The first thing you notice when you walk into the Logan Islamic Center is the quiet. Even footsteps are muffled, since shoes are left at the door. The upstairs prayer area is carpeted and empty, leaving room where worshippers can kneel and pray facing east. Downstairs is more relaxed. Bookshelves hold boxes of crayons and snacks for kids. A spirit of peace and reflection fills every corner of the mosque.
Recent convert Shane Guymon had quite a spiritual journey getting here.
“The notion of God being most merciful and most compassionate has really touched me and influenced my own perspective on Islam and why I’m a Muslim," he said.
He fell away from the Mormon faith when he was a teenager, exploring everything from atheism to Buddhism. Meeting his wife helped Guymon find his place in Islam.
“I was atheist, Buddhist, Daoist and now Muslim. It’s kind of a journey and it’s all thanks to my wife and getting married and converting to Islam," he continued.
Guymon shared the story of his conversion during an open discussion at the Logan Islamic Center. More than 60 people from the community attended the February event.
People young and old from the community and the university crowded into the building and sat on the floor, in chairs or stood in the doorways. For a little over an hour, the audience listened attentively to the speakers and asked questions about Islam, the hijab, and how Muslims pray to God.
Mubarak Ukashat recited a short prayer and a chapter of the Quran.
“That’s how we pray, that’s how the prophet taught us to pray. And he taught us about glorifying God. Concentrate. The prophet said when you stand to pray, it’s like God is in front of you, and you’re talking to Him. So you focus, you try to take away all kinds of distractions," he said.
Jennifer Courtwright is the president of the Cache Valley Unitarian Universalists.
“I thought it was great, very helpful," she said.
“It’s nice to know that other people have some of the same questions and misconceptions as I do and also are willing to come and learn about it," said Utah State University student Chelsey Gensel.
There has been a lot of talk about Islam in the news recently. But Sonia Murshed, a graduate student from Bangladesh, said event organizers didn’t plan the discussion in response to the national politics.
“According to me, this type of interfaith discussions is essential to know each other, to have who to the Muslims are. Because there are many misconceptions about Muslims I think everywhere," she said.
“The purpose is basically to give you an idea about what Islam is and how we practice it daily," said president of the Logan Islamic Center Andreas Febrian. “And this has nothing to do with the current social, political situation here we have in U.S. I personally don’t care about that. A lot of people have a concern, but you know, life will go on. God has a plan, so why worry?”
“We just like to have an open discussion to allow people into Masjid and to show who we are and what we believe in," Guymon said. "We're normal people."
"We are pretty glad people came and asking questions," Murshed said.
The Logan Islamic Center will host another open forum on March 20. This time they’ll focus their discussion on prayer.