Question about Islam? Call a Muslim

Billboards in two dozen American cities are advertising a phone number — 1-877-WHY-ISLAM — where you can reach actual Muslims to ask questions about Islam.

It’s part of a campaign by the Islamic Circle of North America to educate non-Muslims about the faith, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Volunteers in New Jersey field about 1,000 calls a month.

Questions can also be emailed to www.whyislam.org.

“The idea was to help answer the questions that people have about Islam,” said ICNA board member Hanif Harris, a 38-year-old Realtor. “This way, they’ll get the answers directly from Muslims.”

I haven’t seen a billboard myself. But I may have to find one. It seems to be a pretty neat idea.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.