Local Muslims on Saturday will open the doors of their mosque for an event designed to share information and dispel myths.
Islamic Foundation North, which has been operating at 1751 S. O'Plaine Road in Libertyville since 2004, hosts an open house from 3 to 5 p.m. as one of its programs designed to connect with the community.
About 3,500 postcards have been sent to residents within several miles of the location to generate interest in the second annual event. About 50 neighbors attended last year, according to Dr. Amin Nadeem, chairman of the foundation's civic engagement committee.
"People have questions. We see that as a good opportunity for neighbors to come and find out what we're about," Nadeem said.
"Keep in mind, we are a minority in this country. Most people don't know much about the Muslim faith."
On a regional level, Open Mosque Day on Oct. 16 will include several participating institutions in Chicago and suburbs, according to Walid Muhammad Sankari, programs coordinator for the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. It will be the second year for the outreach initiative, he added.
Open Mosque, like Saturday's event in Libertyville, is an opportunity for individuals and congregations to interact with the mosques in their communities.
"Mostly this entails touring the mosque itself, observing Muslims at worship, breaking bread with members of the congregation, and ask questions about Islam," Sankari said.
"We encourage people to come and build relationships. Most people have more questions than answers," he added.
At Islamic Foundation North, discussion of what Muslims believe and practice, the definition of jihad, myths about Sharia law and women in Islam will be discussed in a short program. Visitors can tour the mosque, observe prayers and engage in a question-and-answer session. Literature, books and ethnic food will be provided.
Nadeem said events related to extremists, such as the recent bombings in the New York area, are troubling to most Muslims.
"We also are in conflict with them with the rest of Americans," he said.
"We're lucky to be part of this great country," Nadeem added. "You won't find anyone in the foundation who thinks otherwise."
Islamic Foundation North has not experienced any pushback and does not plan on any special security measures for the open house, he said.
Nadeem said the foundation, which is comprised of about 2,500 Muslims, long has had various outreach programs with other faiths and organizations and the open house is not a reaction to any world event.
"This foundation has a large population of really educated people," he said. "Maybe it will help change opinion or steer the dialogue."