Day 17, California, The Indo-Chinese Muslim Refugee Center

29
Aug
By Bassam Tariq | 72 Comments »

Understated moments. There are many. Here’s hoping you enjoy one or two of them.

Jesus Fliers

Tired and starting to feel a little hungry, we arrive in Santa Ana, California and began our search for this hidden Cambodian mosque. A large group of people are gathered near the mosque and are passing out fliers. They see Aman and I walking towards them and stop us.

“Hey brother,” one of the older man says.

I smile.

“We have this live concert tonight and would love it if you can come with us. There will be prayer and we’ll be celebrating Jesus.”

I take a flier from him, read it and tell him I’ll think about it.

A block over, I see an open courtyard and three Cambodian women wearing hijab sitting under a tree. Two young girls playing basketball, and a group of young guys hanging out in izaars. Looks like today is going to be an interesting day, I’ll have to take a rain check on that concert.

Two Shots and a News Special

Saleh does what he wants, when he wants.  This was made clear when he walked into the masjid, interrupting the conversation we were having with one of the elders in the community, and began grilling us with questions.

“So are you here to raise money?” he asked us.

Aman was quick to clear our name and plug our site. But at that point Saleh was disinterested and continued on his merry way.

He allowed me to take photos of him and looked at each photo after they were taken.

“I’ve been shot five times and I just got out of jail.”

No joke. One of the  community members was there when he got shot twice. The story goes something like this – Saleh’s home boy was being picked on by the rival Latin gang and Saleh didn’t like that. He confronted the crew alone and began throbbing punches at six to seven of them. Saleh was uncontrollable, knocking the Latin gang members like bowling pins. They couldn’t  stop this Cambodian juggernaut until a guy pulled out a pistol and shot him twice. bam bam and Saleh was on the ground.

Saleh was shot in the butt and leg. The ambulance and local new stations showed up in minutes. As the local news channel reported the shooting, Saleh waved and smiled at the camera as he was being transported into the ambulance. Getting shot in the buttocks and still cheesing for the camera? Yes, that is badassery.

That’s Brisk, Baby


Around the corner of the mosque, a kid walks around with a 20 oz. bottle of liquid.

“This is pee pee.” The kids tell me. He has a thick Spanish accent and smells his plastic bottle  with amusement. It looks more like iced-tea to me.

“It’s not piss,” his friend says.

“Smell it!” he yells.

After his friend smells it, the boy runs to me and makes me smell it. And yes, it is pee pee.

The question became less on if it’s pee-pee now and more on who urinated in that bottle?

“Dont look at me…” the kid with the unzipped pants holding the smelly bottle of piss says.

Doctor Who

Right after  Asr, the afternoon prayer, I sit around in the prayer room with some of the congregants. Their topic of discussion today: expansion.

Like every mosque we have visited in our trip, there were a lot of talks of expansion. The congregation looked small to me, and I wondered, do they really need to expand?

“We need more parking here. There is absolutely no place for parking.” Says Mohammad Saeed, the president of the Mosque. “that is why less people are coming to the mosque.”

Are there more Cambodians that come here for prayer?

“There are more than Cambodians that we have to look out for.”

So what’s keeping you all from expansion?

“I don’t think there is anyone in our mosque that makes more than 15 per hour,” Ghazali, a young man with a bluetooth headset that seemed conjoined to his ear, says, “there are no doctor’s here.”

The congregants nod their heads.

Dodging Shots


I see a man entering the mosque and wait for him to enter so I can take a great candid shot.  I begin snapping when he enters. AHHH!! The man screams and flings his back to the camera.

I freak out. Did I do something wrong?

“That is Harun, he is the masjid caretaker,” Mohammad Saeed, the president of the mosque, says, “he was hit by a claymore in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge. He is not all there. Please excuse him.”

The Grounds

The grounds right outside of the mosque is the center of the community. Two girls from the community play basketball without a goal. The goals break often which ends up making the grounds just an open concrete space.

Abdul Ghoni, I think

Abdul Ghoni halts in the middle of the playground near the mosque and starts doing push-ups. He does five, six, seven and then stands back up as if nothing happened. He is 27 years old and works at the local school. He cleans tables, picks up trash, and sweeps the floors. He tells me what he does with pride and dignity. Kareem, our local guide, tells me that Abdul Ghoni doesn’t miss a single prayer at the mosque.

I ask Abdul Ghoni to spell his for me. He thinks for a minute and asks for a piece of paper and a pen.

I hand him a black papermate pen from my back pocket. He starts shaking the pen furiously because it’s not working. I try scribbling on my hand to see if it works another surface and it doesn’t give in. We leave the pen alone and Abdul Ghoni goes his way. And I stay put speculating how to spell his name.

Courts

The basketball goals in the grounds of the mosque are broken all the time, so the kids sneak into the local elementary school to shoot around an hour before Maghrib.

Ayoub’s Truck



I have seen very few parked trucks that sell both funyuns and watermelons.  Ayoub, one of the pioneers of the community, runs this truck right outside his house.  Ayoub’s wife runs the truck and, surprising, the mobile store helps bring in a decent amount of income for the family. I ask him why he started the truck store.

Ayoub looks over at his wife and says, “Eh, it keeps her busy.”

Cambodian Doe


Forgive me, I have forgotten your name. I saw you standing in the distance as the sun was setting in this small neighborhood, where the majority of the congregants are either Cambodian or Hispanic. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take this photo.

It took me a while to find the right place for you to stand and then spent the next two minutes snapping away. Thank you for your patience. Also, you have very soft hands.

Great great great

Three generations old. She came when she was in her early 60′s. She walks around the community space. She sits under the shade of the tree waiting for her other friends to show up.

“The elders in our community are dying,” Mohammad Saeed, the president of the mosque tells us, “just last year, we lost five elders.”

The great great great grandmother looks over at the sun, patiently waiting for Maghrib, the time for break fast, to approach.

Food Time

Un-Pakistani


Looking for a place to sit with my dinner plate, I somehow end up next to a group of three Pakistani guys. We all look at each other and ask ourselves, “how did he end up here?”

After telling them about the 30 mosques project, I ask them how they got here.

Malik lives about 20 minutes away from here. There are three other mosques that are closer to him, but goes out of his way to come here.

“There is no politics here. No elitism. There is none of those things that are found at the local Pakistani mosque. Everyone here is unassuming,” Malik says.

“Really?”

“Yeah! In those Pakistani mosques the doctors sit here, the engineers here, and the cab drivers here. Over here, there is none of that. No one will ask you what you do for a living and everyone sits together.”

After Malik said that, I couldn’t help but wonder what he did for a living — it must be Pakistani in me.

Matt, er, Mohammad Saeed



“I don’t feel like vacuuming,” Mohammad says after we break our fast, “I’ll just do it tomorrow.”

Outside of the community, Mohammad goes by Matt Ly. He is the el jeffe of the center. A stout, but muscular man who watches over the entire mosque operations. He stares at the carpet, picking up small pieces of lint and crumbs of food with his hands.

Mohammad’s uncle was one of the first Muslim Cambodian refugees in 1979. He sponsored 17 Cambodian families and brought them to the states. This was considered one of the first emigrations of the Cambodian Muslims to the states. When the families first came from Cambodia they started in different cities and went their own ways. A small community  ended up in Santa Ana and established this mosque in 1982. Soon enough, the Santa Ana community began calling all the Cambodian Muslims convincing them to settle here in Santa Ana.

The brutal communist regime, Khmer Rogue, had killed and tortured many in Cambodia. Religion wasn’t allowed, so the Cambodian Muslims would pray secretly and hold small Friday prayer services. They all had an incredibly difficult time and went through it together. So when many of them settled in the States, it made sense for them to live amongst one another and heal together.

Mohammad was 17 when he escaped Cambodia. After things finally calmed down, he went back to Cambodia in hopes of staying, but ended up coming back to the States. His family is here, his work is here.

“When I leave to a different state, I miss California because, you know, it is home.”

Mohammad pauses.

“But when I go back to Cambodia my heart rises and I don’t want to be anywhere else.”

Mohammad gets up, heads towards a closet and comes out with a vacuum.

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Comments

72
  1. August 29th, 2010 | Asad says:

    Salams another great post by you guys. A heart touching post about the community its hardships and how pakistanis run here to avoid politics and elitism. Keep up the great work looking forward to the next post.

  2. August 29th, 2010 | Jamal says:

    This is the one, Bassam. Mash’Allah.

  3. August 29th, 2010 | Urooba says:

    Love LOVE reading these posts, but you already knew that.

  4. August 29th, 2010 | Z says:

    I’ve lived in Socal for my entire life and I never knew about this community. Thank you for this post.

  5. August 29th, 2010 | Rashed says:

    I didn’t even know there were Muslims in Cambodia before reading this post. Thanks for telling us something new everyday, guys.

  6. August 29th, 2010 | Mary says:

    Beautiful story. I did not know that there was a Muslim community in Cambodia. I hope that they find the USA to be a good place to put down roots.

  7. August 29th, 2010 | Souzan says:

    Absolutely love the style in which this post was written.
    God Bless.

  8. August 29th, 2010 | Amena Khan says:

    Damn. You guys are just making me realize how gigantic this world really is. I mean Cambodia! Who knew? I am familiar with the ‘Made in Cambodia’ phrase, that I often see on clothes. Haha. Loved the Abdul Ghoni’s name & pen part. Haha.

  9. August 29th, 2010 | Michael Gatto says:

    Cool; I ended up at this mosque 15 Ramadans ago when I first moved to Orange County. I didn’t even know what it was at first and had to double check the address. It was about as ramshackle then as it is now. They are better off like this; all the mosque atmospheres I ever loved were the ramshackle ones held together with duct tape and loving iman.

  10. August 29th, 2010 | Musa says:

    asalaamalaikum!

    Great pictures and stories!
    I’ve been reading this blog about every day ever since I remembered last years 30 mosques blog. I really feel like I know this place now.

    musa

  11. August 29th, 2010 | Abdulkareem As says:

    hey Bassam & Aman,

    Thanks for covering our masjid. Our masjid needed a little publicity because not a lot of people know about this masjid. Thanks to you guys, people are starting to notice how small the world really is. Have an awesome trip back to New York guys.

  12. August 29th, 2010 | Njay says:

    MashaAllah this is a really amazing blog. I didn’t know there were Muslims in Cambodia!

  13. August 29th, 2010 | Mehdi says:

    The most touching post I have read yet :)

  14. August 29th, 2010 | Dilawar Ali Khan says:

    Excellent pictures and very focused and to the point story,very well done Bassam,this tops every other post so far.Stay safe and God Bless you guys.

  15. August 30th, 2010 | Adeel says:

    This is money. You really transported us there, loved it. Feels like just yesterday we bid you adieu at Park51 and here you are 2/3 done already masha’Allah. See you guys soon insha’Allah.

  16. August 30th, 2010 | Bassam Tariq says:

    Thanks Dilawar Mamoo!

  17. August 30th, 2010 | amir ali says:

    amazing post. really great work you guys are doing, but this one in particular was truly moving. really gave us an accurate and intimate picture of this great masjid and its community. mashAllah.

  18. August 30th, 2010 | Aishah says:

    Asalaamu Alaikum

    I know they put out a video years ago but forgot the title. Maybe you can find out. But I did find this. I remember the video said that they couldn’t practice islam so they used to do wudu under the water.

    http://bangsacham.com/Chamaroundtheworld/ChamMuslim_Infocusnews/ChamMuslim_JourneyofFaith_Infocusnews.pdf

  19. August 30th, 2010 | Fazal says:

    awesome stories

  20. August 30th, 2010 | Camille Mahdi says:

    I don’t feel as bad for reading through and thinking “I didn’t know there were Muslims in Cambodia.”, since it seems no one else did either! This is wonderful, I am learning so much thanks to this blog!

  21. August 30th, 2010 | Aman and Bassam says:

    Wow. Thanks for sharing the link, Aishah.

  22. August 30th, 2010 | Gerald says:

    Hey guys!

    Just wanted to send you a thumbs up! I am Christian and think that what you are doing is speaking mounds for what people of EVERY faith should be doing. You are exploring, adventuring, spreading hope and showing tolerance (only to mention a few). God be with you and open your hearts to recieve wisdom and He keeps you safe!

    Gerald

  23. August 30th, 2010 | Dave says:

    Excellent post, excellent blog. Thanks for giving this atheist a timely reminder to keep his own prejudices in check.

    Best of luck with the remainder of your journey.

  24. August 30th, 2010 | Jeff says:

    Just read the article about what you two are up to on CNN…Keep up the good work!
    The world needs more people that are willing to work to encourage tolerance and understanding. There is more that binds us together than tears us apart!!

  25. August 30th, 2010 | L says:

    Beautiful site, beautiful photos, beautiful stories! I wish you well on your journey!

  26. August 30th, 2010 | Stephanie says:

    I love your blog and your story. I’m enjoying getting to ‘come along’ and see places I’ve never seen before and learn a bit about your faith. I’m sure you’ll start getting even more traffic as CNN has linked your website in their online story. That’s how I found you anyway!

    I hope you guys consider making this journey into a documentary. It just seems so perfect for a doc. You’ve gotten a lot of press, so maybe the media inertia can help with funding a film?

    This is a wonderful and important project! Your writing is honest and funny – really great stuff!

    Be safe and best wishes!

  27. August 30th, 2010 | Melissa says:

    Hello,
    I found your site via the CNN article “Ramadan road trip”. I am so happy that you are doing this road trip and blog. I am not Muslim, I am not Christian, I am not Jewish… I am not religious at all but I am American. You’re American. The angry people screaming to move the NYC mosque are American too. Hopefully your work will help a few of us to see that we have many things in common and less dividing us than they think.

    Good luck, safe travels and a big warm thank-you!

  28. August 30th, 2010 | MM` says:

    What a wonderful message of tolerance and peace. You are building bridges and creating understanding with your words and your actions. Wishing you a safe journey.

  29. August 30th, 2010 | Aiswarya says:

    I just read the article about your journey so far, and I think that this is an extremely cool thing to do. I’m definitely telling my Muslim (and non-Muslim as well)friends about this. And possibley just about everyone else. Good luck on the rest of your trip:)
    Btw, Bassam, are you Pakistani? Just wondering.

  30. August 30th, 2010 | Aiswarya says:

    I just spelled “possibly” wrong. Whoops.

  31. August 30th, 2010 | Paul Henderson says:

    Just read about you guys on CNN. Nice work! The value of your experience, while great for me and everyone who reads about it, is immeasurable to you.

    I’m an atheist father of two young children who lives in Chicago. I intend to encourage my children as they get a little older to seek enlightenment through broadening their understanding of people everywhere. My hope is that they will do as you’re doing, meeting people face to face, and not try to gather information from a computer screen. It’s in this way only that they’ll see, regardless of faith or philosophy, we are all simply human, bound by our humanity.

    Where this will lead them, I don’t know. Their lives are entirely theirs to lead. But nobody should form opinions about others through information received second-hand, either from teachers or clerics, politicians or priests, rabbis or revolutionaries… Framing an opinion for another person is a completely self-serving act. To form an opinion of your own, however, through a first-hand experience like the one you’re having, is something that no one can put a price on.

  32. August 30th, 2010 | Christine says:

    I found your site from an article on CNN, and idle curiousity led me to read your entries in their entirety. It’s a wonderful thing you are doing. I have to confess that I had hard feelings about the ground zero mosque because I felt that it was being built there intentionally – to show contempt for the US and celebrate the bombings.

    What your blog has done for me: it has reminded me that you, and the Muslims in New York building the mosque, are all Americans like me. I imagine that many of those same Muslims must have lost their loved ones during the attack, too. And if building a mosque at ground zero revitalizes a run down area, and serves as a reminder to the community that not all Muslims did this horrific act, then a great thing will have been accomplished. I just hope that people (media/politicians) with louder voices can explain what I just realized through your blog – to the others who are suffering and not understanding. What will be, will be.

    For me, I want to apologize for forgetting that not all people should be judged on the actions of the few. Thank you for your blog, life is much too short to live with unreasonable anger/resentment.

  33. August 30th, 2010 | Aman and Bassam says:

    Hey Aiswarya, Yes I’m from Pakistan!

  34. August 30th, 2010 | Annie says:

    I just wanted to say that what the two of you are doing is amazing. And your story-telling abilities deserve an A+!

    And being from a refugee family myself (and also growing up in the city right next door to Santa Ana), I definitely feel for my fellow human beings and am glad that you’re undertaking such a fascinating project.

    Keep up the great work! Perhaps soon, we will find peace in this country for all faiths and all peoples.

  35. August 30th, 2010 | Marcia Morrison says:

    I lived in Santa Ana 30 years ago, never stopped to think about the refugees, whether they were Muslim or Christian or whatever. I only saw the unfamiliar writing on tiny grocery stores, never thought they might have their own mosques & religious communities. Duh. I think there’s a lot I didn’t think about back then. Thank you so much for a “mosaic” portrait of this mosque.

  36. August 30th, 2010 | alove says:

    how time flies, to see the children of this community now that they are grown, to see the middle aged now the elders..where does that place me, growing older too, Allah says: those who practice patience and perservence…it is nice to see the small, modest masjids continuing on, may Allah bless the ummah with the determination to stand up for right and forbid that which is wrong, may Allah bless all of humanity with faith in HIM. Ramadan Mubarak, nearing the end…may we do the best we can as we may not pass this way again…though there may not be doctors in the immedicate community, i do know that many of the children of this community have continued to higher education, and Allah willing they will return to where they came from and help to advance their neighborhood…as salaam alaykum, peace to all of humanity,draishalove,phd, pss…i truely miss cham food and the jumuuhs…

  37. August 30th, 2010 | nora says:

    that was such an epic post…mad props, mashaAllah

  38. August 31st, 2010 | Aishah says:

    You’re welcome!

  39. August 31st, 2010 | Khaleelah says:

    Great article. My family and I come from this community. One suggestion the Muslims in this article are actually the indigenous Cham people, not Cambodian.

  40. August 31st, 2010 | Anonymous says:

    there cham not cambodian

  41. August 31st, 2010 | sharifa porome says:

    This is a very good post.. But I would like to clear something up. these people are not cambodian… They are cham from cambodia.

  42. August 31st, 2010 | Po Rofek says:

    Salaam,

    Wow! I grew up in Santa Ana. This was an interesting post and I very much enjoyed reading about it, even though this was a community that I grew up in. Also, I wanted to comment on the cultural inaccuracies that were presented in the blog.

    You labeled us as Cambodians (which is inaccurate). Our community are refugees from Cambodia, BUT, we are not Cambodians. Our ethnic background is Cham. A huge misconception is that “Cham” means Khmer Islam or Cambodian Muslim. This misconception has its roots in Cambodia’s Prime Minister labeling Chams as “Khmer Islam”. It is very common for Chams to say that we are Cambodian (or Vietnamese, Indonesian, Malaysian, depending on which country we came from) because it is easier. When people ask us who we are, I tell them that I’m Cham and their replies are usually like “huh? whats that?” To divert from this, many Chams will say that they are Cambodian because its easier to say a few words than to try and explain it like I’m doing now LOL.

    In short, Chams are desecendants of people from a land called Champa, whose former territories include South Vietnam and the Central Highlands. Champa existed in the early centuries BC up to 1832, when the Vietnamese emperor Minh Meng decided to wipe Champa off the map and integrate it within his Vietnamese Empire. The resulting diaspora sent us to many countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, and Cambodia, which hosts the biggest Cham community.

    But anyways, I just wanted to let you guys know that we are Chams, and we are ethnically related to Malaysians, Indonesians, and Filipinos. You can call them our ethnic cousins.

    Many of these readers were unaware of Cambodia hosting Muslim populations. Now these readers will know that there exist an ethnic group of people, Chams.

    Aside from all that, I enjoyed your post very much and look forward to reading about your other “pit stops”. When I get home I’m going to start with Day 1. This is truly an amazing adventure you guys have taken on. May Allah bless your journey and make your return back home safe.

    After reading all of the comments, I am impressed how your trip made people see Islam in a different light, truly this trip has done more than given us insights into local Masjids around the States. I see people opening up to Islam and I am grateful that your efforts has indirectly opened the hearts of these poeple. Thank you.

    One last thing, out of all the Masjids in Orange County, what made you pick Santa Ana? Thanks for the post.

  43. August 31st, 2010 | Sayem says:

    Nice post about the Cham masjid in Santa Ana. I’m glad that you guys decided to go to this masjid instead of the bigger ones nearby in Irvine or Garden Grove.

    I live close to this community and go there every now and then. This is such a unique and beautiful community. I absolutely love the people there and the peculiar smells of Cham cuisine that emanates from the nearby houses. They’ve banana trees in this community, which I’ve never seen here in Southern California. Good job, but you could’ve done without the pee part.

  44. August 31st, 2010 | Bahry says:

    Salaam Sayem – just an interesting fact for you… the banana trees you’re referring to originated from Cambodia. Someone in the community traveled back home (Cambodia) a few years back and brought back the root and planted it. (Fast forward) Now, most of the families here have it growing in their yard. Next time you get a chance, try asking one of the elder ladies for a taste of the banana… it’s really good.
    (I agree, the pee part wasn’t necessary.)

  45. August 31st, 2010 | Bahry says:

    Great job nephew! Representing us properly!

  46. August 31st, 2010 | Bahry says:

    I agree. This is definitely documentary worthy.

  47. September 1st, 2010 | MJ says:

    Salaams, I enjoyed this post. I had never heard of the Cham people before. I agree that the urine story wasn’t needed. May Allah keep you safe on your journey.

  48. September 1st, 2010 | Sayem says:

    Walaykum As’salam Bahry,
    Jazakum Allah Khair for the insight on Banana trees. I’d definitely love to get some when I’m there, Insha’Allah.
    Have a blessed Ramadan and happy Eid.

    Sayem.

  49. September 1st, 2010 | Halymah says:

    Salaams & Jazak’Allah for this post!

  50. September 1st, 2010 | Khadjiah says:

    What a wonderful project!

    Thank you for this post! It is much refreshing to see communities like this.

    I am from Malaysia, and I think more people need to know that Muslims are not just limited to Arabs or brown people.

    Bravo.

    When are you coming to Chicago/IL?

  51. September 2nd, 2010 | Mrs SM says:

    @ Khadjiah, you need to check at ‘The Route’ up above.

    I’m from Singapore. Did you know that the Chicago Malaysian Association will host the Eid gathering on the 9/18. check this link; http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=142567179088295

  52. September 2nd, 2010 | Mrs SM says:

    I like the UN-Pakistani part. Wow! I find that the working-class Pakistanis are more friendly than those belong to the “up-scale” groups. They will greet us, while the “up-scale” Pakistani will just walk past us and stay among their kind.

    Long live the Cham! You people are doing great, may Allah shower you people with more blessings, ameen…

  53. September 2nd, 2010 | Aiswarya says:

    Cool, I have Muslim friends from Pakistan. South Asians are awesome people, I have come to know. I’m one too, if you haven’t guessed by my name. If that sounded rather vain, it wasn’t meant to be. By the way, you are an extremely good writer. Adios, and have fun:)

  54. September 2nd, 2010 | shahi esfelazi says:

    Salam from Malaysia,

    Just like to share some knowledge on Cambodian Muslims or the Cham People. In South East Asia, the Cham People who are mainly Muslims are called Melayu-Champa or Malay-Chams. The speak a Malay Dialect close to the of the Achenese Malay from the now Autonomous Acheh State in Indonesia. It is believed that the Acheh-Malays were once part the diaspora of the Cham-Malays and were able to establish a state on the northern point of the island of Sumatera.

    The once State of Champa which covered mainly Vietnam and Cambodia was thrown into tatters at the waves of Viet, Tai, Hmong and Khmer People coming in from South China. The same impact was felt by the Patani-Malays of Southern Thailand however unlike the Patani-Malays, the Cham-Malays mostly fled and were not able to hold their ground after several waves of persecution.

    The Cham-Malays are a very old people and even the wars between the Khmers and the Chams are recorded on the walls of the Temples of Angkor Wat. After the coming of Islam, the records of the Muslim Cham-Malay Empire are found in Malay Literature such as the Malay Annals (As-Salatus As-Salatin) and the Annals of Kelantan-Patani (Hikayat Kelatan-Patani). A part mythical part historical story named Hikayat Siti Zubaidah explores the exploits of Princess names Siti Zubaidah who went to war with China (a sort of a Muslim Mulan). The tale even mentions the name of the Cham-Malay country as Kembayat-Desa or Kemboja-Desa.

    Despite having such a long & colourful history, the Cham-Malays are in a sad state today. The Cham-Malays in Cambodia lives mostly in poverty and lacking basic needs – though help does come in from Malaysia in form of funds and even qurban meat but more needs to be done.

    The Diaspora of the Cham-Malays are also facing the same challenges. Even in a Muslim country like Malaysia the refugees status does not allow them to legally find work, the only way for them to survive is to beg for food and hope for government funding on refugee shelters.

    I pray that more Muslims become aware of our Cambodian/Champa brothers and help this jewel of a community.

    Salam.

  55. September 2nd, 2010 | H Naderi says:

    this post is gorgeous. just simply beautiful.

    may God bless this community, may He help us all and have Mercy on us all.

  56. September 3rd, 2010 | Laila says:

    Thank you for featuring South East Asian emigrants. As a Muslim in Singapore, it is interesting to see SEAsian settlers in the States.

  57. September 3rd, 2010 | Aman and Bassam says:

    thanks haroon.

  58. September 5th, 2010 | Michael says:

    If you get the chance, you should stop by Olympia, WA and take pictures of the Cham community there. They have a really cool community with a large cul de sac and a mosque in the middle.

  59. September 5th, 2010 | Abdulrozaq says:

    I was excited when I heard about my childhood community being publicized. Growing up in this neighborhood was not as rough as it may be today. There was Unity, brotherhood and lots of memories. I recently got back from Japan and remembered going into the mosque located 10 minutes away from the Shibuya JR train station in Tokyo. Never knew there were Muslims and mosques there. As a traveler, I intend to visit more mosque and ultimately make my way to Mecca.

    Keep up the good work fellowz.. wasalamz

  60. September 6th, 2010 | Kampung Bunga Mas says:

    Agreed.

    I am from Kelantan, a Malaysian state in the north-eastern part of the Malay Peninsular, where the Chams have been visiting for centuries and also found refuge during the Khmer Rouge regime.

    For the note, the biggest concentration of Muslims in the World is in the Southeast Asia and NOT the Middle East. There are sizeable Muslim populations in Thailand both North and South, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, Brunei, Singapore, Burma and of course, Indonesia.

  61. September 6th, 2010 | H Naderi says:

    Sorry that was a weird comment, i re-read it at that point and was filled with so much emotion i couldn’t say anything but that. what i meant to say is that this post is so beautiful because I feel like you were able to capture some notion of the essence of this community by the pictures and small stories of these beautiful people.

    they’re simply just human, trying to do their best in this country and trying to do their best by their Lord. and somehow you were able to capture that perfectly.

    Harun’s story hit a nerve for me, his reaction was just so real and so raw because of his terrible experience. its so crazy how we don’t have any kind of point of reference for the kind of experiences he must have had but somehow we still know it’s real.

    These people are beautiful. Of all the masajid you could’ve went to in cali and socal thank you for going to this masjid and letting us know about this gem of a community. may God bless them, may God bless you guys, may God bless this country.

  62. September 8th, 2010 | Aisha says:

    you just made me google History of Islam in Cambodia! Kudos bros!
    Peace!

  63. September 9th, 2010 | Layla says:

    Wonderful post. It really warmed my heart. I had no idea there were Cambodian Muslims. Next time I’m in Cali, I’m going to visit that Masjid, if Allah Wills.

  64. September 11th, 2010 | Sumaya says:

    LOL!!!!!!!!! Kids will be kids, eh? The boy with the pee-pee and the Cambodian bad-ass and Ayoub and ur Cambodian doe – all conspired to make me chuckle :D Thanks for the Eid laugh.

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

    tebrik ederim arkadaşlar çok güzel bir islam mozaiği sergilemişsiniz turkey e de bekleriz.

  66. October 10th, 2010 | SALEH MATH says:

    ALRIGHT THEN BROTHERS AMAN ALI AND BASSAM TARIQ NICE PAGE HERE BUT THE PHOTO, ABOVE I EXPECTED IT TO LOOK A LIL CUTER, IF BASSAM CAN PUT A CUTER ONE UP, IT WOULD BE REALLY NICE…..HMMMMM BRB

  67. October 10th, 2010 | SALEH MATH says:

    THE CAMBODIAN BAD ASS IS NOT ACTUALLY WHAT HE LOOKS LIKE IN THE PICTURE…IF COMMENTS LIKE BADASS AND ALL COMMENTS REPEATEDLY PLEASE TAKE IT DOWN….

  68. October 13th, 2010 | Usman says:

    HAHAHHAHAH!!! Ayoub’s truck!! “….eh…it keeps her busy..’ haahahhahahhahahhaaha OOOOOH MAAAN that was funny! :D

  69. November 19th, 2010 | mark says:

    cool man…i’m indonesian…
    nice blog..Allah bless u all

  70. January 28th, 2011 | MUSLIM says:

    TRULY STORIES LOVE READ IT AGAIN .THE GUY WHO LEAVE COMMENT ABOVE TO TAKE PICTURE DOWN IS SALEH MATH HIS PICTURE AT THE TOP WITH BULL HEAD

  71. January 28th, 2011 | ALI says:

    LOVE TO READ MORE STORY ABOUT CHAM COMMUNITY IN SATA ANA

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