News / USA

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

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid