Shuttered for more than two years, the former Burger King location at 2481 Knapp Street has been converted into a temporary prayer space for local Muslims to observe Ramadan.
The Muslim American Society has taken over the space with a one-month lease, allowing them to celebrate one of the religion’s most important holidays near their homes. The group sought out a temporary place of worship while their permanent location, 2812 Voorhies Avenue, nears completion.
“The [Voorhies Avenue] building wasn’t going to be ready for Ramadan, and they need a facility, so they rented that place. They have a lease. They have all their paperwork. They’re only there for one month,” said Kenan Tashkent, the 61st Precinct’s liaison to the Muslim community. Tashkent met with the mosque’s congregants and leadership yesterday, and noted that the Voorhies Avenue location remains a few months away from completion.
Paper signs have been taped up in English and Arabic at the Knapp Street storefront. The interior has been carpeted, with a curtain separating prayer spaces for men and women, as is tradition.
“They were very nice, very cooperative. They told me everything. They’ve got all of their paperwork and they don’t need to disturb the neighborhood or anything. It’s their holiday,” he added.
Ramadan began this past Saturday, June 28, and ends on July 27. It’s the most sacred month for Muslims, marking Muhammed’s first revelations. It is observed by fasting, donating to charity, prayer and recitation of the Quran.
Local Muslims, of which there is a large community in the Kings Bay and Plumb Beach areas, as well as around Voorhies Avenue, have long sought to establish a local mosque. After raising funds, they submitted plans to construct an Islamic community center at 2812 Voorhies Avenue in 2009 – a proposal that saw vehement, and sometimes racially motivated, opposition from neighbors. After court battles, they won permission from the city to move forward and it has been under construction ever since.
Prior to establishing a local site, area Muslims had to travel to Brighton Beach, Bath Beach or head further north in Brooklyn to attend a mosque. More than just miles away, many of the institutions are far over capacity, causing overflows onto sidewalks and streets during high holidays like Ramadan – which the mosque organizers hope to reduce by establishing a local site.
Organizers from the mosque could not be reached for this article.