CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Saturday night, Charlottesville’s only mosque opened its doors to the community for the first time to show what the Islamic faith is all about.

The common refrain was that Islam is a religion of peace. The mosque welcomed anyone who had doubts or questions about Islam’s intentions to learn about the religion firsthand and make up their own minds.

For the first time since the mosque opened in 2012, Muslims who worship there welcomed the public to an "open house.”

With all of what's happening around us, especially this year, it's important to share our beliefs and to introduce Islam to the community at large,” said Saher Sabri, who attends the mosque.
Visitors took a tour of the building, learned how Muslims pray, and experienced traditional foods.

There have been a lot of anti-Islamic comments being made in the media and we really wanted to really show that we appreciated the love and support that we got from the Charlottesville community,” said Saad Hussain.

Mosque leaders explained that women and men are separated not because the genders are unequal, but to respect the women when they lay down to pray.  For that same reason, only men may be filmed praying.

Being the only mosque in Charlottesville, most members just wanted to share their faith with others.

“My faith, is... I want to be really good in my life and Islam is the word for peace, Islam the word, means peace,” said 11-year-old Karam Noori.

The mosque also houses a school and community center. There is even a boy scouts troop that meets at the mosque each week.

Mosque leaders say they were overwhelmed and thankful for the over 300 people who came out Saturday.