As part of National Open Mosque Day, the Islamic Center of Santa Clarita, the Islamic Center of Santa Clarita welcomed members of the community to learn about their faith.
The Islamic Center of Santa Clarita has been a part of the community for roughly 30 years, and just celebrated the one-year anniversary of its new center in September. Ahmad Farhad, who is on the board of directors, said participating in Open Mosque Day is just one of the ways that the Islamic Center has been trying to reach out to the community and create new relationships.
“Having an actual coordinated Mosque Day across the country is great because it encourages other people to come and actually see a mosque, talk to us, and discover the value we bring to the community,” Farhad said. “We don’t just want to be a place of worship, we want to be a place for community building with barbecues and garage sales and computer coding classes for the children. The root of the word ‘Islam,’ is peace, and we Muslims are not all how the mainstream media portrays us, so one bad apple really ruins the bunch.”
Farhad said that when the Islamic Center first began, there were only six members who met in a rented out space in a shopping center. SInce he moved to Santa Clarita in 2005, Farhad said the Muslim community in Santa Clarita has grown from about 100 families to over 300 and that the center caters to over 1,000 people.
The mosque offered refreshments, tours of the new facility and different presentations throughout the day from members of the Young Muslim Professional Network, which helps young Muslims develop public speaking, networking and professional skills that will help them find rewarding careers.
Aena Ahmad, one of the mosque’s young speakers, said that growing up in Santa Clarita, she was met with some negativity due to her religion.
“Open Mosque Day is important because it helps people see our side and it’s something we should have been doing for much longer,” said. “In Santa Clarita we do deal with racism and some people look down on Muslims, especially in high school and middle school. It’s frustrating because we don’t stand for terrorism and hate. We’re really friendly people and we stand for love.”
Nancy Taylor come to Open Mosque Day after seeing a post on Facebook and hearing about it from a friend who is a member of the Interfaith Council. Taylor said that she appreciated her time at the Islamic Center and did not feel judged for not sharing the Muslim faith.
“I do not know much about the Muslim faith and I think there is so much that can be learned, so I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity,” Taylor said. “It’s important to even just see the facility and understand the school they have here for the children. Sometimes we compartmentalize ourselves too much and we need more opportunities to be with others that are not like us.”