Corona interfaith day of service also educates on Muslim traditions

In stark contrast with protests held outside some Muslim places of worship, a coalition of multiple faiths came together on a recent weekend at The Islamic Society of Corona-Norco to not only plant shrubbery, but also to plant knowledge.

“We are just so thankful to everyone who showed up,” said Shabana Haxton. “This is about us learning from one another.”

Haxton and about 200 volunteers spent most of their Saturday and Sunday tearing out weeds and adding flowers along the outer wall of the Corona temple.

She also spent the morning educating a young Christian girl about her hijab and why she wore it.

With two of her children by her side, Haxton had notonly worn her brown hijab, but also a floral print blouse that covered most of her skin – maintaining her faith’s tradition of not showing too much skin – and faded blue ‘mom jeans.’

“Have you ever seen Mary without a headscarf,” Haxton asked the girl warmly.

The young girl replied no. Haxton went on to explain that Mary and Jesus were in her religious scriptures as well and she was following them.

Haxton wants people to have a vision of her – someone who shares many of the same beliefs they do – when they think of Islam, not some caricature on a television screen.

The weekend event originated in 2010.

For his Eagle Scout project, Boy Scout Tyler Parker envisioned a day on which members of multiple faiths gathered to help their neighbors.

As it turns out, that day of service was held on Sept. 11 of that year.

“We didn’t mean for my son’s Scout project to fall on 9/11,” said Tyler’s mom Christy Parker, both lifelong Corona residents and members of the Church of Latter-day Saints. “It wasn’t until I went home and looked at the calendar that I realized the significance of doing the project on that specific date.”

Since then, the tradition has continued and morphed into the Sept. 11 peace project, which hopes to change the perception of 9/11 and turn it into a day of service among different religions.

The project is still going strong.

Nearly 200 people from all faiths spent a recent September weekend working shoulder to shoulder, planting trees, laughing and enjoying each others’ company.

“Corona is amazing in that they have kept it going,” said Christy Parker, “and that they want to keep doing this I gotta give them props for that. This is how it should be.”

Haxton said events like the interfaith gathering let the community see Muslims as neighbors and not terrorists.

She said earlier in the morning a man in a red pickup yelled at her to “go home.”

“What would I like to say to him,” said Haxton, “I would tell him to get out of his car and come have a plate of food with us. Then he would see we are just like him.”

For more information or to get involved, visit the Corona Norco Interfaith Association at


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This article was originally published in The Press Enterprise

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