TYLER - Around the month of June, Muslims partake in Ramadan. Since 2003, the East Texas Islamic society would use a moment of their time to invite their neighbors for an educational experience. More than 100 people were expected to show up to its open house event. It's this time of the year Anwar Khalifa looks forward to. He said it's an effort to 'be a part of the community, not apart.'
"I hope they [visitors] get their questions answered and they walk away with a positive experience," Khalifa said.
While Ramadan is time of fasting and prayer, to Khalifa, it's a moment to showcase what Islam and being a Muslim means to him. He said it is his chance to combat bigotry. Khalifa said he believes education is one of the best ways to fight ignorance.
One of the topics during open house was: what the Muslim faith is. Guest speakers explained how their religion is not what it seems to be, compared to what would be seen on television. Visitors could ask questions about the religion and it's culture. To members like Nabil Ahmed, who's been part of the ETX Islamic society for more than 20 years, it is an opportunity to represent Islam. He said his religion is of peace and brotherhood.
Ahmed described the experience of an open house to be important.
"It's a learning experience for me," Ahmed said. "Getting to know the non-Muslims and hear their views and what they think about Islam."
While food and a chance to start a conversation can bring people together. Khalifa said he hopes the open house will show others he's a person too.
"It means a lot to me because I live here, I work here, my kids were born here," Khalifa said.
Ramadan will last until June 24, 2017. Khlaifa said the mosque is always open to the public if they have any questions.