PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Members of the Islamic Society of the North Shore demonstrate prayer during the “Talk to a Muslim” event held at Masjid Us-Salaam on Lynnfield Street, Lynn.
By GAYLA CAWLEY
LYNN — The Islamic Society of the North Shore gave residents a chance to meet their Muslim neighbors on Sunday, joining 17 other mosques across Massachusetts that also opened their doors.
“This is what it’s really all about, for you to see us, for us to see you, to know each other and hopefully this will be the beginning of a great relation for our community,” said Fawaz Abusharkh, who led part of the “Ask A Muslim” Open Mosque Day discussion at
Islamic Society of the North Shore (ISNS) “Masjid Us-Salam.”
Abusharkh said the three discussion topics — human rights in Islam, Christianity & other religions in Islam, and women’s rights in Islam — were chosen because they were good conversation starters, important, and things that may be the most unknown to people who aren’t Muslim.
Attendees had a chance to witness a Muslim prayer service at the beginning of the program, with prayers set to be held in between discussion topics.
Abusharkh said the open house on Sunday was not any different than what people could do every day at the mosque. Anybody is welcome, any time, he said. He said the event was a way to reach out to people.
“If people know about each other, understand each other, then get together and they’ll love each other because at the end, we all have the same hopes,” Abusharkh said. “We all have the same dreams.
“There is a big misinformation and misunderstanding about many things and Islam is one of those things, and I think it’s important to introduce the religion and to let people know about it. Don’t hate me until you know me,” he continued.
With Islamophobia becoming a big issue not just in the United States, but also in England and other countries, Abusharkh said, “I think it’s important that we tell people that we are like everybody else. Ask me before you judge me.”
Discussion leaders described Islam as a peaceful religion that believes in harmony and coexistence with other faiths and religions.
Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) said what struck him from his trip to Jerusalem in the 1990s was how much people share in common in the world, and how that was important to focus on, rather than what divides people. One story in particular, regarding Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac, is important to three different religions, the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith, he said.
“I look forward to working with you together to make sure that this community continues to be one community that recognizes all faiths, all religions and is one community, and we’re all part of the city of Lynn,” McGee said.
The ISNS bought their 8,772 square-foot building in 2012 for $290,000. Their goal is to make improvements to the facility so it can accommodate 800 people.
Gayla Cawley can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.