Continued from USA (Jan 1996) – Part 1
The following day, we had a very interesting discussion regarding the US over Ifṭār, with our host, a Ship Surveyor by the name of Mahmūd. He informed us that the population of the US was 261 million out of which 8 million were Muslims, 50-60% of marriages break down, and 33% of children are illegitimate; this was shocking to hear.
Tarāwīḥ would take approximately an hour, with Ḥāfiẓ Rafīq leading 8 RakꜤāt and me 12, and, 20 males and 10 females would attend, on average. The evening would end with a short speech after Witr.
Ifṭār next day was with Iqbāl & Rāḥila, who were store owners, and the following day we were hosted by Ayyūb Modi, a memon who was a Pharmacist by profession. He had invited a Pakistani youth called Fayyāz, who had seen many parts of the US, and Muḥsin Tawfīq. According to Muḥsin, who had travelled extensively for his export business, the best place to visit in the US was Seattle (Washington), and one of the best countries he had visited was Oman, wherein especially Muscat.
We also discussed the Nation of Islām, which they said was regarded as a cult group that believed in Elijah Muḥammad as a Prophet, and presently led by Louis Farrakhan. After performing Ḥajj, Malcolm X left this group, forming his own group (Muslim Mosque, Inc.) based on mainstream Islām and was, hence, assassinated. It was also worrying to learn that Qadiānis are also active in the US. On a positive note, the work of Tablīgh JamāꜤat is progressing well, especially in jails, where many prisoners revert to Islām.
Saturday was regarded as family Ifṭār day when everyone broke their fast together at the Tampa Islamic Centre. This is where we met one of the main people responsible for running the Centre, Yaḥyā Choudhury; an intelligent man with a lot of influence. Surprisingly, we came across a brother, with the surname Wādiwālā, who had lived in Blackburn (Napier St.) and moved to Leicester in 1974. That evening, Mawlānā IsmāꜤīl Pānoliwālā, a graduate of Falāh-e-Dārayn (Tadkeshwar), who had come to Clearwater from Zimbabwe for Tarāwīḥ, stayed with us.
We really wanted to visit New York, and managed to change our tickets in such a way that we could spend a day in The Big Apple before leaving the US. Mawlānā Yaḥyā knew a brother called Aḥmad Jūtha in New York, whom we contacted.
Dr Zafarullāh had invited the whole of New Port Richey for Ifṭār on Sunday where we met Dr Zakī, a heart specialist.
We were enjoying our time in Florida, and Ramaḍān was progressing very quickly, but we still hadn’t seen much of what Florida had to offer, so we started planning to visit some more attractions, managing to pick up tickets to the 4 major theme parks for £100 per person.
On 7th Feb 1996, we visited Disneyland; it was amazing, and very memorable. We drove for some 65 miles towards Orlando, arriving after an hour at Disneyland. It is a massive complex comprising 3 (now 4) main parks, each of which has separately themed areas. Fasting and the heat didn’t stop us from having a great day at the first park, Magic Kingdom, making the most of the rides and shows, but we were shattered by Ifṭār.
Within Magic Kingdom, there are six ‘lands’, of which kids would love Fantasyland, as it is themed on Disney. The characters are a sight to see and the visualisation of imaginary people & animals is amazing. Liberty Square (Hall of Presidents) was the most catching area, and ‘The Lion King Story’ was a truly fascinating attraction.
The next day we travelled the same distance again and enjoyed a full day at the Epcot Center, which although totally different, was another amazing experience. This park is divided into 2 sections, with Future World geared more towards science and advanced technology. There were some amazing rides like ‘Into the Future’ and one of the shows ‘Honey I shrunk the Audience’ was magical. The World Showcase area has 11 pavilions, each themed to a particular country, of which the replica for Morocco was amazing. Again, by the time of Ifṭār, we were completely exhausted.
… Sea World, Orlando, Clearwater, and New York … continued in USA Part 3.