Taraweeh prayers held in New York's Times Square

'That it’s happening in the busiest part of the city is amazing,' says woman who attended with friends and family

Taraweeh performed in Times Square

Times Square held an iftar and Taraweeh prayers
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For the second year in a row, hundreds of Muslims observing Ramadan broke their fast and held taraweeh prayers in New York's Times Square.

The weekend event was organised by Muslim social media influencer SQ, in collaboration with Muslims Giving Back and Droplets of Mercy.

Dahlia Tarek, who attended with family and friends, said it was important to provide the space for people to ask questions about Islam in an open and welcoming environment.

“I think the fact that it’s happening in the [busiest] part of the city is an amazing thing,” Ms Tarek said.

“I hope it still keeps happening every year because it’s really good and I hope the population keeps growing.”

At sunset, Quran reciters Faisal Latif and Faraj Hasan led the prayers and people began breaking their fasts with free iftar meals.

Muslims Giving Back said it distributed more than 2,000 meals featuring dates, water, pizza and gyro sandwiches, in partnership with food sponsors. Several hundred people stayed and joined the taraweeh prayers.

Motivational speakers and social media figures gave speeches, including Muhammad Abdul-Aleem (also known as HoopFinesse), who was the event's MC, and blogger Faduma Mohamed, aka speakpure, who was invited as a guest speaker.

The event's goal was to help non-Muslim New Yorkers see how Ramadan is observed.

“Of course Islamophobia is on the rise and our religion is one of the most misunderstood religions in the world, yet we are the fastest-growing religion in the world,” SQ said.

He added that the event, held under the bright neon lights and advertisements of New York's most famous square, was an opportunity for Muslims to come together and also help other people learn more about Islam.

During the prayers, a projector displayed the verses from the Quran as they were recited, along with an English translation.

Yamina Kezadri of Muslims Giving Back said the event was an example of “dawah through action”. Dawah is the act of spreading or preaching Islam.

“You don’t just say dawah or do dawah to people by pushing pamphlets or providing information, but showing and presenting ourselves as Muslims and what we do for our community,” she said.

Haeiko Jaspers, who was visiting New York from Germany, stumbled across the event while walking through Times Square.

“I think it’s a good idea to do it in public and everybody has a chance to understand,” the tourist said.

Representatives from the Jamil Foundation for Children and Youth answered questions throughout and provided literature and learning materials, and distributed free English and Spanish translations of the Quran.

By the end of the night, two people took the shahada and converted to Islam after listening to the Quran recitations.

“That’s easily the highlight of the event,” SQ said.

Updated: June 23, 2023, 12:06 PM