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New York Muslims Observe Ramadan - 2002-11-06

Wednesday, Muslims in New York begin their observance of the holy month of Ramadan. For the 30 days of Ramadan, devout Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours. The holiday is also marked by increased religious activity, and more time spent with friends and family.

According to Abdul Malik Ahmed, founder of the Islamic Council of America, the second oldest mosque in New York City, this is how Ramadan has been celebrated for the past 1,400 years, and this year in New York will be no different.

"It is compulsory for the Muslims to fast," he said. "So there is no difference this year to that year. We are here to pray."

Mr. Ahmed says the threat of a U.S. attack on Iraq and the specter of September 11, 2001 exist outside the solemn religious event, and will not color it.

Many of his fellow New York Muslims are in agreement. Shidul Mollah has lived in New York for 16 years.

"I don't have anything on my mind like that," he said. "I am a New Yorker, I live a long time here, I am a U.S. citizen. I live here, I'm doing my part of the religion. As a Muslim, I practice my religion. I don't know about what people say. We just go make a prayer, go home, and that's it."

With close to 350,000 Muslims living in the New York area, it is difficult to say what the general consensus among them is regarding the atmosphere surrounding this year's Ramadan. But according to many New York Muslims, another holy month will be celebrated with quiet dignity.