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American Muslim Community Centers Director Dr. Shakil Ahmed Says Ramadan in Central Florida Will Be Different This Year

Photo: Jeremy Yap
Photo: Jeremy Yap

Today marks the beginning of the holy season of Ramadan for billions of Muslims around the world. 

Congregants at the American Muslim Community Centers in Longwood would usually mark the month with shared prayer, fasting and charity.

90.7 WMFE spoke with AMCC Director Dr. Shakil Ahmed about how this year will be different because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are excerpts from our conversation. 

On how Ramadan will be different this year at AMMC

"Normally, AMMC is a very busy place during Ramadan. Hundreds of community members attend the five daily prayers in congregation. And especially the taraweeh prayer which is a nightly prayer is well attended. Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder, about two to three hundred people would get together at dusk time to do iftar or open the fast daily. But because of this unprecedented time, COVID-19 lock down, social distancing, we have closed AMMC until further notice."

On how congregants will continue to fast and perform charity 

"Even before the start of Ramadan, we started distributing grocery boxes which is like a week worth of food for the entire family. And we have plans to come out and put those boxes together and distribute to the community, go out to the shelters and drop the food over there. Although we won't be able to personally serve like we normally do during the month of Ramadan every year. But, we're going to be either funding the shelter or we're going to take the food up to them for them to distribute among the people who are living there."

On whether the month will still be a fruitful one for the Longwood community

"You know, Muslims believe that this is an opportunity for us to connect to our Creator. And for connection, we don't need anybody. We don't definitely need a place, although the award multiplies when you come to the mosque or the Islamic center to pray. But at the same time, you can get connected any time. If you do the five times daily prayers, read Quran which is our holy book, and fast and provide service to humanity, you are checking all the boxes.
To listen to the full conversation, click on the clip above.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
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