Being a Muslim in America isn’t always easy. Often associated with small, extremist factions, people forget that Islam is one of the most widely observed religions in the world, second only to Christianity. The overwhelming majority of its followers in this country are peaceful people sharing the same hopes and dreams as everyone else.
Coffee, Cake and True Islam is an event coming to the Moorestown Library Sept. 21 with a goal of creating an environment where people can meet local Muslims, freely ask questions and express their personal understanding of Islam.
From 2 to 3 p.m., anyone who has unanswered questions about the often misunderstood religion can come to the library and open a dialogue with followers in a safe, welcoming space.
The event’s host, Nadia Malick, is a Muslim and former Moorestown resident interested in changing perceptions about her religion and its followers.
“I believe because of the barbaric acts that happened on 9/11 it tarnished the name of our religion, so we’re just out there to educate people about what our religion truly is and what the true faith of Islam is,” said Malick.
As its title suggests, coffee and cake will be provided at the hour-long event to help facilitate discussions.
Malick belongs to the Al-Nasr Mosque in Willingboro and is a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Ladies Auxilary. She says events like this have been held all over the country for years. Just this summer she hosted similar gatherings at the Mt. Laurel and Cinnaminson libraries.
“There are a lot of misconceptions and hate now associated with the word ‘Islam,’ and we’re just there to educate and answer questions,” said Malick.
As a Muslim, Malick is no stranger to judgments and preconceived notions about her and her religion. She can recall the first year she and her son, 2 years old at the time, walked in the Moorestown Fourth of July parade, and feeling the stares and standoffish manner people gave off as they passed.
Fortunately, more recently she has noticed slowly shifting attitudes and more acceptance among strangers.
“Now, I just walked this past July and there was so much warmth,” said Malick.
Getting out into the community, being visible and building relationships, Malick says, has helped bring about that kind of acceptance for herself and other Muslims like her.
“Until we open our doors and allow people to come see who we truly are, that relationship isn’t going to be there,” said Malick.
At these open forum-type events, Malick hopes people leave with more knowledge about what unifies all religions rather than what makes them different.
“At the end of the day, when we answer all of those questions, people come to learn how many commonalities we actually have,” said Malick.
Anyone interested in attending Coffee, Cake and True Islam and meeting Malick can register for the event online at moorestownlibrary.org.