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Bassam Tariq & Aman Ali: 30 Mosques in 30 Days: An American Ramadan Roadtrip

31 July 2011 Huffington Post 3 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
Day 2: Two young men take turns reciting verses they have memorized from the Quran. Both were brought from a special Islamic school in Buffalo, NY to lead the special night prayer during the month of Ramadan.

Day 2: Two young men take turns reciting verses they have memorized from the Quran. Both were brought from a special Islamic school in Buffalo, NY to lead the special night prayer during the month of Ramadan.

Day 8: A boy jumps off the slide. Soon enough, the other kids follow suit.

Day 8: A boy jumps off the slide. Soon enough, the other kids follow suit.

It was an impulsive and half-baked idea that changed our lives forever. During Ramadan 2010, Islam’s holy month of fasting and reflection, we hopped in a car and drove across America, stopping each evening to break our fast at a different mosque in a different state. We drove over 13,000 miles during the trip and blogged about it daily on our site, www.30mosques.com. We prayed in the infamous “Ground Zero Mosque,” got pulled over by a cop in Mississipi and stumbled upon one of the first mosques ever built in the United States when our car broke down. Along the way we also met the protagonist of Dave Eggers’ bestselling book Zeitoun, Cambodian Muslim victims of the Khmer Rouge, a Pakistani-Mormon couple, and many, many others, all of whom are part of the diverse Muslim-American community.

Our journey explored what it means to be Muslim in America today and served as a powerful counter-narrative to the media’s image of a monolithic Islam.

The project gained widespread coverage on several national media outlets including CNN, ABC News, NPR and even the Huffington Post, but the success really should be credited to our thousands of readers using Facebook and Twitter to buzz about the trip. Thanks to them, we were able to finance the entire project on individual contributions instead of large corporate sponsors.

Outside of this project, we are both respected in our professions as storytellers – Bassam as a cultivated filmmaker and an award-winning ad writer and Aman as an animated writer and standup comedian. When we came together as friends for this project, we told stories about Muslims in ways that nobody ever could. We spent time rolling down slides with kids in Jacksonville, laughing with Bosnians in Idaho – all in hopes of sharing intimate moments with Muslims in America that is seldom seen.

This year’s Ramadan, we’re finishing what we started. We will be back on the road visiting the 20 states we didn’t get a chance to visit – including Alaska and Hawaii. The remaining 10 days will have us revisiting some of the most compelling communities from last year. We felt we’ve only scratched the surface when it came to telling compelling stories about Muslims in this country and it is a no brainer for us to continue this journey.

Day 8: A boy jumps off the slide. Soon enough, the other kids follow suit.

Day 8: A boy jumps off the slide. Soon enough, the other kids follow suit.

Day 14: Shaikh Abu Omar fled Iraq in the 60's and since then has made Colorado his home. He sticks his tongue out in hopes of ruining the photos I was taking. If only he knew how much better he made it.

Day 14: Shaikh Abu Omar fled Iraq in the 60's and since then has made Colorado his home. He sticks his tongue out in hopes of ruining the photos I was taking. If only he knew how much better he made it.

Day 15: Benyamin (left) and AbdurRauf stand by the door of the prayer hall of Dar al Islam. Dar al Islam is a large educational facility built in a traditional North African Nubian architecture style.

Day 15: Benyamin (left) and AbdurRauf stand by the door of the prayer hall of Dar al Islam. Dar al Islam is a large educational facility built in a traditional North African Nubian architecture style.

Day 17: A Cham Cambodian Muslim runs a food truck outside the local Indo-Chinese Refugee Islamic Center. The Cham muslims fled Cambodia during the oppressive Khmer Rouge's regime genocide against their people. Many of them found a new home in Orange County during the early 1980's in a small compound that is subsidized by the government.

Day 17: A Cham Cambodian Muslim runs a food truck outside the local Indo-Chinese Refugee Islamic Center. The Cham muslims fled Cambodia during the oppressive Khmer Rouge's regime genocide against their people. Many of them found a new home in Orange County during the early 1980's in a small compound that is subsidized by the government.

Day 20: The Bosnian Muslims in Boise built an entire mosque without the help of any outside contractors. Everything from the electrical wiring to the painting was done by their small congregation. They also have meticulously documented the entire building in four photo albums that are nestled away in the mosque's library.

Day 20: The Bosnian Muslims in Boise built an entire mosque without the help of any outside contractors. Everything from the electrical wiring to the painting was done by their small congregation. They also have meticulously documented the entire building in four photo albums that are nestled away in the mosque's library.

Day 22: The first mosque in the United States used to stand here. It was built in 1929, then demolished in the 1970s due to family issues. Only recently, in 2005, did some of the family decide to a build a small building to commemorate community members who have passed away.

Day 22: The first mosque in the United States used to stand here. It was built in 1929, then demolished in the 1970s due to family issues. Only recently, in 2005, did some of the family decide to a build a small building to commemorate community members who have passed away.

Day 30: Our last stop before New York leads us to the largest population of Muslims in North America, Dearborn, Michigan. We also end up visiting neighboring cities densely populated with Muslims. Here, an uncle who is a local community leader lands an epic hit--making him the champion for the day.

Day 30: Our last stop before New York leads us to the largest population of Muslims in North America, Dearborn, Michigan. We also end up visiting neighboring cities densely populated with Muslims. Here, an uncle who is a local community leader lands an epic hit--making him the champion for the day.

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3 Comments »

  1. Happy Ramadan to all of my Muslim friends!

    Every year, I try to learn something about Islam, Muslims and their faith even though I’m not Muslim. It helps foster a sense of understanding and human kindship.

    Again, happy Ramadan!

  2. Mashallah

    Allah o Akbar, please please my fellow brothers and sisters on the Huffington Post leave your ways and come join the glorious ways of islam. You will find inner peace. and new sense of life.

    Salaam. May peace be upon you

    -asad

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