Omar Ibn El-Khattab Mosque opened its doors to the public Saturday afternoon for a “Get To Know Your Neighbors” open house on Saturday, hosted and organized by the Muslim Students’ Association at Ohio State and the mosque’s members.
The open house began with a welcoming address and the opportunity to observe traditional Muslim prayer, called Dhuhr, which is prayed in the early afternoon.
Although the open house was scheduled in reaction to the presidential election, the event’s purpose was also to address Monday’s attack on OSU’s campus, committed by Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a Muslim student.
“We planned to have it this weekend, and then we had the tragedy that happened on Monday on campus, and this horrific incident that without a doubt we all condemn,” said Basil Gohar, president of Omar Ibn El-Khattab’s board of directors. “We completely sympathize with the victims and the families of the victims. We are thankful that the incident was able to be stopped.”
Abdoulaye Fofana, a third-year in international studies, said he did not know what to expect before coming to the event, but was happy to see its success.
“To come and see about 150 to 200 people, just amazes me,” Fofana said. “The outpouring of support, people who just want to come and learn about this religion and this way of life, this means a lot.”
Fofana hopes attendees learned “what Islam is really about,” and can “decipher through the misinformation that is present, especially in the media, and the real Islam.”
Other members of the Muslim community also denounced the actions of Artan, who committed Monday’s attack, saying that he did not follow the teachings of Islam.
“His anger took over him, that is not Islamic. We are very sorry. We hope we could’ve talked to him, had we knew that he had some issues. Not to mention, how can you attack innocent people who have nothing to do with what you’re angry about,” said Qussai Marashdeh, an OSU alumnus.
After community members spoke about the meaning of Islam and their journeys in their faith, everyone was invited to eat a complimentary lunch with pizza and food from Lavash Cafe.
For non-Muslims in attendance, the open house was an opportunity to learn about Islam and be an ally.
“I just wanted to be more aware of how I could support the Muslim community,” said Amber Woodburn, assistant professor of city and regional planning.
Woodburn said that she felt she needed to understand the stresses her Muslim students might be facing on campus in the wake of the attack.
“As a professor, I feel very responsible for creating inclusive learning spaces, and I think for me to do that, I need to do my best to learn about the community,” Woodburn said.
The event closed with a Q&A session for the public to ask questions about Islam.