MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, metro area churches and mosques are teaming up to give Minnesotans a chance to learn about different faiths.

The Muslim American Society of Minnesota reports more than half of American citizens report they don’t know anyone who is Muslim.

This month more Minnesotans are sitting down for a meal together and learning about their neighbors.

Reverend Cynthia Bronson-Sweigert of the Minnesota Council of Churches and Imam Asad Zaman hosted Ramadan dinner at the Muslim American Society of Minnesota’s Blaine Center on Tuesday night.

The dinner was one of several this month as part of the “Taking Heart” program Zaman helped start more than 10 years ago.

“The vast majority of people have a reservoir of goodwill, but they don’t know how to express it,” Imam Zaman said.

“The bedrock of this program is the hope that people who have never been in a mosque at all or know little to nothing about Islam will come,” Rev. Bronson-Sweigert said.

At the dinners, people of different faiths watch sunset prayer and learn some basics about Islam, while helping their Muslim neighbors break their daily fast during Ramadan after dark.

Attendees were encouraged to ask questions about Islam and many found there were notable similarities between many religions.

Rihab Shoshan of Woodbury said seeing her Christian neighbors express a desire to learn about Islam made her feel comfort as a Muslim Minnesotan.

“It feels like something positive in the middle of lots of negativities that are around,” Shosan said.

Letha Wilson-Barnard of Minneapolis said she was glad she took the time to visit her first mosque.

“The world that we live in right now, we need to understand each other better,” Wilson-Barnard said.

The Muslim American Society estimates there are nearly 150,000 Muslims in Minnesota, while people of the religion make up about one quarter of the world’s population.

Click here for more information about Taking Heart dinners.

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