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Muslims in Naples observe Ramadan: fasting, reflection, and community giving

Posted at 4:51 PM, Mar 21, 2024

NAPLES, Fla — Hundreds of people in Southwest Florida are currently observing Ramadan - fasting from sunrise to sunset as part of Islam's holiest month.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and almost 2 billion Muslims worldwide take part. It is a time where Muslims reflect and and distance themselves from bad habits.

Fasting is one of Islam's five core pillars and Muslims believe it is a direct command by God.

Many Muslims also stress the importance of empathizing with the less fortunate.

"One of the most important things that we do during the month of Ramadan is that we help others," said Imam Nour, the religious leader of the Naples Islamic Center.

Imam Nour emphasized that Muslims fast in Ramadan primarily out of submission to God. He also explained that Muslims will donate money on behalf of their families to those in need within their local communities during the holy month.

"We look for those people who are in need, those people who cannot afford, who are struggling in their life," Imam Nour said. "We help first those who are local, and then if you don't find anyone who is local, you look at other people. You look at other places; it doesn't matter where they are located," he added.

Exceptions to fasting include individuals who are sick, elderly, or traveling. If one cannot remake their fast, they must feed someone in need.

"We also fast so we can feel what other people feel when they don't have money, when they don't have food, when they don't have water," Imam Nour explained. "It makes you think 'I should be more grateful'", he added.

Despite the challenges, Ramadan is cherished as a symbol of identity for Imam Nour's family and community.

"We are so busy with this life and distracted like we have other things to do. The month of Ramadan, when it comes, we kind of unplug. We disconnect from everything and connect to God," he said.

According to the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative, Muslim Americans give an estimated $1.8 billion in zakat donations every year, with most given or pledged during Ramadan.