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09/04/2011

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LOOKING BACK
by Bassam Tariq

Tired in NYC.

They say that nostalgia is one of the most useless human emotions. What do you get from sulking or waxing about the past? Maybe this isn’t that. Maybe this is just a reflection on some of the moments that can’t seem to leave my mind.

Day 3: Corvallis, Oregon – Letters To Your “Terrorist” Friend.


We meet friends of a convicted terrorist and ask them a simple question: If they could say anything to their friend, what would it be? In the beginning, many were nervous about sharing their thoughts, but as they eased into it we were able to get some incredibly thoughtful and emotional responses.

Day 5: Honolulu, Hawaii – Ten Hours Of Shoddy Tourism

I tried to break down my entire 10 hour Hawaii trip hour-by-hour. It was an ambitious idea. Not sure if people got what I was trying to do.

Day 8: Sioux Falls, South Dakota – Finding Love In Prison

One of the most unforgettable visits on the trip for me is when I met David outside of the mosque. Within five minutes of us meeting one another he started sharing stories about his stay in prison. He then cuts himself off and apologizes for having a big mouth.

“I talk too much.” he admits.

David is human like all of us and isn’t afraid to show it. His story about how he met his wife is one of the most incredible stories that we have ever found during our 30 Mosques trip. A must read.

Day 13: Little Rock, Arkansas – Lessons Learned

One of the most controversial posts this year came from my experiences in the Women’s side. Many people sadly missed my sarcasm in the writing and thought that I had forced my way into the women’s area. Just to set the record straight for those who still wonder, we had complete permission to go into the women’s side and all the photos have the women have been cleared.

Day 20: Plainfield, Indiana – Understanding the MSA Experience

Many Muslims have had very different experiences with the Muslim Students’ Association in their universities and colleges. I thought my experience of being stuck in a bubble was a unique one, but it turns out that many Muslims have also felt the same way.

Day 22: Washington, DC – Visiting A Gay Imam

Hands down, the most controversial post that 30 Mosques has ever made. Though we never said we agreed or accepted the Daaiyee Abdullah’s choices, we were thrown under the bus for empathizing with another Muslim. It was sad to see the lack of adab, Islamic values, people had when speaking about homosexuality.

Day 29: The Journey Of Arriving To America

Every time I see the photo of Fawaad and his son on an airplane, I can’t help but get goosebumps. The family is on their way to the US from a war ridden Congo. The mood of the photo is conflicting. There is uncertainty and concern riddled with hope and promise. It was one of the most vulnerable and honest photos I have ever seen.

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  • http://twitter.com/MarySueTwiteth Mary Sue

    Thank you so much for what you have done over the last three years giving an ever widening perspective of Islam to this West Coast city living, thirtysomething, queer, redneck Christian woman.

    Oh, and the rest of the Internet, even those who don’t want to hear the stories of those in their midst.

    Never doubt you do a good thing.

  • Qbee_61554

    I have to say thank you as well, I have learned a great deal and appreciate the beauty of Islam more than I had before.  I was so touched by the couple in South Dakota, their story brought me to tears I appreciate so much that they were willing to share their story with you so that you could share it with so many.  I guess my only other thought is that this is a blog and not a class on Islam 101 so I guess I am confused as to why the negative comments.  I understood blogs to be a grocery store approach, take what you want and leave the rest on the shelf.  The stories you shared, including your own, became stories my family and friends would share and discuss before, during, and after iftar during Ramadan.  Thank you so much and please be encouraged even if only one life was touched by what you have done! 

  • Kevin Glynn

    I feel lucky to have been able to follow your travels. You rightfully deserve to be mentioned with Charles Kuralt’s profiles around America, and the many other great traveller/writers. 

  • Atomic

    Whether or not you “accepted” or “agreed” with the Gay Imam’s choices is besides the point.  The point is you are indirectly promoting certain behavior which is deemed clearly un-Islamic by presenting it as “normal.”  Promoting and/or practicing open homosexuality and presenting it as normal is a form of extremism.  Just as you wouldn’t interview (and indirectly “normalize”) an individual who engaged in violent extremist behavior, so should you not indirectly promote other extreme behaviors -in this case individuals who claim that engaing homosexual behavior is permissible. 

    And come on, you can’t seriously claim to be surprised that you were “thrown under the bus” when covering a topic like this……seems like it was a bit of grandstanding on your part to cover a piece like this.  Perhaps more funding from Western media outlets for next year’s tour as a result?   

    The lesson of Lut in the Qur’an has multiple dimensions and the one that strikes a chord here is the lesson of Lut’s wife. Although she herself wasn’t engaged in what God considered an abomination, she was nonetheless considered an accomplice for her sympathies.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GGK6VBLJZPW62YF3B7TLY6PN3Y Blqh

    Wow this proves what hypocrites you are. Why even have a blog if you cant handle criticism, and have to resort to deleting legitimate comments.  Dont complain and play the victim when you’re instigating drama in order to get $$.   Pitiful anyway you look at it.

  • Esra

    The 30 mosques idea has been a great idea and I have enjoyed most of the posts I have seen. Thank you very much for the innovation and the initiative, may Allah bless you. I should also admit, in a friendly spirit that, the “Gay Imam” post was quite disappointing. Not that you acknowledged that such Muslims exist but it was surprisingly naive and unfair to expect that such a heated issue be treated in a cool headed manner. The idea of “disagree but respect” is simply incredible, it is like trying to bridge across a huge cliff. For, on the one hand, if homosexual attraction is  completely  beyond choice and is something that deserves empathy and respect, I do not see how you disagree with it? One would only get away with such a contradiction only because it is received by pro-gay camp as a step toward full recognition (just as gay marriage is seen as such a symbolic step, for after all marriage is not understood to be a proper venue by many homosexuals in the long run). On the other hand, if it is a situation to be resisted or healed, in light of Quranic principles, then I do not see what it means to respect the conscious insistence on practicing it, any more than you would respect incest, prostitution or any other deviant sexual attraction. It was a good journalism, no doubt at that. I just thought there was a deeper logic and sacred wisdom behind your posts, than a merely journalism, so I was taken aback by the post and your response to the criticism about it as lack of adaab.  I’d take this as a sign to sit and reflect on the overall purpose and engine of this travel. Just meant as a friendly feedback. wassalaam.

  • http://gotalphabetsinhere.blogspot.com/ hannaU

    I just simple love your page! :)

  • Shakib45

    certain people are best advised to keep their mouth shut, not because they make perfect sense but on the contrary, when they speak, they bray like a donkey. i think the prophetic idiom of “talking less and listening more” as an adab applies to you my friend, because you haven’t mastered any skill with which the world can benefit from except youself. peace bro.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GGK6VBLJZPW62YF3B7TLY6PN3Y Blqh

    Ahh the hypocrisy and foolishness, you ask the person who speaks the truth to stay quiet, and yet remain silent as they parade a heretic fool.  Well I am pleased to say the vast majority of the comments in response to this heretic spoke the truth about this topic, while only a few radical liberals and homosexuals spoke in favor.  I suspect you fit in that demographic nicely.  Ahamduallah Allah has protected us from the likes of those who seek to alter and corrupt our religion with nonsense. I find it amazing that those spewing heresy are somehow surprised they are not treated with so called Adab, perhaps when you stop trying to destroy the religion with your own personal perverse agenda people will treat you with the Adab a Muslim deserves.


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