Day 1 – New York, Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood (Pt. 1)

By Bassam Tariq | 19 Comments »

Imam Talib smiles with the welcolm back poster outside the entrance of Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood

It was nice to be welcomed back to the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood (MIB) with its trademark green cement. We visited this mosque last year during our NYC trek. It was one of the most hospitable and historical centers we visited, so it made sense to start our 30 States adventure from here.

For those who don’t know, the green sidewalk marks the territory of the mosque — a safe zone — and, back in the day, when this neighborhood wasn’t the safest (“when crack was king”), it was the sidewalk where folks knew not to mess around.  As the infamous tale goes, a drunkard was stumbling around the streets of Harlem. He was about to pass out when he saw himself on the green cement and dragged himself to the gray part – where he did pass out.

The divide between the green and gray concrete.

Today, Al-Jazeera was scheduled to meet up with us at the mosque. I reached MIB  around 7 p.m. and the camera crew was already waiting.

Khalid, the reporter from Al Jazeera, sat outside of the stairs with his camera man waiting for us to arrive. One of the additions of this trip, that I’m not sure how I really feel about, is the extra media attention this adventure is getting. Of course, the ground zero fiasco and the numerous conflicts on mosque constructions around the US has added another dimension to our project. And that’s exactly what the direction Khalid, bless his heart, was trying to go into. And how can you blame him?

Khalid, the Al Jazeera reporter, waits patiently for iftaar outside the steps of MIB.

Imam Talib wasn’t able to join us for long as he had to go to the downtown prison to lead Taraweeh prayers. But he did put up a nice poster outside welcoming us. (top picture)

Aman and I finally came together a little bit before prayer.  Less than six weeks ago, there was no real plan for traveling around the country. I was overseas, while Aman was holding down the fort ironing out the project’s logistics. I got back into the country last weekend and it was only two days ago that Aman and I reunited under the kind company of dosas and samosas.

After prayer, we broke our fast with dates. For dinner, there was fried fish, yellow rice, string beans and salad. Khalid, the Al Jazeera reporter, packed up at this point and began to head out.

Food porn, the first of many shots.

Khalid with congregants during dinner inside the prayer area.

Before heading out, I had to grab some CDs of Shaykh Alama Tawfeeq’s Quran recitation.  I shared this story last time we visited MIB, but I think it’s just as relevant now as it was then. What makes this recording of the Quran so important is that it’s said to be one of the first recordings of an American Muslim reciting the Quran.  Shaykh Alama Tawfeeq wasn’t known for his recitation nor was he a haafiz, one who has memorized the Quran. But instead, he did it because he wanted to show that it can be done.

I understand that it would be ridiculous to channel Shaykh Alama Tawfeeq for our 30 States trek, but maybe we are trying for something that is equally important and ridiculous. Why else do anything?

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  1. August 12th, 2010 | BQ says:

    Alhmeduliallah,glad to see your first iftar adventure a great success. Congrats on the hits from the media, and the food looks delicious.

    JazkumAllah Khairen for mentioning the interesting story about Shaykh Alama Tawfeeq. I checked the M.I.B. website and reading more about the Skaykh and the center.

    Best of luck on tomorrow’s adventures, inshaAllah!
    (May the force be with you)

  2. August 12th, 2010 | Jean says:

    For those of us who aren’t Muslim, could you please tell us what the significance of Ramadan is? I know that it lasts a month and that you fast during the daylight hours, but other than that, I don’t know what its purpose is. What does Ramadan Mubarak translate to in English…Merry Ramadan? Happy Ramadan?

  3. August 13th, 2010 | Haroon Moghul says:


    Ramadan is the 9th month of the Muslim calendar, and Ramadan Mubarak translates into ‘(Have A) Blessed Ramadan’. Baraka is the Arabic root for blessing (like Barack Obama, or, yes, Ehud Barak, since Arabic and Hebrew are related.) Ramadan is the most “sacred” month of the lunar Muslim calendar.

    You might want to check out this series for more:

    One of the first contributions:

    Bassam, Aman, this is awesome as always. I’m glad you’re getting so much attention. One day this is going to be a movie, a documentary and a history channel special… mashallah.

  4. August 13th, 2010 | Fazal says:

    awesome al JA-zeera interview way to go guys.
    also post some pictures of your road trip like when you are traveling on the highway. :)

  5. August 13th, 2010 | WorldyMuslimah says:

    Great idea!. I look forward to reading your articles.

    Check out

  6. August 13th, 2010 | MissFluffy says:

    Mubarak comes from the word Baraka which means blessing. So it means have a blessed Ramadan or prosperous Ramadan

  7. August 13th, 2010 | Anonymous says:

    That food makes me hungry. I wish that I’d joined u guys but it was nice to see y’all the other day. Imam Talib gave me a copy of that CD as well. The are so many stories that he can share that it’s amazing. A modern day guru.

    Al-Jazeera should interview him too to learn more about the history of Islam in America.

    Happy and safe travels to you both!

  8. August 13th, 2010 | rehan says:

    am i the only one who thought of this?

  9. August 14th, 2010 | Bassam Tariq says:

    ha, no bhai. I think of that theme song every time I visit MIB.

  10. August 17th, 2010 | Anonymous says:

    I would to hear a clip of Shaykh Alama Tawfeeq’s Quran recitation.

  11. August 19th, 2010 | Brian Jones says:

    I think the reference to Porn in your entry ” Food Porn” is totally unislamic and please modify that as soon as possible. One does not want to give the wrong impression to people visiting this site. I dont need to express Al-Islam position on Porn. Thank you kindly May Allah bless you for your efforts.

    Food porn, the first of many shots.

  12. August 22nd, 2010 | Suad Alhalwachi says:

    this is good work, but i thought that when one travels in ramadan one should not fast “those who are sick or travelling should fast when they are well or return back” omm, i dont know i must ask about this

  13. August 22nd, 2010 | Tony says:

    About the NYC mosque…this is an easy one to sort out!

    When that Danish cartoonist depicted Mohammad…and when Salmon Rusdie wrote his books…Moslems the world over were upset (to say the least!!!). But these incidents were LEGALLY done, regardless of the sensibilities of Moslems.

    What’s the DIFFERENCE in New York??? Aren’t New Yorkers EQUALLY entitled to be upset???

    This is a case of whether or not Moslems have GOOD MANNERS. Nothing more and nothing less.

  14. August 23rd, 2010 | Rashed says:


    Fasting during Ramadan is meant to teach Muslims to be more conscious of God. When you voluntarily deprive yourself of basic necessities like food and drink during daylight hours, you become more aware about the ultimate source of not just food and drink, but of all the blessings in your life. You realise the extent to which you are dependent on God every moment of your life. And you thus hopefully develop a greater awareness of the presence of God in your life, and can build a closer relationship with Him.

  15. August 25th, 2010 | Fahd Hussein says:

    (i am of course in no way an authority and forgive me if i state something wrong)

    Keeping a Roza (or a fast) is also NOT JUST not eating or not drinking. A Roza is truly successful if you spend it having abstained from food, drink, anger, lying, violence, and basically any impurity in thought or action.

    You mess up your fast if you shout an obscenity at the driver who cuts into your lane abruptly while driving, you look at a lingerie model and go ‘whoa nice!’ or if you lie to somebody at the workplace or at a customer, or if you let a minor irritation anger you.

    In fact from personal experience i can say the abstinence from food and drink is one of the easier facets of fasting. I have heard (again i beg forgiveness if i am wrong) that if a person can keep even ONE TRULY SUCCESSFUL fast in their entire life keeping all these tenets in mind, he or she is definitely blessed and “heaven” as we refer to it shall be theirs. Not an easy task, i might add :)

  16. September 4th, 2010 | mukarrum says:

    I completely agree. Please be more tasteful in the way you describe things. I decided to read this blog just now so I started with day one. But to be honest, if you are making an Islamic blog on mosques, use more beautiful descriptions to describe our gratitude to Allahs bounty which he has provided us.

  17. September 30th, 2010 | thy bilet fiyatları says:

    selamın aleyküm arkadaşlar gerçekten güzel bir blog oluşturmuşsunuz allah sizden razı olsun türkiyeye de gelin camilerimizi çekin

  18. December 1st, 2011 | says:

    Thanks for it !!!

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