by Aadil Farid
The Islamic Center of Naperville (ICN) Open Mosque Day was not just an open mosque day, it was a community uniting day. It was truly a celebration of unity and solidarity of human beings and citizens of Naperville, a true reflection of One Naperville, One Community, One Humanity. It was a proud day for America and Human civilization.
Before the opening bell at 11:00 a.m., visitors started to walk in. Enthusiasm and excitement was evident with their arrival. ICN Girl scouts were ushering and registering the guests. ICN community members were just as welcoming with smiles and warmth. Over 800 guests attended.
Open Mosque Day brought people together from all walks of life and was a true reflection of One Naperville, One Community. We were honored to have the presence of our Naperville Mayor Mr. Steve Chirico.
The Islam, Qur’an and Science booth was an amazing experience for visitors as they learned of the cohesion and consistency in scientific knowledge and Islamic teachings. They were also informed of the scientific facts mentioned in the Qur’an over 1400 years ago, which were discovered only recently by modern day science.
At the booth on the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), visitors learned about the final message of God through his last and final Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) in the beautiful chain of all the prophets from Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, David, Solomon, Moses, to Jesus Christ (peace be upon them all). They also learned about how the Qur’an is preserved and transmitted, as well as the various miracles of the Qur’an.
The food station was, as always, a popular spot. Delicious food, welcoming attitude and plenty of smiles kept inviting visitors for second and third rounds. The program included Qur’an recitation and call to prayer by ICN youth,entertaining and informative video clipsand many booths, including the Islamic artefacts booth, which featured many cultural and religious items. . A feature that was new and really interesting for the guests was watching the adhan (call to prayer) in sign language, performed by our cub scouts, while it was being called.
Mayor Chirico delivered a heartwarming and uniting speech. He chose to sacrifice his personal family time to be part of his extended family of Naperville Muslim residents at ICN.
The tour guides continued to take the visitors in batches for a mosque tour and introduced them to the different parts of the mosque. Curiosity was at its peak amongst the visitors who asked the volunteers multiple questions.
Ladies and girls got an opportunity to enjoy Henna (beautiful hand painting/non-permanent palm tattoo) and to try on the Hijab. Guests enjoyed looking at their reflection in the mirror and taking pictures. In fact, many of them kept the hijab on during their entire stay, since they received a free hijab to take home.
Islamic calligraphy was something everyone enjoyed and got a gift of their names written in beautiful Arabic writings. Mayor Chirico was amazed at the beauty of Arabic calligraphy. He was presented a gift with his name written in Arabic.
There was a meet the Imam section, with long lines to shake hands with Imam Rizwan Ali and Sk. Omar Hedroug. Many questions were asked and answered in a pleasant manner.
The Women’s Right booth had serveral presentations. Some of topics discussed were the status of women, freedom, rights and respect – all things that were deemed as rights for women by Islam 1400 years ago.
In addition, the “Islamophobia and Extremism” booth attracted a lot of visitors. The guests asked a lot of questions and the interactions were cordial. Our message was clear and consistent with what we deliver from pulpit and other platforms: Islam is religion of peace and it professes, preaches, teaches and promotes peace, nothing but peace. At ICN our core values are tolerance, justice, peace and progress for all.
During Dhuhr prayers (the afternoon congregational prayer), both the prayer halls were packed with guests as they observed the prayer in silence. This was followed by a number of questions that were addressed by Shaykh Rizwan and others.
Many guests and visitors expressed their gratitude for being invited to the ICN Open Mosque day, which was rich in its offerings and diverse in its content. They expressed how strongly they felt to be positively connected with their Muslim neighbors. Many women visitors were taking pictures with Muslim ladies with big smiles and in solidarity.
Although the event was scheduled from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., many guests stayed well beyond enjoying the conversation and camaraderie.