PEORIA - Tensions in the Middle East are sky high and Islamic fundamentalist groups are once again at the center of the controversy.
The conflicts are raising questions about the religion.
One group spent the weekend in Peoria answering some of those questions.
Shekh Fadi Almuzayyan is used to explaining the broad topic of Islam.
It’s part of his job at the Furqann bookstore, which hosted a stand at the Islamic Circle of North America Midwest- or ICNA- convention in Peoria.
“For a non Muslim, they ask, we ask them. Do you know about Islam? The media, especially the media they are sometimes show the right things, sometimes not.”
And Islam has been under plenty of media fire over the past couple weeks. Between the violence in Israel, partially perpetuated by the Palestinian Islamic group, Hamas, and the recent conflict in Iraq, which was ignited by the Islamic fundamentalist group, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) some people are once again questioning the legitimacy of the religion.
“They don't represent us in any way and we don't support them in any way. And we, even a fast majority of us consider that new Islamic state illegitimate,” said ICNA representative Rameez Abid.
Abid speaks at Islamic conventions across the country. He says he’s used to people’s skepticism about his beliefs and encourages questions.
“You can not understand people or anyone else unless you engage with them in some way.”
Engagement was part of the theme at the Islamic Convention in Peoria, as leaders of the ICMA fielded questions from Peoria residents.
“The goal is to give our fellow Americans the opportunity to educate themselves about the authentic teachings of Islam,” said Dr. Sabeel Ahmed of the ICMA.
And even though they condemned the violence in Israel, conference leaders explained that groups like Hamas are standing up for oppressed Muslims.
“We want to work together with every one. It doesn't matter in Palestine or Iraq or America. To bring justice and the outcome of justice is nothing less than peace.”
This was the first ICNA Conference in Peoria. Organizers say they hope to be back next year.
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