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AP PHOTOS: Indian Muslims observe holy month of Ramadan

In this July 2, 2015, photo, Fakhruddin prays after breaking his Ramadan fast at the shrine of Syed Abdullah Khan, who was a pious Muslim, in Noida, southeast of New Delhi, India. Devoted Indian Muslims, who live in the minority in predominantly Hindu India, pray in this lot which has become their community's makeshift mosque, surrounded by towering residential apartments. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

NOIDA, India (AP) — Kneeling under a midday sun on mats laid over an unfinished pavement, Fakhruddin places his hands and 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 and a minority in predominantly Hindu India.

Like many Muslims worldwide, Fakhruddin is currently observing Ramadan — a month of intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts. He answers some questions about his faith and Islam’s holiest month:

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Q: HOW IMPORTANT IS PRAYER TO YOU?

A: It’s the core of Islam. It’s more important than anything else. I do not say that I pray five times a day and seven days a week but I always try my best to pray wherever I am.

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Q: DO YOU ALWAYS PRAY HERE?

A: I always pray here whether it’s Ramadan or not. Prayers are not mandatory only in Ramadan, but throughout the year. Only the reward is greater if you pray in a mosque in a congregation in Ramadan

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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 fast 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.

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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, good 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 and therefore subjected to humiliation. There was a time when I also had beard but 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.

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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.

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Associated Press photographers and photo editors on Twitter: http://apne.ws/15Oo6jo

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