It was the first time New York City’s Times Square hosted a Taraweeh prayer on Saturday. However, several Muslim community members have expressed concerns about the event being held at a bustling location with tons of flashy posters.
Middle East Eye (MEE) spoke with the organizer of the event, who requested to be addressed as SQ. He said that he hoped the spectacle of congregational prayers would show benefit non-Muslims in learning more about Islam.
SQ boasts more than 152,000 followers on Instagram and nearly 400,000 subscribers on Youtube.
“Allah inspired me to hold a dawah event, which will not only unite the Muslims together but teach the non-Muslims what Ramadan is all about, why we fast, and to essentially educate them about Islam while creating the most entertaining and historic dawah event ever,” he SQ.
Hundreds of people gathered in Times Square on Saturday to mark the start of Ramadan and hold the first day of Taraweeh prayers.
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Several Muslim New Yorkers, however, had voiced concern over the desire to hold religious events at the location, claiming that prayers performed in the presence of giant billboards that often display images of scantily clad models would not bridge the divide between Muslims and the wider community.
Muslim New Yorkers voice their concerns
“Taraweeh is supposed to be an intimate form of worship. I don’t understand why this has to be done in Times Square. Have you seen the billboards?” a resident of Queens, told MEE.
“I was down there yesterday with my in-laws. People are practically naked on the screens. Exactly what message are we sending to non-Muslims by praying under that?”
“Are they going to completely silence Times Square, which is literally the loudest place to be with loud music everywhere, while they recite the most beautiful words of Allah? Good luck with that,” said a resident of Brooklyn.
Another resident told MEE that the money SQ was using to fund the event could be used to feed the city’s homeless or other vulnerable groups. “I am sure he makes tons of money as a YouTuber. But he could use it to feed a thousand people. He could donate it to one of the pantries. Not everything has to be flashy.”
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