Muslims Host Event to Explain Their Faith Many Blame Attacks on Islam Religion

Article excerpt

Byline: Mary Maraghy, Times-Union staff writer

Jacksonville-area Muslims want to explain their religion to a questioning public.

The Islamic Center of Northeast Florida on the Southside is hosting an open house Saturday -- two months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and two weeks after a visiting evangelist preached that the Quran, the holy book of Islam, encourages Muslims to kill.

Muslim communities around the country are holding similar forums as a prelude to Ramadan, a month of the Islamic year that is considered sacred, with observers fasting from dawn to sunset. Ramadan begins Nov. 17.

"People are wanting to know: What is Islam? Who are Muslims?" said Shakur Bolden, president of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida. "We should have done this a long time ago, before Sept. 11."

Many Americans have blamed the Islam religion. Osama bin Laden, who is wanted in the attacks, has claimed that the attacks were part of Islam's holy war against the United States.

However, President Bush has been a leading voice in urging Americans to respect the rights of Muslims who had nothing to do with what happened.

During a 30-minute presentation, followed by 30 minutes for questions, leaders of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida will present the five pillars of Islam: faith, prayer, zakat (charity), fasting and pilgrimage; plus the six articles of faith: belief in one God, belief in angels, belief in revealed books including the Quran, Torah and the Bible, belief in prophets including Jesus Christ, belief in a judgment day and belief in divine destiny. …