May 6 marked the beginning of Ramadan, the ninth month on the Islamic calendar observed by Muslims across the globe. This year’s holy month also comes after attacks on Muslim communities in Sri Lanka and in Christchurch, New Zealand. Imam Muaaz Kalla of the Madina Institute in west Little Rock, says the attacks have prompted the institute to install extra security throughout the center.
“When that attack happened there was sort of an uneasy feeling within the masjid and because of that we have taken precautions. Although we’ve never had any issues here before, we have stepped up our security measures...installing cameras systems, lock systems with keypad access,” Kalla said.
According to Kalla the Madina Institute will also have 24 hour security and a police presence during times when the mosque is typically busy. The monitors for the cameras throughout the institute are visible in the dining area. Kalla says the monitors are more for the attendees, so they can feel more secure. However, according to Kalla, there has yet to be a major problem with the community.
“So far we haven’t seen many problems around this area. People are generally understanding. People are very welcoming and warm, but you know we always take precautions,” Kalla said. He added that the interfaith in Little Rock community was compassionate following the attack in Christchurch.
“We actually received flowers from the Jewish community and we received visits from the Christian community and everyone just came together. Even if they were non-religious, atheism or anyone,” Kalla said. “They would just come in and give their condolences and say ‘You know what, we are here with you,’ and that was really heartwarming and there’s not many places that you get that. So that’s something really special to Little Rock.” According to Kalla, Ramadan is going well at the Madina Institute so far, with large attendances for their daily fast-breaking after sunset. Kalla encourages everyone to visit the Madina Institute to observe.
“We see definitely an increase in people when they come to worship, so it’s a really important month for all Muslims and I would encourage everyone to come and witness it. You don’t have to be a part of it, but you can witness it and to come spend this wonderful time with us and eat with us would be awesome,” Kalla said.