The Lethbridge Islamic Centre opened its doors to the public on Saturday, inviting hundreds of community members of all faiths and backgrounds to come together.
“It’s always an amazing feeling to see that so many people are showing up for these kind of events,” said imam and spiritual leader Aslam Piprawala, “because they want to understand who we are and they want to learn who we are.”
The open house event offered all those in attendance an opportunity to explore the mosque and participate in traditional practices, such as receiving Henna tattoo art.
Information booths and a presentation were also part of the open house, giving all those in attendance an insight to Islamic faith and Muslim culture, which Piprawala said he hopes will create more understanding and acceptance of different cultures across the city.
“We’re trying to show people the reality of Muslims,” Piprawala said.
“A lot of people may have different or wrong understandings, and these ideologies and these thinkings with regards to Muslims can sometimes hurt Muslims.”
Abdel Basat Aborawi, president of the Lethbridge Muslim Association (LMA), added the centre was eager to offer this information to the public, in hopes of creating more accurate perceptions of the Muslim community in Lethbridge and beyond.
“We needed to do more education for people to understand who we are, what are we doing here and what’s our vision and how we feel about our own community,” Aborawi said, “because this is now our home and our community.”
Aborawi said the event was also a good opportunity for himself and the now more than 200 members of the LMA to thank the city for their support.
Following the New Zealand Mosque attacks in March, Aborawi said he felt touched by the community’s willingness to stand side by side with members of the LMA in sorrow for those lost.
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“We were overwhelmed with their reactions and their love that they showed us and their support,” Aborawi said, “so we said we have to do something, we have to appreciate what we have seen.”
The LMA also added that they hope to host more events like Saturday’s open house, in hopes of building stronger relationships between all cultures in the city.
“I know now, Lethbridge loves us as part of the community as Muslims,” Aborawi said.