"Most people who hold negative stereotypes about Islam and Muslims, they haven't actually ever met a Muslim, so we want to change that."
Sabah Al-Zafar, an Imam based in Hamilton, says the desire to break down barriers and negative stereotypes about the Islamic faith is behind the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community collective's visit to Taranaki this Sunday.
The group started an initiative, "Meet a Muslim" in 2017, with the aim to build bridges, remove misunderstandings and give people the opportunity to find out more about Islam in an open and free environment.
To do this, they set up a tent at markets around the country, encouraging people to come along and ask questions about Islam, Muslim life and anything else.
"There's no such thing as a controversial question, you can ask us anything. Nothing is off limits."
The group held another successful nationwide drive in mid-2021, where they visited every city in New Zealand in just 21 days, says Sabah.
"It is all part of an ongoing effort to educate the public on the true and peaceful teachings of Islam but also to build bridges and lasting friendships."
The group are back on the road again and will be in New Plymouth this Sunday at the Seaside Market at Ngamotu Beach.
"A special feature of our exhibition this time is the Kuranu Tapu, the te reo Māori translation of the Holy Quran.
"We hope that by being approachable and acceptable with this campaign it could give some the opportunity to ask questions and, hopefully, any misunderstandings could be removed."
As part of the campaign, the tent displays informative material about the teachings of Islam to try to educate non-Muslims about the true teachings of Islam around peace and unity.
"We want people to feel able to ask us questions, to find out the truth of our religion, and not to judge Islam by what you might see on television."
The group's visit to New Plymouth will be the culmination of a four-day tour, in which they have visited Turangi, Feilding and Whanganui before New Plymouth.