By Jhacquelle Swaby and Christian Cangiano
More than 300 residents of the Bay Shore community belonging to faiths other than Islam, Christianity or Judaism came together at Masjid Darul Quran last week to break down barriers and bring unity between cultures.
The event, named ‘Neighbors Together,’ was held to bring people to get a better understanding of each other’s cultures, create new friends and ‘Friendship Ties,’ one of the main organizers of the event and worshipper at the mosque Nahid Sheikh said.
Reports from the FBI states the hate crimes have increased six percent and attacks on Muslims and mosques jumped above 67 percent over 2014.
One of the goals of the event was to introduce non-Muslim attendees to some Muslim rituals, including participating in prayer. The other goal of the event was to give back to community by creating blankets that were to be given to a nursing home.
“We had this event to show people what a Masjid is, it’s not a somewhere that we’re making sacrifices or anything like that,” Sheikh said. The Masjid is the place of worship for the followers of Islam and is also known as the Mosque.
Children of the National Honor Society for MDQ Academy, the private school affiliated with the Masjid delivered the 41 blankets made during the event to residents of the East Neck Nursing Care and Rehabilitation Center in West Babylon on Friday. The blankets were a way show unity among different religions and culture.
“It was a lovefest of caring and joy and peace,” Michele Boccia, one of the coordinators of Neighbors Together, a Catholic, said, “While having fun, sharing a meal together and participating in the Muslim prayer we had a deep understanding that we are all the same. We are all part of one human family.”
They event was also an open forum for members to ask questions ranging from hijabs- headwraps worn by women- to stereotypes.
“The fact that we got more people than we anticipated was a testament to the fact that there is a hunger out there for this type of connection,” Amanda Vesey-Askey, another organizer, said.
The event was the second of its kind at the Mosque, the first was held in December. Sheikh says that the Masjid is open to hosting more events like Neighbors Together.
More events promoting unity have begun popping up across Long Island, something that Sheikh feels is a good thing. A way to give people a small experience of what people are like.
“I think that’s what it is” Sheikh said, “if you get to know someone, you understand that we’re all the same and you get to understand where they’re coming from.”