The Charlotte area is now home to at least a dozen mosques – that’s “masjids” in Arabic.
These places of prayer and fellowship are particularly popular destinations during Ramadan – the holiest month on the Islamic calendar. This sacred time of repentance and daytime fasting began at the end of June and will continue until nearly the end of July.
Probably the most diverse mosque in town is the Muslim American Society of Charlotte on Shamrock Drive. And last week (as shown in the photos), Muslims who have emigrated here from Africa, south Asia, the Middle East and many other areas converged on MAS near sundown. Together, they prayed to God – that’s “Allah” in Arabic – and broke the daily fast with a community dinner called “iftar.”
The “imam,” or prayer leader, at MAS is John Ederer, 35, a convert from Oklahoma who was raised in a Catholic family, baptized a Southern Baptist, then became a Muslim at 18. He studied in Egypt for a year and Kuwait for four years.
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The goal of Muslims during Ramadan, Ederer explained, is to strive for “God-consciousness” through, for example, the discipline of fasting.
“If food and water are nourishment for the human body, then abstaining from food and water is nourishment for the human soul,” he said. “Once you gain some control of these basic necessities to live … then the secondary desires of the world – lust, greed, envy, hatred and violence – you should be able to control better.”