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USA: Rochester-area Muslims observe Ramadan

They gather nightly at the mosque for special prayer and on Saturday and Sunday evenings to break the fast together, often joined by guests from outside their community.

Mubarak Bashir with his wife, Antoinette Bashir, and children,
Eshan, 19 months, and Jocelyn, 8, in the background, in the
prayer room at the Baitun Naseer Mosque in Rochester.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: Democrats & Chronicle
By  Steve Orr | July 28, 2012

As people ferried containers of fragrant food in through the back door of the Baitun Naseer Mosque, Dr. Naseer Tahir was asked if it was difficult or uplifting to fast between dawn and sunset, as Muslims do during the holy month of Ramadan.

“Both,” he said with a smile. “Difficult but doable — and uplifting, of course.”

Ramadan, which began July 21, and continues through Aug. 18, is a time of reflection and special prayer when Muslims are expected to give extra emphasis to charity, kindliness and restraint.

Healthy adults must abstain from food and drink until sundown as a way to focus their thoughts.

“It’s a spiritual exercise for spiritual development. It’s not a new thing. Fasting has been practiced for moral development since time immemorial,” said Tahir, a physician with an office in Brighton.

Tahir is president of the Rochester chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a worldwide reformist movement founded in 1889. The movement, which has millions of members in 200 countries, casts itself as peace-loving, in favor of universal human rights and respectful of the separation of church and state.

Members are welcomed in many places, Tahir said, but they do sometimes clash with other Muslims who don’t accept the Ahmadis’ beliefs — particularly that the founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was the Messiah.

Ahmadiyya practice is barred in Pakistan, where members by law are considered non-Muslims.

Ahmadis have been in Rochester for decades, and the local chapter was created nearly 30 years ago.

Today, about 25 families comprising 90 people worship at the mosque on East Main Street in Rochester.

These days, their spiritual focus is on Ramadan. They gather nightly at the mosque for special prayer and on Saturday and Sunday evenings to break the fast together, often joined by guests from outside their community.

Fast is broken first with dates and water, the traditional choice.

On Saturday evening, that was to be followed by bread, rice, chicken with curry and dessert. Food is brought into the mosque kitchen for reheating by a given family each weekend night.

This breaking of the fast begins precisely at sundown, which Tahir determined with a check of his smartphone was 8:35 p.m. Saturday.

There is no dilly-dallying.

“God tells us, ‘Don’t eat,’ and we don’t eat,” he said. “God says ‘Eat now,’ and we eat.”

  — SORR@DemocratandChronicle.com
  — Twitter: http://twitter.com/SOrr1

Read original post here: Rochester-area Muslims observe Ramadan

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