MIDLAND PARK, N.J. — The Elzahra Islamic Center in Midland Park on Saturday will play host to Mawlid-An-Nabi, a multi-cultural event that aims to bring understanding to its religion at a time of increased fear and hatred.
Leaders and dozens of guests will gather for speeches, food and a chance to meet with various guest imams. They also will recite the Quran. Roughly 300 attendees are expected.
"We try to remind people to stand against violence and hatred," said Sheikh Moutaz Charaf. "We try to educate our people, humanity and friends that we are a people of the same God, and we honor our prophet Muhammed. Like every other faith and vision - we have many things in common."
Amid the current climate, Charaf said he and the mosque have received support from fellow religious centers.
“In my point of view, I’m really amazed and happy -- we received e-mails from organizations expressing their support," he said. "Some of them want to come visit, talk and organize programs together.”
Charaf said it was upsetting to hear statements from political candidates who he said demonstrate discrimination.
“We need to protect all people of society and we have to be careful - sometimes words can be more damaging than ignorance," he said. "Everyone is responsible for what he or she says. We try to promote that people should build bridges and not destroy them."
Charaf said he believes the interfaith program is just the right thing for the new year.
"We need to appreciate every human being, improve our country, and live in peace," he said. "We share a lot of the same values."
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