April 3, 2006
In today’s post 9/11 America, much attention is being given to Islam and Muslims. More often than not, coverage of Islam and Muslims is limited to the sensational and the extreme. Moreover, commentators on cable and radio stations often approach the subject with an emotional bias rather than a comprehensive objective analysis. This, coupled with the limited accessibility of outspoken moderate Muslims, leaves the average American gravely misinformed about Islam and Muslims.
But that is slowly changing. American Muslims are beginning to reach out – now more than ever. Muslim Activists are beginning to realize that the onus is on them to build bridges with their neighbors and fellow citizens if they are ever to erase misconceptions about themselves and their faith.
One good example of this is the “Building Bridges to Islam” lecture series hosted by two leading American public service organizations: CAIR-Chicago and Edlerhostel. CAIR-Chicago is a local chapter of the Council on American-Muslim Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group. Elderhostel is the nation’s first and the world’s largest educational and travel organization for older adults. Elderhostel advertises the program and signs up interested members from all over the Chicago area, while CAIR-Chicago administers the program which it hosts at the Islamic Community Center of Des Plaines, a model Mosque known for its solid commitment to interfaith activities.
“Our goal is to demystify Islam and Muslims and to show the true face of things as they stand,” Yaser Tabbara, CAIR-Chicago’s Board Member, said. “Misunderstanding originates when a lack of communication is prevalent; this effort is truly about building bridges for a better America.”
The Annual all-day program which debuted last year in January 2005 is to be held again this year starting every Wednesday from April 5, 2006 – May 10, 2006.
Each week’s program hosts 75-80 people, for an estimated total of 500 people (6 total Wednesdays). Each day the program is held, guests are treated to two interactive lectures on Islam and Muslims, a Q&A town hall session, a tour of the mosque, prayer service, and a Middle-Eastern full course dinner. The program is designed to be informative, meaningful, and relevant to an American audience while added focus is given to audience participation in order to ensure full customization of the program in addressing their concerns.
“This is a wonderful experience for everyone involved; the feedback we’re getting from the audience is heartwarming,” Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago and the program’s administrator said. “They come to us with a burning curiosity and a sincere desire to understand; in turn, we try to candidly address all their questions, and to leave no controversial topic untouched. This is the sort of community-driven initiative that America needs more of at this juncture in our history.”
For more information on “Building Bridges to Islam” lecture series hosted by CAIR-Chicago in conjunction with Elderhostel, please visit: Elderhostel Event
There are an estimated seven million Muslims in America today and nearly 2,500 mosques, Islamic schools and Islamic centers across the country. There is an estimated 1.25 billion Muslims worldwide.
– END –
CONTACT: CAIR-Chicago’s Executive Director, Ahmed Rehab, 847-971-3963, email@example.com or 312-212-1520