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Masjid hosts luncheon for non-Muslims

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Masjid Hamza, in Valley Stream, along with hundreds of mosques across the country, opened its doors to the community on Sunday in an effort to break social barriers and have an honest discussion about Islam.

The event was sponsored by the Islamic Circle of North America and its outreach subsidiaries — GainPeace and Why Islam — and featured a tour of the mosque, an Islam question-and-answer period moderated by GainPeace Director Dr. Sabeel Ahmed, and a free lunch.

Clergy from neighboring religious congregations in Malverne, West Hempstead, Woodmere and elsewhere attended the open house.

Ahmed, who previously served as president of ICNA Chicago, said that this weekend’s event was the first of its kind, for which mosques nationwide are coordinating with outreach groups to meet with neighbors.

“The reason I give an opportunity for people to ask these tough questions is because the fear of the unknown leads people to have hate and bias and discrimination against people of other cultures and other religions,” he told the Herald last week. “And unfortunately, the fear of the unknown leads toward violence.”

GainPeace has a toll-free hotline, (800) 662-ISLAM, which anyone can call to ask questions about Islam from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.