BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — Jocelyn Lampkin sat at a table across from a hijab-wearing woman, listening to a detailed explanation of henna, a dye used to create body art during times of celebration. The woman was in the process of painting an intricate flower on Lampkin’s hand.
This was certainly a reason to celebrate, as Lampkin was one of more than 80 non-Muslim community members to attend Saturday’s “Meet Your Muslim Neighbor” event at the Bentonville Islamic Center. Those who visited learned about Muslim culture and got a chance to build inter-community relationships between faiths.
“They are so open-minded, so friendly,” Lampkin said of the Islamic Center members. “I would encourage everyone to just also be open-minded.”
Middle-Eastern inspired food was provided for those in attendance, and people learned about Muslim beliefs, prayers and culture, including how to wear a hijab. There was also a table set up where people could get their first name written in Arabic on a small wooden plank to keep.
The purpose was to find common ground between faiths and people, said Rizwan Khan, the treasurer of the Bentonville Islamic Center.
“When you first walk in, you get to see the mosque itself—how it’s set up, what’re some of the basic beliefs we have and basic etiquettes [we] have,” Khan said.
Khan said the turnout either matched or exceeded what was expected.
“We all wanna be a good neighbor for our community and also [be] a good citizen,” Khan said. “We just want to show our respect for everyone more than anything else.”
The kindness of those hosting the event will stick with Lampkin long after the henna washes off.
“I think it’s very important to have a very inclusive community,” Lampkin said. “No matter what religion you are, you should still love people. So, I’m glad that we were able to come.”