FREMONT – Residents of Milpitas, California, were offered a chance to get closer to Islam and Muslims, after the public library hosted a “Meet a Muslim” event earlier this month.
“Throughout history other faiths have done things, history is full of bloodshed and war, it’s not new, but it only portrayed as Muslims doing things, so they think we are violent,” Fremont resident and community activist Moina Shaiq, who led the discussion, told The Mercury News.
“They don’t know in Burma they are killing Muslims, they don’t hear or see the other atrocities that are happening in the world,” she added.
During the discussion, people touched on topic of women wearing hijab or full-face niqab as well as differences between Sunnis and Shiites (the two main sects of Islam).
Others tackled the rights of women in Islam, what it’s like to be an American Muslim today and the things happening in the Near East that make news headlines.
Shaiq said Muslims believe in the same kinds of things as Jews and Christians believe in, such as belief in prophets, the Prophets Moses, Jesus, David, Abraham and Adam, among others.
Shaiq told the almost 30 attendees that she had moved to the United States from Pakistan 38 years ago, and had been living in Fremont for 34 years, where she and her husband raised their four children.
She said similar to other mothers she had been a soccer mom, Girl Scout mom, Boy Scout mom, and was an extremely proud Eagle Scout mom who liked to shop at her favorite store, Costco.
“We shop at the same places you all do, we do the same things everybody else does, we want to raise our families and live in peace,” Shaiq said at the event. We are all made from the same formula by God.
“But Sept. 11 changed my life, I was very scared and I could not believe something like that could happen on our soil, and I didn’t want to leave my house,” Shaiq recalled on Jan. 4.
“I started wearing this headscarf, hijab, only two months before Sept. 11 so I was very scared but eventually I had to leave the home. But then I decided after Sept. 11 I needed to educate my fellow Americans because for the most part they don’t know Muslims.”
Shaiq conducted her first “Meet a Muslim” event in January 2016 in Fremont as then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was calling for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
“I am just here to dispel misconceptions generally about what Muslim are in this country and what kind of life they lead, and for the most part answer questions about current events,” she said.
“I try to give them perspective on all the things that they hear in the news.”