Members of the Islamic Center of Greater Chattanooga pray on February 23, 2018 (Photo by Troy Stolt).

By Emma Culp, Staff Writer —

The Chattanooga community organization, Understanding Islam, invites students and the community to attend their “Meet your Muslim Neighbor” event this Saturday, March 3.

This event is organized by Understanding Islam to create a space for locals to meet their Muslim neighbors and gain a better understanding of the religion. According to member Hammad El-Ameen, the organization promotes such events to counter the negative stereotypes and hate that comes with their practice.

“Our hope is that by conducting educational events such as these is that it will remove some of the misconceptions about Islam and increase better relations between Muslims and the non-Muslim community,” said El-Ameen.

By hosting events such as these, the organization helps to find common ground between elements of Muslim faith to different religious practices. The organization hopes that with a better understanding of their religion and their people, positive relationships can form and can replace the division among religious groups living in the same area.  

This is especially relevant for college students, as students are constantly in class and working with peers from different religious backgrounds.

Senior Rachel Frizzell from Spring Hill, Tenn. attended the event last year where she toured the school inside the mosque, ate various Middle Eastern food and desserts and learned how to wear a hijab.

“I had been interested in learning more about the Middle East for a while, and saw this as an opportunity to learn more about the religion,” said Frizzell.

Frizzell said that the event attracted large amounts of people from in-state as well as out of state, eager to expand their knowledge on Middle Eastern religion. Through the event, Frizzell was able to meet a couple from Alabama who did not have a mosque in their town and traveled to Chattanooga specifically for the event.

“That was a really cool experience because we got to talk about our different travels, beliefs and current political climate,” said Frizzell.

Last year, the organization hosted a similar event titled “Euphrates Club” where attendees were taught about Middle Eastern culture, politics and religion. Frizzell attended multiple different restaurants and was served Middle Eastern cuisine with members of the group.

The organization hopes to enact positive change in conversation and gives attendees the knowledge to take into their neighborhoods, schools and workplaces. Frizzell found that despite the different backgrounds and beliefs among all the attendees, there was undeniably one common belief.

“I am not of Muslim faith,” said Frizzell, “but I still felt connected to the members of the mosque because we all had something in common — love.”

The event will be held at the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga at 2533 Gunbarrel Rd. on Saturday, March 3 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

For more information on the event, visit the Understanding Islam Facebook page.

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