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July 6, 2014

Bridging the gap

NORMAN — Shoes were set neatly aside on wooden shelves Saturday as members of the Norman community entered Masjid An-Nur, a mosque, for an open house hosted by the Islamic Society of Norman.

The open house’s theme, “Building the Bridges of Understanding”, was geared toward teaching the basic elements of Islam. There was also question and answer session, as well as informational booths to help educate those who attended.

“Islam is not something foreign. It is part of America as well. I’m an American citizen,” said Nouman Jan, Vice President of the ISN. “I’m just like any other religious person living in America.”

Jan said he feels like the Islam community is often misrepresented in mainstream media, especially after events that unfolded on Sept. 11, so the event was designed to help bridge the gap, help clear confusion and just open themselves up to the community.

It was also an ideal time to hold the event as they observe Ramadan, he said. Ramadan is the month in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.

“It’s literally a spiritual journey and you try to attain piety in this month by stopping yourself from eating. It’s not just, you fast for no good reason; there is a motive behind it and that is to attain spirituality,” he said.

Fasting isn’t something just Muslims do either; it is also important to religions like Christianity and Judaism, he said. Focusing on a commonality, rather than pointing out the differences in different religions, is another way to bridge some of those gaps.

“The similarity (between these religions) is so much,” he said. “Unfortunately people will always, always try to bring in the differences to make more divisions for their political gains or their social gains or whatever.”

“And it happens on both sides.”

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