In 80 cities around California and across the continental United States tomorrow, Muslims will be performing an outreach effort to bridge the divide between what people think they know about Islam and what practicing the faith actually means. It's all part of National Meet a Muslim Day.
Organized by Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA), the group hopes to break everyday misconceptions about the religion as well as the many Islamophobic ideas engendered by hate groups across social media. AMYA is one of the oldest Muslim youth organizations in America, founded in 1939.
In Northern California, you can find people holding sings that read "I'm a Muslim. Ask me anything," or "Meet a Muslim" at the following locations:
- 170 S Market St. in San Jose from 11am–2pm
- Pleasanton Farmers Market at 77 W Angela St. in Pleasanton from 11am–2pm
- 301 Castro St in Mountain View from 11am–2pm
- Sather Raod in Berkeley from 11am–2pm
- 1201 W 10th St. in Antioch from 11am–2pm
- 71 E Via la Plata in Fresno from 11am– 3pm
The group held their first Meet a Muslim Day earlier this year in March and considered it such a success, they realized they needed to do it again. The first time out they had nearly 23,000 first-person conversations and reached at least four million people via social media.
Waqas Hussain, the 30-year-old spokesperson for the event, said, "We've learned from polling that most Americans claim to not know any Muslims personally. We've found that simply by engaging in dialogue, people come away with a much more positive understanding of Islam."
He explained that most people wanted to talk about our views on Trump's travel ban, shariah law, the status of women in Islam, and the concept of jihad (which refers to a person's "inner struggle").
Hussain continued, "Most conversations were very productive. And the few that started out as confrontational or argumentative ended on a positive note as we simply continued to engage those persons in a constructive dialogue."
If you're planning on heading out to meet a Muslim, capture the moment on the social media platform of your choice using the hashtag #MeetaMuslim. // Saturday, September 9, 2017; 80 cities across the US; meetamuslim.us