Norma Croda, 70, came to check out the Muslim school her grandson may soon be attending.

Dan Reichmuth, 24, and Sandy Bartrom, 20, came out of curiosity and a desire to do something different with their Saturday.

And Tanesha Leigh, 35, came in search of a spiritual home.

The Al-Huda Foundation, a nonprofit mosque and Muslim school in Fishers, opened its doors Saturday for a “Friendship Feast” that included an ice cream truck and face painting for the kids and ethnic foods and a lesson in American Islam for adults.

Hundreds of people responded, satisfying the basic purpose organizers had for the fourth annual feast: to introduce themselves and their faith to non-Muslims in ways that go beyond news reports from the troubled hotspots of the Islamic world.

“I am proud to be an American, and I am proud to be a Muslim,” said Adel Nada, a muscular 38-year-old physical therapist who is a member of Al-Huda’s foundation and school boards. “We want our neighbors and co-workers to know we are the real Muslims.”

Croda, a grandmother who lives on Indianapolis’ Northwestside, had never been in a mosque until she stepped — barefoot, of course — into Al-Huda’s prayer hall, a place most notable for its spare openness. Able-bodied Muslims sit on the floor during Friday sermons, while others sit in a few folding chairs in the back. To limit distractions, there are few wall hangings aside from Muslim calligraphy — ornate scripts of things such as the various names of God.

“I am surprised by the simplicity,” Croda said.

Six years ago Croda’s daughter married an Egyptian. It was a shock to the family, but one they have accepted. Now, her 4-year-old grandson is about to enter Al-Huda’s preschool. “Jimmy is being raised a Muslim,” she said. She was pleased and put at ease by what she saw. (MORE)


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