Columbia Mosque opens doors to public
COLUMBIA - The Islamic Center of Central Missouri opened its doors to the public Sunday from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Located in downtown Columbia, visitors were given tours of the mosque, viewed traditional prayer services and attended presentations about Islam.
These presentations included Islam 101 and Women In Islam. Open house day volunteer and keynote speaker, Tahura Lodhi, intended to address common misconceptions community members may hold about Muslim women.
"I think the most common stereotype is that hijab is usually associated with oppression and keeping women separated or covered," Lodhi said. "In reality, Islam is more about empowerment and about strength."
Lodhi explained how the hijab is used to cover a woman's body in order for her voice, personality and character to be her most highly valued qualities.
The presentations were open to questions from community members and were intended to educate the community on Muslim traditions and values. Visitors were requested to remove their shoes and enter through the doors of their respective genders.
"We do have two different entrances because prayer is done separately," Lodhi said. "Prayer is a very physical prayer in Islam. There's a lot of movement including standing and bowing. To allow everyone to just focus on their relationship with God, we do separate genders when we pray."
After visitors observed prayers and attended the presentations, they were welcomed to sample Muslim foods and view traditional clothing. Mosque volunteers wrote visitors' names in Arabic, drew henna designs on hands and were available to answer any questions about the Islamic religion and culture.
"I hope this clears up the unknown and uncertainty about Islam," Lodhi said. "I think people are scared to ask questions or just know what they have been told on the news. This event is to allow people to have conversations and to get to know each other and break down those barriers."