Open-mosqueBy David Olson, The Press-Enterprise

Five Inland Islamic centers are inviting people of all faiths to their mosques to find out more about Islam and meet local Muslims.

The congregations in Corona, Riverside, Temecula, Redlands-Loma Linda and Ontario are among 24 Islamic centers in Southern California participating in the 12th annual Open Mosque Day on Sunday, Oct. 27.

The event, coordinated by the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, first began in 2002 as an effort to dispel myths about Islam in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The Islamic Center of Riverside held its own open house a few months after the 9/11 attacks, said Mustafa Kuko, the mosque’s director.

“We thought it was important to show people who we really are,” he said.

The event is still necessary, Kuko said.

“There’s always a need for people to know more about our religion,” he said. “There are so many misconceptions about Islam and so many misunderstandings that have been disseminated. People get very distorted ideas.”

Non-Muslims regularly visit the Islamic center, sometimes in school or university groups, Kuko said. Some questions and comments from visitors reveal a lack of knowledge of Islam, he said.

Even though non-Muslims are always welcome at the Islamic Society of Corona-Norco, Open Mosque Day encourages interaction, said Shabana Haxton, who chairs the interfaith and outreach committee of the mosque.

“It’s like going to someone’s home: Wouldn’t you want an invitation first?” she said. “When you have an invitation, you feel welcome.” (Read more)

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