DAY 27




by Bassam Tariq


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.











Talkback and tell us what you think! We encourage you to share your thoughts and opinions. All
points of view are welcome as part of a civil dialogue.

While we post most Talkback, we reserve the right to not publish Talkback comments if they do
not meet the Talkback guidelines.

We do not post the following types of submissions:

* Obscenity, indecency, hate speech, personal attacks, libel, defamation, or harassment;
* Commercial prompts or spam; or
* Off-topic posts.

Comments over 300 words may be edited for length or not approved for posting.

We welcome letters to the editor. With your submission, please include your email address so a
response may be sent to you directly. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

We reserve the right to remove posts that do not follow these guidelines. By submitting
comments, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, which include more details.

Thank you for your Talkback.

  • Yasmine

    mashallah, great blog brother! ;)

  • nina

    I care. Thanks brother. always made my days. It’s first of syawal here in indonesia. Ied mubarak.

  • Amenaskhan

    Hahahaha. “mashaAllah, great blog brother!” I do like the idea of a mosque on a hill.

  • Hifza M

    Dude You guys ROCK!! Ramadan just can’t be the same without reading your blog daily. Keep up the
    awesomes-ness :)

  • Dave

    Glad you enjoyed your stay in Rhode Island!

  • Guest

    Besides the hurricane and lack of power/water, I hope you enjoyed your visit to Masjid ul Islam and the Quran khatam!

  • Guest


  • Shakib45

    any idea for next year? i have, “30 people in 30 states” looks like photo-voice and story-telling is what you guys do best. if you don’t do it, i will.

  • Anonymous

    I am one of those people who’ve often said things like “Ma sha’ Allah, great blog, brother,” but it’s not because I haven’t read what you had to say. I suspect it’s the same with the others. Yes, people do actually read what you write. Don’t let it stop you from enjoying yourself and sliding down hills and shooting fireworks, though.

  • Sheza

    majid-al islam is my mosque. i go there a lot =)

  • Shakib45

    just typing in the early hours of the day of eid to wish a happy eid to you two. where will you tent in for the ramadan ending feast?

  • Abdullah

    dudes, I love your blogs. I’m sure alot of other people care. This road trip should be archived into American Muslim history!

  • Jbmingo

    I’m sure you already know that you must get a lot of non-Moslem readers (like myself) who read about your travels with great interest.  You write very well; and yes, we do care! Personally, I appreciate all of the writing and work that you guys have done: I’m really glad for the chance to learn a little more about all of these American cultures, and see something of Islamic lifestyle in this country.  Hope y’all are well!

    P.S.- Don’t let the police catch you with those roman candles; as fireworks are illegal in most of New England.  ;)

Switch to our mobile site