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.

NYC subways may see Ramadan ads

The always colorful U.S. Rep. Peter King from The Island isn’t too happy about the MTA’s plans to put ads in the subways this Ramadan from a national Muslim group.

The group, the Islamic Circle of North America, wants to run “educational” ads during Ramadan, the Islamic holy month that starts Sept. 1.

But King is antsy because Siraj Wahhaj, the imam of a Brooklyn mosque and a supporter of the ad campaign, was a character witness for Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind cleric who was convicted for overseeing the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

010508_king_web.jpg“He is a known Islamic extremist, and you would be giving him credibility and stature through a known government facility,” King tells CNN.

Wahhaj says he spoke for Abdel-Rahman in the context of “what we knew about him before the incident.”

NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg has offered some support for the ad campaign, drawing applause from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

King noted that the ads would be up on the anniversary of 9/11.

The Islamic Circle of North America says this about it ad campaign:

Due to the presence of much negativity and Islamophobia, the general public has the daunting task of sifting through uninformed and biased sources before they can find reliable outlets. We are providing an opportunity to anyone who has questions to have them answered by informed Muslims.