CA: Mosque Open Houses Focus on 'Building Bridges'


Donna and Larry Teeter stopped by the Islamic Center of Corona on the way home from church on Sunday.

The Corona couple had never been inside a mosque and wanted to find out more about the traditions of Islam.

"It's learning about your neighbors," Donna Teeter, 53, said after mosque members gave the couple a tour of the Islamic center and explained teachings of the Quran. "I think this helps people understand each other. They don't have to be afraid of other people."

The Islamic Center of Corona and the Islamic Center of the Temecula Valley were among 13 mosques in Southern California that held open houses on Sunday. The fifth annual "open mosque day" was sponsored by the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, an umbrella organization of mosques and Muslim organizations.

Kalim Farooki, a board member of the council, said the event aims to introduce area residents to Islam and counter negative stereotypes of Islam as a violent religion.

"People can see that the teachings of the Quran are nonviolence, the sanctity of life, the importance of family, respect for elders and the value of the environment, of all creation," Farooki said.

Salman Aqueel, a member of the Corona mosque who is active with two groups that educate people about Islam, told the Teeters that Christianity, Judaism and Islam share many beliefs. Jesus, Moses, Isaac, Noah, Jacob and Abraham are Muslim prophets, he told the Teeters, who are members of the First Congregational Church in Corona.

"This is about building bridges," Aqueel said. "There are a lot of misconceptions out there."

John and Celeste Preble brought their two children -- Jacob, 13, and Lauren, 7 -- to the Temecula mosque to help ensure that they grow up knowing about the face of mainstream Islam, not just the extremist version that gets the most media coverage.

 


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