“We want to make sure we connect with our neighbors to build bridges and work with this wonderful community so that we can build better societies,” Ahmed said. “When people don’t know each other, there is always a fear of the unknown. It can create hatred, discrimination and sometimes violence.
“We want to make sure that… we can work together to eradicate the evils from society and bring the goodness that God wants us to share with people. “
Throughout the afternoon, Ahmed answered visitors’ questions, sometimes citing chapters and verses from the Quran, the Muslim holy book, or drawing parallels with other religions and religious traditions.
Does the Quran ask Muslim adherents to use violence to convert non-believers? There are no passages like this, but there are others that say that everyone has the freedom to choose whether or not to follow God, he said.
Why do women have to wear a hijab? And why are they separated from the men in the mosque? Modesty, chastity, comfort and tradition, he explained.
Ahmed, 33, who grew up in Chicago and has lived in Richmond for over a decade, said she personally chooses to wear a hijab and wear modest clothing every day. She said it was her choice based on her religious beliefs, but that she does not impose it on her 11-year-old daughter.