South MS Muslims observe Ramadan by helping community

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - South Mississippi Muslims said by making a positive difference in the community they want to show people that Muslims aren't very different from communities of faith. Right now members of the Islamic faith are observing Ramadan. This is a time that Muslims say they are called to fast, pray and to help the less fortunate.

From clothes and shoes to food and supplies, people were welcome to take what they needed as much as they needed at the Biloxi Islamic Center's food and clothes giveaway.

"It is wonderful. It's a blessing," said Erika. "I thank them for everything they're doing for everybody around Biloxi, Mississippi."

Oscar Mendoza was also grateful. He said, "First, I thank them because it is a help they give to us that can't help ourselves.  It would be good that they continue doing this because many people need it."

The Biloxi Islamic Center started its annual clothing and food giveaway eight years ago. A community service event for the month of Ramadan.

"For Muslims, it is the number one month throughout the year," said Sabree Rashid, Biloxi Islamic Center President. "The month that the Holy Koran, our holy book was revealed to Mohammad. It's required fasting for those of us who say we believe and the brings out the best in us. "

"We want to serve as a catalyst for doing good things. As a religious community, we want to be able to do good things. I think this shows the people that are in need. We started doing this project before Katrina. There was a need then. There's a greater need now."

Muslims said getting involved with the community is a way to build relationships and tear down misconceptions about the Islamic faith.

Rashid said, "They see that we are just like they are. A lot of people don't understand Muslims. They think that we are different because we are minorities. But we have the same interests, needs and desires that they have. Once they come here they see things that we're doing, the food and clothing that we're giving away. It lets them know that we're friends. "

Ramadan ends at sunset September 10th.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.