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