For the past five years, Dr. Faheem Younus has been reaching out to churches and colleges in the Baltimore metro area to talk about the Muslim community. His goal is to provide a better understanding of that community and of Islam.
On Tuesday, April 21 at 7 p.m., Younus will talk at Hunt's Memorial United Methodist Church, 1912 Old Court Road, Towson, open to the public free.
Younus says he began giving talks because of the vitriol directed against Muslims, and the fear this raises the Muslim community.
"It's important to spread the word that Islam is a religion of peace. The core teaching of Islam is to love the creator and love his creations. The Prophet Mohammed called for fairness for all religions," said Younus, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Maryland Medical School. The Perry Hall resident, married and a father, has a private practice as well.
"ISIS and extremists don't represent the Muslim community but they get a lot of attention," he continued.
There are some 2.6 million American Muslims, or one percent of the United States population, according to the latest data. Younus is a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, which has 70 chapters nationwide in every state in the country.
"I am not speaking on my own behalf. These are not my personal views. They represent the Muslim community," he said.
JoAnn Burke, a longtime member of Hunt's Memorial Church, arranged the upcoming talk. Burke, a retired Baltimore County school teacher and Towson resident, first heard Younus at a program about Islam at Notre Dame University of Maryland.
"I found the topic so interesting and he so approachable that I thought it would be good to bring him to the church," said Burke, who invited Younus to give a presentation on the same topic in 2012.
It turned out others felt the same way. The 2012 presentation, a series of three lectures, wasn't advertised. But like the upcoming talk, it was held at the church and was open to the public free. Burke estimates that between 60 to 100 people attended each session, and about half were not church members.
The Rev. Gary Sheffield-James remembers the 2012 lectures, well attended by church members and the community at large. "I thought it would be a good idea to have him come back," he said.
"The issue is in the forefront of world concerns and there's been an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment," Sheffield-James continued. "I hope his talk opens a much-needed conversation."