Mosques across Canada invited curious citizens in on Saturday to ask questions and discover more about the Muslim faith with the hopes of clearing up misconceptions and encouraging community understanding, HuffPost Canada reported.
Organized by non-partisan group The Canadian-Muslim Vote, this is the second annual event called Visit My Mosque Day.
Mosques in cities in New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta participated, with some offering tours and talks, as well as just simply answering questions.
Take Action: Step Up to Support Migrants and Refugees!
"Just being available to talk is key," Shafiq Ebrahim, vice-president of Jaffari Islamic Centre in Thornhill, Ontario, told HuffPost Canada. "I'm always surprised by how many great questions people ask, and we are committed to giving proper answers."
Islamophobia is a problem in Canada and around the world. In fact, a survey conducted by Angus Reid last year revealed that 46% of Canadians said they had an "unfavourable" opinion of Islam. Opening conversations around different religions and cultures can work to reduce hatred and prejudice in today's world.
Questions at Ebrahim’s centre ranged from specifics around the congregation's history to theoretical ones, and more.
Joel Harden, a Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for the New Democratic Party (NDP) for Ottawa Centre, took his 10-year-old daughter to the event at the Ottawa Mosque.
"She asked, 'Why do the women pray separately? Do I have to wear a head covering?'" Harden told HuffPost Canada.
These honest and open questions led the adults in the room to ask more questions too, HuffPost Canada reported.
And that’s the point of this event — to disregard presumptions and learn from fellow human beings.
Unfortunately, there were mass violence threats made against two mosques ahead of Visit My Mosque Day. These mosques, in Sherbrooke and Scarborough, still held their events, but two mosques in Montreal cancelled theirs after they received incessant racist messages, according to HuffPost Canada.
Still, the event did successfully open dialogue between many across the country, in a time when the world seems quite divided.
"It's important for opportunities like these to be created, but Muslim members of your community shouldn't have to always ask to be included," Jeff Leiper, a city councillor for Ottawa's Kitchissippi Ward who participated in a mosque tour, told HuffPost Canada. "For the relationship to be genuine, you have to work at it all the time, even when there's nothing going on."