NOIDA, India (AP) â€” Kneeling under a midday sun on mats laid over an unfinished pavement, Fakhruddin places his hands & head to the ground in prayer.
He joins hundreds of other devoted Indian Muslims in a lot surrounded by towering residential apartments outside of a Muslim shrine that has become a makeshift mosque.
Fakhruddin, 45, who operates a roadside barbershop, is an Indian Muslim & a minority in predominantly Hindu India.
p>Like many Muslims worldwide, Fakhruddin is currently observing Ramadan â€” a month of intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting & nightly feasts. He answers some questions approximately his faith & Islam's holiest month:
In this July 8, 2015, photo, Fakhruddin, 45, puts on a skullcap after performing the ritual washing …
Q: HOW IMPORTANT IS PRAYER TO YOU?
In this July 8, 2015, photo, Fakhruddin, 45, gives an Indian man a shave at his roadside barbershop …
A: It's the core of Islam. It's more significant than anything else. I do not say that I pray five times a day & seven days a week yet I always try my best to pray wherever I am.
Q: DO YOU ALWAYS PRAY HERE?
A: I always pray here whether it's Ramadan or not. Prayers are not mandatory only in Ramadan, yet throughout the year. Only the reward is greater if you pray in a mosque in a congregation in Ramadan
Q: IF YOU COULD CHANGE ANYTHING ABOUT RAMADAN, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
A: I wish the weather was (more) pleasant. It is very trying to swift when temperatures soar as high as 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Farenheit). I work in the open. We pray in the open no matter how hot it gets. Allah never fails its servants.
Q: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO YOU ABOUT BEING A MUSLIM IN INDIA?
A: My identity. There are few visible things that a Muslim is supposed to follow, like sporting a beard, a skullcap. Other things cannot be seen, for example; being helpful, satisfactory behavior etc. But unfortunately, we are forced to conceal our visible identity. A bearded man with a skullcap is seen as a threat in India & therefore subjected to humiliation. There was a time when I moreover had beard yet had to shave it off. To be honest I am running my business here in front of the mosque so that I could feel secure.
Each day this week the Associated Press will focus on a Muslim devotee living in the minority in the Asia-Pacific region, illustrating what the fasting month of Ramadan means to the Muslim community in that country.
Associated Press photographers & photo editors on Twitter: http://apne.ws/15Oo6jo
Source: “Associated Press”