NOTE: DUE TO HURRICANE IRENE, OUR UPDATES HAVE SLOWED DOWN. SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE

We sleep as Hurricane Irene passes us by. The electricity and water go out. Aman nudges me to wake up.

“Wake up. They want us to clear the sister’s area.” Aman says.

It was the quietest corner in the mosque the night before. So it made perfect sense to sleep there. I roll up my sleeping bag and head downstairs.

It is close to 12PM and everyone in the mosque is sleeping. The wind pounds the windows and the rain shakes the roof. All this happens as the congregation continues sleeping. I step out of the mosque to get some fresh air and am met with fallen trees and leaves blanketing the entire mosque parking lot.

 

The Rhode Island mosque, Masjid Islam, is beautiful. It is located on top of a hill and is surrounded by nothing but trees. The land was bought a long time back by a Muslim cardiologist who then funded a lot of the mosques building from his own pocket.

I step back inside the mosque and am met again with the snores of the congregants. No one has woken up except for a Bangladeshi uncle, let’s call him Mujeeb Rehman. Mujeeb was up all last night reciting Quran with sporadic bursts of loudness. It would have been okay if he had kept a single volume throughout the night, but somehow or another, his random inflections added another hurdle to sleeping the night before. The man was a trooper. His last ten days of Ramadan are precious to him, that is why he won’t let any of us get in the way of it.

 

A minute later, he walks up to this Jake Gyllenhaal-look-a-like and talks about Quran reading.

“Uncle, you kept us all up last night!” I joke with him.

“Did I?” He says, puzzled. “I don’t know sometimes when I am reciting I forget how loud I can be.”

We smile and he goes back to his corner to finish reading the Quran.

Mujeeb is retired and is now resting in Rhode Island. Many people that live in Rhode Island, surprisingly don’t work there. Last night, many of the congregants in the community work in Boston or another city in Massachusetts.

“Rhode Island was known for its textile and jewerly industry.” Fawaad, a young member of the community tells me, “but because of outsourcing, the markets left. We were hit with the recession two years before everyone else.”

The state’s remoteness reminded me of Alaska. The terrain is different here, but the static nature and calmness had remnants to Anchorage than any other small midwest town we visited.

The rain begins to fall again and we have an impulse to go shoot some fireworks. We get in our car and head over to a “no trespass” zone and start firing roman candles and bottle rockets across the construction field. We climb a small hill and then fall back down. We contemplate jumping a fence and running down to some train tracks, but find the jump to the track too steep. The only jacket I’ve had on this entire trip is a cardigan, and when it rains it does me no good. The rain comes in and out and without an umbrella or a jacket, I become the victim of her mood swings.

 

 

As all this happens, I wonder why we just weren’t sleeping with the rest of the congregation. Why can’t we just stay put? What is it in us that keeps us doing this. Do people even care anymore? If I start doing “IOAH’oih’fouh’0rh2’oh ht would anyone notice? If I Or will people still just say “mashaAllah, great blog brother!” or “where are the pictures of the food?”

Who knows? But what matters is – we do care. We are wide awake.