—FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—
JAMAICA, New York (September 15, 2008) – Fasting Volunteers Answer Questions posed at Information Tables on Islam in NY.
The New York Chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and its 877-WHY-ISLAM project are sponsoring information tables on Islam in New York City beginning in the month of Ramadan.
People nearby heard the volunteers at the information table say “Free water!” Another volunteer, Mikaeel Nicasio comments “Agua Gratis!” The reactions to this effort ranged from sincere curiosity to positive feedback and dialogue. Passers by commented, “You are brave for doing this.” “Is it really free?” Reasonably engaging each other in mutual discussion, the aim of these informational tables is to break down walls, stereotypes and misunderstandings.
“The outreach tables in the city have been a positive learning experience for both Muslims and Non-Muslims because they allow for interfaith dialogue.” said Mikaeel Nicasio, a volunteer at an information table. “Most people didn’t know Muslims believe in Jesus and Adam. They did not know Muslims believe in the Prophets and in One God. Many were amazed at the similarities in belief systems, as was I.”
Ramadan is a month when Islam receives more attention because Muslims are fasting at the workplace or at school. Over seven million Muslims in the United States alone and over 1 billion Muslims worldwide observe fasting, the third pillar of Islam. “Half way through the day my mouth went completely dry from answering the many questions people had on Islam.” said Omar Ranginwala, Project Coordinator. “Even though we’re fasting and thirsty, our thirst gets quenched spiritually when we give away free water. We’re very happy to educate our community by means of sharing unbiased, balanced information on Islam.”
Volunteers at these tables have distributed over 700 brochures on typically misunderstood concepts in Islam in the first 2 days. Barbara Fazio, a volunteer, commented: “I enjoy being here and educating others and want to stay as long as I can.”
The information tables will coincide with educational advertisements on Islam that will debut today in 1,000 MTA subway cars. There will be multiple information tables in the New York City area appearing throughout the duration of the subway ads. Many questions have arisen about Islam due to the media attention on this 877-WHY-ISLAM project.
“We thank Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the MTA for their support in allowing the public to see past all this negativity that results from Islamophobia. We see the need for more educational opportunities to dispel myths and biases that have unfortunately been projected due to ignorance,” said Azeem Khan, a spokesperson for the subway ads. The ads can be viewed on http://www.youdeservetoknow.org.
For further information visit http://www.youdeservetoknow.org