship between Muslims and those of other beliefs in this time where misinformation and fear-mongering threaten to sow disunity between the two.
Prior to the Open House, volunteers of DarusSalam Foundation hand-delivered gifts to over 150 community members, religious leaders, and county officials in Lombard and surrounding areas. The gifts, consisting of chocolates and an invitation to the event, were met with different reactions. While some recipients were startled to find a Muslim speaking to them, the majority was pleasantly surprised and appreciative of the gesture. A few community members even invited the volunteers into their homes, excited at the opportunity to learn about Islam and promising to attend the Open House with their families.
At the Open House, the mosque’s congregants and its directors, Imam Minhajuddin Ahmed and Imam Azeemuddin Ahmed, welcomed neighbors as they addressed the need for building bridges between communities of differing beliefs. The visitors were then taken for a tour, which gave them the opportunity to learn about different aspects of the mosque, including the prayer hall, classrooms, ablution facilities, Islamic calligraphy, and more. Following the tour, samosas and kebabs were served as refreshments. Furthermore, visitors gathered as Dr. Sabeel Ahmed of GainPeace delivered a short presentation explaining the basic beliefs and values of Islam and Muslims, followed by an open question and answer session. On their way out, visitors were given gift bags. Translations of the Qur’an and brochures about Islam were also available for those who were interested.
Many showed gratitude for the opportunity to learn about something with which they were formerly unfamiliar, while others expressed their admiration of the Turkish-inspired architecture of the mosque. Some requested similar programs in the future so they could bring their friends and students. Overall, the program was extremely well-received, and though it was the first program of this sort offered by the mosque, it will certainly not be the last.
DarusSalam Foundation, located at the intersection of I-355 and North Avenue in Lombard, opened its doors in July of 2013. Its Masjid and Academy were established with the aim of preserving, implementing, and disseminating Islamic knowledge, as well as nurturing leaders through sound, traditional understanding and learning. For more information, visit www.DSFnd.org.