Miami-Dade County

Showing solidarity with local Muslims after the Orlando shootings

Rania Ishoof, 9, left, Maryum Rasikh, 6, Hafsa Sulieman, 7, and Sauda Sulaiman, 4, listen to remarks about the Orlando killings prior to a fast-breaking dinner during Ramadan at the Islamic School of Miami on June 13, 2016.
Rania Ishoof, 9, left, Maryum Rasikh, 6, Hafsa Sulieman, 7, and Sauda Sulaiman, 4, listen to remarks about the Orlando killings prior to a fast-breaking dinner during Ramadan at the Islamic School of Miami on June 13, 2016. pfarrell@miamiherald.com

Debbie Lowe planned on visiting the mosque Monday night.

She wanted to show support for her Muslim friends as they broke their daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan — just as they were there for her during her Chinese holidays.

After Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando at the hands of a man law enforcement officials saywas likely influenced by Islamic terrorists, Lowe said it was even more important to attend the event.

“We need to show our solidarity,” she said. “I know that it’s not the faith. It’s one bad apple that could come from any one of our communities.”

Lowe was one of several South Floridians who gathered Monday night at the Islamic School of Miami at Al Noor Mosque in Kendall to join in Iftar — the breaking of the fast meal. The open house was for people of all faiths to observe Ramadan, the Islamic holy month marked by prayer, charity and selflessness. A final open house will be held Tuesday at the Islamic Jafferia Association Center in Hialeah Gardens.

“We want people to come and feel what a mosque is like,” said Shabbir Motorwala, a representative from the Coalition of South Florida Muslim Organizations.

During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, refraining from any kind of food or drink as a way to develop spiritually.

Those who spoke offered their condolences to the victims of the Orlando shooting, but emphasized that their Islam was not the Islam the shooter preached.

“Some people did bad things in the name of our religion,” said Bilal Karakira, a founding member of the school. “But this is our religion, not theirs — a religion of peace.”

Muhammad Uzai, who has volunteered at the event for the past four years, said he felt there were more people in attendance Monday in part because of the Orlando shootings.

“It created a sense of greater importance,” he said, adding that it was meaningful to see people trying to understand the Muslim faith.

“We wanted to show who we truly are. We’re not those people we see on TV.”

And the support of the community made the Iftar even more meaningful as people shared dates, cheese, tomatoes, olives and water after the sun set.

“Their presence touches the heart,” said Karakira, gesturing to the prayer rooms. “It means the world to us.”

If you go

The next Ramadan Open House will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, at the Islamic Jafferia Association Center, 10554 NW 132nd St., Hialeah Gardens. The dinner is free, but RSVP is required. Please call or email Jamil Rizvi at 305-607-1768 or jamilhrizvi@gmail.com

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