Muslims from across Tennessee were at the Capitol Friday in an effort to spark more dialogue with state lawmakers.
The event included tours of the Capitol and a Muslim prayer service, all with the message that it's time for Muslims to get more involved — not just in national politics, but with lawmakers who shape Tennessee's future.
"With everything going on with the election and the rhetoric in the nation, we want our people to know that this is their house, and they should be comfortable coming here, talking to their legislators," says Zulfat Suara, one of the event's organizers. "That's the way it should be."
The prayer took place in War Memorial Auditorium, a music venue and part of the Capitol complex. A prominent Memphis cleric, Yasir Qadhi, led the service and delivered a sermon.
He gave a wide-ranging talk that ended with urging his Muslim listeners to appreciate the freedoms they have under the U.S. constitution.
It also featured tours of the legislative chambers and offices. Alhasan Hadidi came with a Memphis school group. It was the 11th grader's first time at the Capitol.
"I'm definitely more interested now than I was, and I am more likely to be engaged than I would've been if I hadn't done this tour," he says. "It's eye-opening."
State lawmakers were largely absent. Though the legislative session started this week, they typically travel home on Fridays.
But, organizers say, visiting the Capitol will at least give Muslims a sense that its doors are open to them as well.