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How to Prepare for a 'Meet Your Muslim Neighbors' Event

Have you visited a mosque lately?

“Meet Your Muslim Neighbors,” “Ask A Muslim,” “Coffee, Cake, and Islam.” These are some of the welcoming names for these events you may have seen advertised recently, events at which local imams and other Muslims promise to tell visitors “the truth about our faith.”

These events are highly scripted -- and highly predictable. What they actually deliver: a well-practiced lecture that sanitizes Islam, confirming the rose-colored, politically correct concept of the religion that dominates the political Left.

The event ordinarily begins with a fulsome welcome. The Muslim hosts mention being thrilled that so many have come out to “meet your Muslim neighbors” because “so many of you, I know, want to learn more about our faith.” Most importantly, “you are probably confused by all the stories in the media, so we thought we’d try to set the record straight. For there can be no better way to learn about Islam than by meeting Muslims themselves to tell you what it’s all about.” Then a short lecture is given, with a Q and A afterwards. And -- an important part of the charm offensive -- generally some amazing Middle Eastern food is laid out to end the evening, leaving everyone sated and content.

The lecture generally begins with the declaration by the hosts that “Islam means peace,” and this is flatly false. Any Arabic speaker would know that Islam means “submission.”

But who would be impolite enough to take issue with a welcoming Muslim telling you that he believes Islam means peace? Probably, some guests may think there’s room for doubt in translation, but in any case, why would they cause a fuss already when they are all trying to get along?

Then it’s on to the Five Pillars of Islam, which are always given pride of place: the Shahada (profession of faith); Salat (the five canonical prayers); Zakat (the required charitable giving); Sawm (the fasting at Ramadan); and Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca that a believer should make, if he can afford it, at least once in his life).

The list is winningly exotic, great fun for the guests to take notes on -- oh, but there’s no need, they’ve been given a sheet that lists all five and their supposedly authoritative definitions -- and memorize. The Five Pillars may seem comforting, too, because they do sound familiar to Judeo-Christian guests: a profession of faith, prayers, fasting, charitable giving, pilgrimage.

Yet these presentations never inform the audience that the Five Pillars are not shared elements of the Abrahamic religions, but in fact radical departures.

For example: Salat, the five daily prayers, include the repeated recitation -- 17 times a day -- of a phrase condemning Jews and Christians from the Fatiha, the first sura of the Qur’an. The last two verses of the Fatiha ask Allah: