News / USA

Two US Muslims Visit 30 Mosques in 30 US States During Ramadan

Multimedia

Audio

Amid the backdrop of the controversy surrounding plans for an Islamic center near the site of the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and as a pastor in the southeastern state of Florida draws headlines for sponsoring a Quran burning, two young Muslim men have set out to discover America - Islamic America.  Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq are visiting 30 mosques in 30 states in 30 days.

And they are documenting their experiences on their website:  30mosques.com.

Aman Ali
Aman Ali

Aman Ali traces his ability to tell a story to his upbringing in a small town in the Midwestern state of Ohio. "I was not only the only Muslim at school, I was the only minority.  And so, I wasn't just explaining to people what being a Muslim was.  I was explaining to them why I wasn't black," he said.

Since the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, Ali says he has felt as though not only his religion has been hijacked by terrorists, but also the story of Muslims in the United States.

"I feel that there hasn't been anybody out there that has been telling the story of Muslims correctly, so it's time that we as Muslims tell our own stories about what Islam is like for each of us," he said.

Together with his friend Bassam Tariq, Ali set out in 2009 to document on the Internet the Muslim experience in New York City.

During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, they visited 30 mosques in 30 days around the city's five boroughs.

What Ali says he learned from the experience is that Muslims are a permanent part of the American landscape. "Muslims aren't just practicing their religion, they are here to stay.  They are integrating themselves and weaving themselves into the American social fabric," he said.

Bassam-Tariq
Bassam-Tariq

Bassam Tariq says the 2009 project gave rise to their more ambitious plan to document the Muslim experience across the country. "It's 30 days, 30 states, 30 mosques," he said.

Ali and Tariq's "Ramadan Road Trip" began last month at an Islamic prayer room in New York City.  

Their month-long journey took them to the oldest mosque in North America - in small town of Ross, North Dakota - and to an adobe mosque on a New Mexico mountain top.

After traveling nearly 18,000 kilometers and meeting hundreds of people eager to share their stories, the two men arrived at a Shia mosque on the outskirts of Chicago, where they were just as eager to share their story with us.

With only a few days left in their adventure, Tariq says they have yet to encounter any backlash against Muslims. "We haven't run into any communities that have had any problems with their neighbors.  In fact, we've seen the opposite," he said.

Ali says he sees their journey and how they are documenting their experiences on the Internet as a way to change perceptions about Muslims in America. "I've traveled a lot overseas.  And people in other countries, in general, think Muslims are oppressed here.  And I don't want to downplay the severity of hate crimes and security issues and things like that, but it's not representative of our lifestyle whatsoever," he said.

Tariq and Ali say that days spent fasting on the road and nights spent eating at different mosques in communities across the country has also been a journey of self-discovery.

"Going around Muslim America, and really seeing how broad of a definition of America people are willing to accept - both Muslim and non-Muslim - I mean, this is home.  I feel like this is home," said Tariq.

"We are not two-dimensional characters," said Ali.  "We live in this country; we contribute to this economy; we go to public school; we're human beings.  We play basketball.  I like Bon Jovi.  You know, I do things just like anyone else.  I'm a Muslim.  I'm proud of who I am, and I'm accepting of other cultures as well."

The final leg of Tariq and Ali's journey will take them to Tennessee and Michigan, before returning to New York City where they will celebrate the end of Ramadan on September 11.

You May Like

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs