Islamic Center sponsors open house

An open house at the mosque attracted more than 200 Columbia residents.

The Islamic Center of Central Missouri held an open house Sunday to inform Columbia residents about Muslim culture. The purpose was to clear some of the misconceptions about Islam. More than 200 Columbia residents, including MU students, came to the mosque to learn the religion and culture.

"This event is to educate the community about Muslims and let them learn about the religion," said Rashed Nizam, Islamic Center president.

The center holds an open house once or twice a year every year, he said.

Muslim communities have good relationships with different communities in Columbia, Nizam said.

"The center is open to people, and we have visitors from churches and lawmakers in the mosque every weekend," he said. "We have good relationships with other religions."

The event started at 10 a.m. at the Islamic Center, and every hour there was a presentation on Islam and its culture.

"Islam is the fastest-growing religion in America and the world," said MU junior Rehab El-Buri during her presentation. "It's necessary for us to cultivate understanding of Muslims among Americans."

She talked about the belief of Islam, Muslim culture and her experience as a Muslim woman.

"When people talked to Muslim women, it takes 10 minutes for them to understand that we are just normal people," she said. "I was like, 'We are human, just like you.'"

She said she grew up in Columbia and is grateful to the city because it is open-minded to Muslims compared to other cities.

Emil Kopili, a member of the Muslim community, talked about the basic concepts of Islam and Muslim.

"Islam" means peace through submission to God, or "Allah," and "Muslim" refers to one who submits to God, he said.

Anyone can be a Muslim and in fact, 82 percent of Muslims in the world are from non-Arabian countries, he said.

He talked about six elements of the belief of Islam and Islam's five pillars.

He said the practice makes the believers more patient and build compassion to others by experiencing hunger.

About 20 to 30 people attended each presentation and asked questions to the presenters.

Some asked about Islam's relationship with Christianity, while others asked about how Muslims feel about non-Muslims.

"It was pretty good, it informed people about Islam and who the Muslims are," MU senior Aaron Weaver said. "It gave people an opportunity to witness their devotion to God and their disciplines."

He said he came to the event because he was curious about why some people and the media are so negative about the religion.

"I was interested because a lot of people misunderstand them," he said.

Weaver said some Americans perceive Muslims as radical.

"It's just perceived wrong," he said. "But the presentation told me that a lot of things are just lifted up and misunderstood."

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