Windsor mosques open doors to allow a closer look at Islam
'If I understand them better, we'll all get along better'
Mosques in Windsor opened their doors to everyone Saturday and Sunday, to show people exactly what happens inside the buildings and to allow a closer look at Islam.
"I am a Christian, so it is different and I think there's a lot of misconceptions," said Jim Morrison, who was one of approximately 170 people who checked out the Windsor Mosque at Northwood Street and Dominion Boulevard over the two-day span.
"I wanted to see what goes on here, and what the young people are experiencing here and, really, if I understand them better, we'll all get along better," he said.
Morrison is a neighbour in the area. He sees many people come and go from the mosque. He expected to see a lot of elders and men when he entered the mosque Sunday.
Instead, he was surprised to see it was women who greeted him and gave him and a small group of people a tour.
"They were very knowledgeable, very personable, I was very impressed with them," he said.
Morrison and others who took a tour were introduced to a special Qur'an, which uses an electronic pen to help read Arabic, saw the morgue, saw the prayer hall, and heard personal testimonies.
"I heard a couple speakers that had converted from Christianity and that did really surprise me," said Morrison. "I wasn't aware that did happen and it was very interesting to hear their stories."
"I didn't realize there was so much association between what I've learned about Christianity," he said "I could see the respect that they have for those same characters that I grew up knowing about in the Bible. There's a lot more similarity than I thought there was."
'She just wanted to see the differences'
Women who visited could also try wearing a hijab.
That was when the tour became very exciting and personal for Jenna Warwick. Her best friend is Muslim and was also leading the tour.
"I see her wearing them every day to at school," she said. "Just to see how I would like with a hijab, and just the different styles that you could wear them."
Warwick and Tartil Shaheen are in Grade 11 at Tecumseh Vista Academy.
Tartil said she has waited a long time for her friend to enter the mosque.
"It was pretty big because she's never actually been to a mosque before, I know she's Catholic, so I know she's been to churches," she said. "We have many similarities and she just wanted to see the differences."
Shaheen said she's the only person in her school who wears a hijab and she has felt alone in trying to explain what it's like to her peers. But school will be a bit different for both Warwick and Shaheen on Monday.
"I think that when she now looks at me, she'll have in the back of her head, 'oh, this is where she comes from, this is her community, this is her life,'' said Shaheen. "She'll have a different perspective of me and I hope she can carry it on and tell my other friends about it."
Meanwhile, across town, one of the smallest mosques in Windsor, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at, also welcomed the public Sunday afternoon.
"We want to give the message of peace and tolerance. Our motto is 'love for all, hatred for none' and we want to make sure that message gets out to the community." said Arfan Ahmad.