MIAMI — A Florida mosque is welcoming non-Muslims to join in festivities during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The Miami Herald reports (http://hrld.us/1mv3WWT ) Masjid AnNoor held a fifth annual open house to coincide with Ramadan.
During Ramadan, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. The fasting and prayers are designed to help followers reconnect spiritually.
Participants from a variety of faiths joined at the mosque and learned about Muslim customs.
"It was like the first time I visited a Catholic Church," said Stephanie Restrepo, who was raised Pentecostal. "I wanted to actually learn what's inside, what's the process of their prayer."
Imam Zakaria Badat, the leader of the congregation, explained to the group the purpose of the fast and how it is broken. Muslims traditionally begin by eating a date and then take part in the sunset prayer. After prayers, they break the fast with a celebratory meal known as an Iftaar.
"The fast is a self-discipline," Badat said.
Nidal Hozien, chair of the Islamic School of Miami, said the event is designed to bridge gaps, open doors and show people what goes on inside mosques.
"I think the biggest thing is it debunks stereotypes that people don't know what's going on inside this domed building," Hozien said. "It's not some mystical place. It helps a lot when we talk to people in this area."
Information from: The Miami Herald, http://www.herald.com