The Understanding Islam Da'awah Foundation, a local group devoted to educating people about Islam, is hosting a meet-and-greet event called Meet your Muslim Neighbor at the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga Saturday, March 3 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The group introduced the event last year and had over 2,000 people attend, according to Hammad El-Ameen, president of the foundation. He said the goal of the event is to invite neighbors in the community into the mosque to improve relationships and remove misconceptions people may have about Islam.
"It is a neighborly act," said El-Ameen, who thinks the event will have a great impact on the community and its relationship with Muslims.
According to El-Ameen, some people construe Islam to be a violent religion, believe Muslims oppress women and think Muslims do not believe in Jesus Christ.
El-Ameen said that through the event, he wants his community to learn that Muslims believe Jesus is the Messiah. He also wants attendees to learn that Muslim women are not oppressed and have a voice, and that Islam is a religion built on and around love.
El-Ameen said people were turned away from last year's event due to full capacity of the mosque. This year they are extending the length of the event and adding more activities for guests. There will be different tables set up where guests can ask questions about specific topics, such as the role of Jesus Christ in Islam and the significance of a hijab, a head covering worn in public by some Muslim women. There will also be giveaways and multiple posters with cultural information, he said.
"I take my hat off to the people in Chattanooga, because it says something about them to want to come out and learn, rather than be informed by the TV all the time," El-Ameen said. "I commend them for that."
Aside from this event, the mosque doors are always open to anyone and everyone, he said. The Islamic Society also hosts a class every week for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, the idea for which was born from the influx of questions the mosque continued to receive after the Muslim Neighbor event last year. The mosque also has a radio show called "Meet Your Muslim Neighbor," which is broadcast every Sunday and hosted by five Muslim women.
The Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga is at 2533 Gunbarrel Road.
Email Alex Farmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.