FL: Imams Shape Islamic Community


Shafayat Mohamed has mastered the American way. He's a magazine editor and former local radio host, and he has his own line of DVDs.

And he's the leader of one of the largest mosques in South Florida.

Mohammed Zakaria Badat, a soft-spoken British transplant who favors the BBC for his news, came to the area two years ago with his wife and three young children. He's quickly building a congregation at his Kendall mosque, tapping into the American psyche -- though he hasn't yet converted to CNN.

“I like America and the American people,” he said. But being new to the area, “you're learning new things about the community every day.”

As imams, both are playing pivotal roles in shaping South Florida's burgeoning Islamic community, which today begins its observance of Ramadan, the holiest month in Islam. For the next 30 days, most of the region's approximately 70,000 Muslims will fast from sunrise to sunset and pray up to five times a day. They will read the Koran, the Islamic holy book, with the goal of finishing its 800-plus pages by the end of Ramadan.

“As the Muslim population grows, they're both influential in the community,” said Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout, director of the American Muslim Association of North America, which is based in Miami and in its 10th year. “They're spiritual leaders, and people come to them for advice.”

While both men are devout Muslims, their experiences and styles are worlds, or more appropriately, continents apart. (MORE)

 


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