Such as the fact that the hijab, far from being a sign of female subjugation, really “represents a step towards freedom.” “California State Fair: Muslim booth offers answers on Islam,” by Jennifer Garza, for the SacBee, August 18:
Cindy Cassidy is the first to admit she knows little about Islam. She has questions, but she’s never had the opportunity to ask Muslims about their faith.
For the first time since 9/11, visitors to the California State Fair can ask Muslims about Islam. No topic is off-limits, no subject too personal.
Even Rid’a al-Kibir?
Officially, it’s called “WhyIslam.” Unofficially, it could be called “Ask a Muslim.” The booth, which has been set up in Exhibit Hall B, is sponsored by the Sacramento Chapter of Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), which focuses on outreach and education of the faith. Muslim volunteers are on hand to answer questions, pass out brochures and give away Qurans.[…]
“Just out of curiosity — and I don’t mean any disrespect,” asked Cassidy, who lives in Cool, “but why do you (Muslim women) cover your heads?”
Salihah Bustamam, 25, smiled and answered that it is wrong to think that their religion subjugates women.
“It holds women in high regard,” said Bustamam.
According to the WhyIslam Web site, for Muslim women who veil themselves or practice hijab, it represents an act of obedience to God. It also represents a step toward freedom from being judged by their looks rather than their intellect.[…]
Dialogue between faiths and clearing up misperceptions are two of the goals of WhyIslam, say organizers.
“Problems start with the lack of communication and understanding,” said Arshad Khan of the Sacramento ICNA. “We want to show that we are part of this community “¦ and what better way to show that than coming to the State Fair, which gets people of all different backgrounds?”[…]
“You guys are getting a bad rap,” said Al Fink, a retired federal worker from Fremont, as he walked by. Fink later explained that he is Jewish and knows what it’s like when people stereotype.
“All they want to do is spread a little knowledge,” said Fink of the people working in the WhyIslam booth. “Ignorance is dangerous.”