CAIR-Chicago hosted its first of two Elderhostel’s Days of Discovery “Building Bridges to Islam” programs at the Prayer Center of Orland Park (OPPC). Nearly 30 participants attended this perennial educational immersion event previously held in Des Plaines and Northbrook. The “Bridge to Islam” program provided participants with informative and interactive presentations, and included a tour of the mosque. Elderhostel, a non-profit organization, facilitated the event as a part of its program to provide extraordinary learning adventures for people 55 and over.
Upon the welcome, a two-part presentation was delivered: “An Introduction to the Faith: The Qur’an, Islamic Law and Misconceptions of Islam” and “A Brief Historical, Cultural and Anecdotal Account of Islam.” Dr. Sabeel Ahmed, Director of the GainPeace Project, an outreach project of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), presented. The guests also observed the congregation take part in noon and afternoon prayers.
Members of the OPPC mosque graciously contributed to the guest experience. One of the mosque’s active community members, Ahmed Mustafa, led the tour of the mosque, sharing its history, programs, services and a profile of its community. The mosque has served as a model for its outreach to the community. The tour offered a closer look at the unique indigo exterior and gold dome of OPPC, one of the newer mosques in the metro area. Participants were impressed by all that the Mosque had to offer. Lunch was catered by local vendor Leila Maali of Grapevine Foods in Orland Park. OPPC volunteers Malik Shaar and Suleiman Ramadan, and CAIR-Chicago Volunteer Activist Anam Eljabali also took part in accommodating the guests throughout the program.
The program concluded with a panel discussion on the Islamic world today, Muslims in America and women in Islam. The panel included Imam Abdul Malik Ryan, Muslim Chaplain at DePaul University, Reem Rahman, Communications Coordinator at CAIR-Chicago, and Gerald Hankerson, Outreach Coordinator at CAIR-Chicago. The panel was structured, yet informal with free flowing questions and answers.
Guests shared positive feedback, stating that the speakers were engaging and the topics provided much ground for discussion and insight. Helen Bourke, one of the participants, felt that the program was “very informative in so many ways. It is good to reach out and learn about other cultures.”
“Building Bridges to Islam” aims to deepen the understanding of the local Muslim community through immersing participants in cultural and religious aspects. Guests received complimentary copies of the Qur’an and other Islamic literature from OPPC.
CAIR-Chicago worked hand-in hand with Elderhostel, which is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing extraordinary learning adventures for people 55 and over. The last program will be held on Wednesday, June 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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