In most cases in recent years, when a community event for Muslims happened, it would be held by Arabs for Arabs. Or by Pakistanis for Pakistanis. Or by African-Americans for African-Americans. And rarely did the groups mingle.
So a group of progressive mosques and Islamic centers in Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties took a chance to try to create a fun activity to bring Muslims of all stripes together to socialize.
Hundreds of North Jersey Muslims — many of whom started their journeys to America across the globe — gathered at the Muslim Community Fair on Sunday afternoon to meet others who share their Islamic faith, if not their cultures or nationalities.
“In the U.S., you work with everybody. Why don’t we do that in our community?” said Siraj Hasan, spokesman for the fair. “(We want to) open our minds to thinking in broader terms.”
Children clambered through gargantuan, inflatable playgrounds and moon bounces set up in Votee Park as adults warmed up to play a game of cricket. Toddlers cooed at the sheep and goats and birds of the petting zoo as vendors prepared food.
Yousef Abdallah, the operations manager for the local chapter of Islamic Relief in Totowa, said the nine mosques that joined with the Eid Committee of New Jersey to organize the fair wanted to bring all Muslims together.
“Culture sometimes becomes a barrier if we don’t deal with it,” Abdallah said. “We’re hoping today to break this obstacle, to let people get together. Hopefully that will bring them closer.”
In addition to all of the magic shows, face painting and henna tattoos, the fair also offered its attendees organized prayers and a recitation of verses from the Quran.