Islamic Association opening doors to all

June 9, 2012 (FRANKFORT, Ill.)

It's one of several ways they are working to increase awareness about their faith and to dispel myths about their community.

Hundreds flock to prayer service at the American Islamic Association mosque in Frankfort as one of five times a day the devout are required to pray.

For them it is customary, but they know for many outside of their faith, the practice may draw concerns. They expect that inviting the community to join them inside could help ease minds.

"Because of the fear about Muslims that what do we do in our prayer house, maybe we are anti-Americans and we talk about terrorism," said Shahzad Khan. "So the idea is to be open and be friends with everyone and let people know we are a peaceful people."

Sunday during the group's seventh annual community fair and picnic, visitors will be able to attend a service, tour the mosque, and ask any questions that might arise.

"Mostly they ask that question: you only believe in one prophet and we let them know that we believe in all prophets and one god," Khan said. "People are curious to know how do we pray on the ground and most of the places you go, they sit down on the chair."

Visitors will also be able to sit in on various Sunday school classes where children learn the pillars of Islam.

They will also get a taste of the culture by sampling regional foods. Shami Kabob and Grill is one of six restaurants that will be on hand serving American, Pakistani, Indian and Arabic foods.

"Everybody's welcome to this event and like I say, we like to expose our food and our culture to everybody so they start to know and understand where we come from and what kind of food we serve," said Shami Kabob and Grill owner Ghashen Omran. "It's a good event. Muslim, Christian, anybody is welcome."

The American Islamic Association's community fair and picnic is Sunday from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Admission is free.

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