At the annual Leadership Triangle Awards Gala last December, CBC President & CEO Jim Goodmon issued a challenge. He encouraged the audience members to attend a local mosque or make a connection with a Muslim, to help unite the Triangle community and help bring an end to hate and fear. That challenge inspired an idea, so Leadership Triangle coordinated a special event, an Understanding Islam Forum.
The event took place at the Islamic Center of Raleigh on Thursday, February 18, 2016. Fiaz Fareed, Outreach Coordinator for the Center, took Leadership Triangle alumni and community guests on a tour of the Center, talked to them about Islam and invited them to observe the evening prayer service.
Several CBC’ers attended the Understanding Islam Forum. FOX 50 Director of Local and New Media Sales Niel Sollod helped coordinate the event.
“American Tobacco Vice President of Real Estate Michael Goodmon and the board of Leadership Triangle wanted to act on Mr. Goodmon’s challenge from the Leadership Triangle Gala and provide an opportunity to learn together in the context of an Alumni Network event,” said Sollod. “Around the same time, WRAL-TV Anchor David Crabtree interviewed Imam Abu Taleb from the Islamic Center of Raleigh on the WRAL special ‘Faith, Fear and Freedom.’ I called Imam Abu Taleb and he was very interested in hosting our Alumni members for an informational visit. He directed me to Fiaz Fareed, the Center’s Outreach Director to coordinate the event. We planned the agenda to include a tour of the school, some delicious food prepared in their kitchen and a presentation about Islam.”
Sollod is a LT board member previously served as the LT Alumni Association Chair.
“On the night of the event, Fiaz made everyone feel so welcome – his warmth and sense of humor shined through as 45 LT alumni experienced first-hand the many contributions and of our Muslim neighbors,” said Sollod. “He urged that we make our alumni comfortable to ask the most candid questions. He shared a close culture of principled learning and self-discipline at the school where students learn to recite the Quran by memory and focus on servitude to God. I had never been to a Mosque before or observed Muslim prayer. More often than not, we are exposed to people’s interpretations of the differences between religions. I learned that on many levels, from sharing the same Patriarchs, to the foundation of family and tradition, we have much in common.”
Other CBC’ers joined Sollod at the event as well. Jim Goodmon and his wife, Barbara, along with Corp Director of Content Andrea Osborne attended.
“It was an amazing evening,” said Osborne. “Here I was, a Quaker, side by side with co-workers who are Jewish and Catholic, watching the evening prayer of Muslims. We have so much in common. I’m thankful I live in a diverse community. I believe it makes me a better person. The Understanding Islam Forum made a big impact on me. I’m thankful for Leadership Triangle and CBC for providing that opportunity.”
Two other CBC’ers helped bring the event to the community at large. WRAL-TV Anchor/Reporter Ken Smith and WRAL-TV News Photographer Andrew Cumbee covered the forum, both streaming the event on WRAL.com and putting together a story for WRAL News.
“Having spent time in Muslim countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, I learned a lot during that forum, including how to say the spiritual greeting correctly, As-Salaam-Alaikum,” said Smith. “What also struck me was the basic similarities between Islam and Judaism and Christianity. I interviewed one lady who said, ‘I’m not afraid anymore.’ That for me, re-enforced why it’s so important to take the time to learn about other cultures and customs.”
The Islamic Center of Raleigh will hold an open house for the community on March 5th for the public to learn more about Islam.
Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Andrew Cumbee for these capcom photos.