IN: Muslim Foundation Hosts ‘Friendship Feast’

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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