Spotlight: TWW Inland Empire — Love Thy Neighbor
In light of the recent executive order targeting Muslims, residents of Riverside, California, took to the streets to ensure our Muslim neighbors know that we stand in solidarity with them. Just around the corner from the University of California at Riverside is the Islamic Center of Riverside, which regularly attracts over 1000 worshipers. In a show of solidarity, over 80 people of various faiths stood outside the Islamic Center on a drizzly Friday with umbrellas and signs.
It turned out to be an amazing experience for everyone involved. With our presence we voiced our knowledge that we are stronger together and made a statement that diversity is what makes America great. Many worshippers who saw us initially thought we were there to protest against them, but once they realized we were there in support, the smiles appeared and the “thank yous” flowed. People driving by honked their horns and waved in support. Local residents and college students walking by expressed their appreciation for the crowd.
But the truly incredible part of the day was when so many of the Friday worshippers came out to greet us, offer their sincere thanks, shake our hands, and even hug each of us. Many in the crowd of supporters were wiping away tears. We were there to show that Muslims are welcome in the community, but their appreciation was more than most of us expected. True to the Islamic way, their hospitality was world class and they invited us to attend services, provided us with informational material, and even sent out food and water for the supporters. I sure would like to know the name of the delicacy I ate so I could order it in a restaurant!
With the growing lack of tolerance in our country and the disdain and violence targeted at our Muslim brethren, here at TWW USA we encourage you to organize a show of solidarity in your own community. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, there are almost 2000 Mosques, Islamic Centers and Muslim Schools in America. Find a local Islamic Center here or simply google for a mosque in your area.
It is best to contact someone at the Islamic Center before you plan your event to make sure you will be welcomed and won’t interfere with any activities they have scheduled. Here in Riverside, we timed our arrival 30 minutes before their services began so we could greet the Friday afternoon worshippers. Because we were there during a service, they did ask that we refrain from chanting or making any noise that would disrupt the service.
Islam requires modest dress, so we also recommend long pants or skirts and long sleeve shirts as a sign of respect. Here in Riverside, many worshippers invited us inside. So if you think you might enter the mosque, women are encouraged to bring scarves to wear over their heads. This type of endeavor not only lets your Muslim neighbors know you welcome them, but is also a wonderful cultural exchange.
Ty Starks Morgan is an attorney who has worked in the foster care system for 23 years. She is the mother of two teen sons, two dogs, three cats, and a plethora of rescued foster animals.