SHAFAQNA – The Islamic Center of Nashville will host its third annual Diversity Brunch on April 1, in which Nashvillians can taste food made by Muslims whose ethnicities represent more than 40 countries around the globe.
The event is a concerted effort to showcase diversity, build bonds in the community and humanize Muslims.
“A lot of times we are painted with the same paintbrush, so I feel it’s important to have an opportunity to highlight the diversity that exists within our community, celebrate it and invite others,” ICN President Rashed Fakhruddin said. “We are your neighbors. We’re here with the same interest to make the community a lot better.”
The free food will be prepared by people with roots in such places as Bosnia, Niger, Mexico, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Jordan, Kurdistan and, of course, the United States.
Fakhruddin said scriptures in the Quran advocate for inclusiveness and diversity.
“God says that’s an education opportunity — to learn about someone outside of your comfort zone,” he said.
According to the Pew Research Center, 1.8 billion Muslims across the globe speak at least 80 different languages and have different ways of practicing and beliefs about Islam.
American Muslims represent the only faith community without a majority race. They are black, white, Asian and Hispanic, according to a Gallup poll. African-Americans, not Arabs, make up the largest ethnic group.
Renata Soto, director of Conexion Americas, will be honored at the event with the yearly Beyond Borders Award for her work toward a more inclusive Nashville.
Last year’s award went to Bernard Werthan, a board member at the Faith and Culture Center and Our Muslim Neighbor Nashville.
Last year about 1,000 people came to the event, including Mayor Megan Barry.
“You never know who you’re going to meet over food,” Fakhruddin said.
ICN is working with Waverly-Belmont Elementary School to help provide parking for the event, as much of the ICN parking lot will be filled with food booths. In past years, a shuttle bus brought guests to the ICN and back.
Although the event is free, those who attend are encouraged to make a donation, which will be split among several neighborhood organizations, including the 12 South Neighborhood Association, Organized Neighbors of Edgehill, the YWCA, You Have the Power and the PENCIL Foundation, a nonprofit that supports Nashville students.
The event will begin at 11 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m.