Islamic Center shares religion, culture with community
By Dana Treen
Reservations for the eighth Sharing Ramadan celebration had to be cut off to avoid overcrowding at the event Sunday, organizers said.
Aimed at offering the community a chance to understand the month of daily fasting that breaks at sundown each day, the open house at Islamic Center in Jacksonville hit the limit early, said Fawad Mansoori, a member of the board of directors.
Interest has grown over the years, and about 250 guests and an equal number of Muslims spent the evening together, finally sharing a meal after sundown.
The Islamic community’s outreach is intended to dispel what Mansoori said is a lingering lack of understanding.
“There’s still a lot of people that have no information or misinformation about Islam,” he said. “We are trying to build those bridges.”
Invited to give the keynote speech, Duval County schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said Jacksonville should celebrate diversity and not mistrust differences.
“Often we talk about tolerance, and we link that to diversity,” he said. “In my mind, diversity means we accept difference.”
There has been a loss in pride and value of diversity, he said.
“I think that is one thing we have lost in public education is the development of the whole child,” Vitti said.
The celebration also showcased newly rendered calligraphy along the halls and in worship areas of the center. An artist from Turkey spent about three weeks at the center recently painting the inspirational depictions.
Alex Sivar called the scripts that attest God’s attributes “music to the eyes.”
Among the curious was Stephanie Slaymaker, who was adorned with a scarf as she came in.
“We just wanted to see the event,” she said as she and two young companions went into the main hall.
She and others were welcomed in an address by Mohammed Mona, chairman of the center’s board, and separate discussions of Ramadan, calligraphy and the dinner.
“I do think we have a lot more in common than most of us think,” Mona said.
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Original post: Islamic Center shares religion, culture with community