STERLING, Va. — The horrific mass shooting in New Zealand sent chills through local Muslim communities. Law enforcement provided extra patrols around area mosques and elected officials promised protection and solidarity.
At the ADAMS Center Mosque, hundreds packed three separate services for Friday prayers. Weighing heavy on their hearts, the brothers and sisters, and. Children gunned down in two New Zealand mosques.
"God tells us in the Koran that we must respond to bad with good," Rizwan Jaka, ADAMS Center Interfaith Committee chair, said.
Imam Majid began his sermon with prayers for those lost in the violence and a message to stand firm against hate with peace, hope and love.
"Hate and bigotry is against all religions. The teachings of all the religions. The principle of all religions," he said. He pointed to lessons in both the Koran and the bible about the sanctity of life. "Whoever takes one life, just one life, is as if he had taken the life of all humanity."
THE ADAMS Center says their 10 branches and satellites around Northern Virginia makes them the largest mosque in the state of Virginia and the second largest on the country. With that kind of reach, ADAMS is trying to lead by example in connecting with all different communities to increase understanding.
"These things do happen, unfortunately. And we have to work harder at getting people to know who we are as a community, said Hurunnessa Fariad, ADAMS Outreach leader.
"One third of the slaves that came here were Muslim. We're not new. So we built part of this country," Fariad said. "[We] would do anything to protect this county and that's what people need to hear."
Visitors included Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring who gave assurances of protection, and Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton who reflected on the message.
"It was a reminder that all the world's faiths preach peace, and love and acceptance and understanding and that's certainly what I hear when I come to ADAMS." said Rep. Jennifer Wexton, (D) Va. -10th district.
The Dar Al Hijra mosque in Falls Church is holding a vigil for the New Zealand victims tomorrow even at 6:30.