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Archive for Saturday, October 9, 2004

Center to counter misconceptions

October 9, 2004

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Many Americans get their only knowledge of Islam, Muslims and Muslim culture from what they see on TV news reports -- and it's an unflattering picture.

It's also no way for people in the United States to accurately learn about a people and a faith, according to Moussa Elbayoumy, director of the Islamic Center of Lawrence, 1917 Naismith Drive.

That can only come from meeting Muslims in person and being able to openly ask questions about their lives.

Lawrence residents will be able to do that Tuesday at the Islamic Center's first-ever, all-day community open house.

It will not only be an opportunity for visitors to learn about Islam, but also for Lawrence Muslims to counter common misconceptions about their faith.

"People don't realize that Muslims worship the same God that Jews and Christians do. We consider it an extension of the Judeo-Christian tradition. We refer to it as the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition, or the Abrahamic tradition," Elbayoumy said.

"A lot of people are surpassed to learn that when they look at the basics of the faith. Yes, there are some differences, but we have a lot more in common."

What kind of questions are center members expecting to get at the open house?

"People will ask about the basics of faith, and how they relate to other religious traditions. People will ask about Islam and the perceived tendency to violence and terrorism, because that's another misconception," he said.

"We expect people to ask about whether all Muslims are Arabs or all Arabs Muslims. A question that always comes up (about the faith) is the role of women in Islam; that's another widely spread misconception."

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