“We want to welcome and cultivate good relations with all people of faith in Anniston and Calhoun County. We want to share with them our feelings in the month of Ramadan, not only socially, but spiritually as well,” said Muhammad N. Haq, who came to Alabama as imam of the local mosque eight months ago.
Muslims fast during daylight hours for the month of Ramadan, which began on Aug. 1 this year. Fasting is a spiritual discipline in Islam, just as it is in Christianity and Judaism.
Next week’s open house will include a tour of the different parts and functions of a typical mosque, including the prayer hall (where no shoes are worn, for purification and cleanliness) and the room for ablution (the ritual washing that precedes all prayers).
“We will be praying our afternoon prayer at 5:45 p.m., and if our guests want to observe or even participate, they will be welcome,” said Haq. The imam will also explain the tenets of Islam and answer questions from visitors — “because everybody wonders what it is that Muslims do in a mosque,” he said with a laugh.
Haq is from Houston, Texas. He has a master’s degree in world religions, and his main interest is in interfaith relationships. He is a member of Interfaith Ministries of Calhoun County, and is working with the pastor of First Christian Church of Anniston on community outreach. He has given a presentation to a Sunday school class at St. Mark United Methodist Church, and recently attended a speech by Holocaust survivor Irving Roth at Temple Beth-El.
The Anniston Islamic Center is also planning to open a free medical clinic for the neighborhood.
The mosque was first established in Anniston in 1977, and was initially on 15th Street. After several moves, it is now on McCall Drive, in the old Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School building.
There are an estimated 200 to 300 Muslims living in our area.
Anniston a Center Open House
Thursday: 5-7 p.m. at the Anniston Islamic Center, 1821 McCall Drive.