The First 15 Days in Photos

By Bassam Tariq | 45 Comments »

Sitting in a hallway at Montana State University — with a broken car and draining laptop battery — I feel like it’s a good time to look back at some of the best moments and photos of our first 15 days on the road.

Day 1: Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood - A brother eats the break fast meal in a hurry since the adhaan, the call to prayer, was right around the corner.

Day 1: Ground Zero Mosque - Bored security guard reluctantly poses for the camera.

Day 2: Augusta, ME - Two young men spend the hour before break fast memorizing the Quran.

Day 2: Portland, ME - A Southern Sudanese boy stares me down in the playground.

Day 7: Charlotte, NC - The summer school program bulletin board displays the best artwork for different kids.

Day 8: En Route to Jacksonville, Fl - The welcoming Confederate man.

Day 9: Jacksonville, Fl - A kid jumps off the slide.

Day 9: Mobile, Alabama - After getting kicked out of the Islamic Society of Mobile, we all come to this nice restaraunt. Ayan, a 13 year old Kurd, breaks his fast at his family restaurant with Kurdish Biryani.

Day 10: New Orleans - AbdulRahman Zeitoun calls his son from the ladies section of the mosque

Day 11: Masjid Al Mu'mineen - Unfortunately, we had visited this mosque, but didn't have time to write a story about our experiences there. We'll get to it, one day.

Day 12: Oklahoma City, OK - Sarah goes down the slide in the playground near the mosque.

Day 14: Denver, Colorado - The brilliant Shaikh Abu Omar gets irritated by how close my camera is to his face and sticks his tongue out in hopes of ruining the photo. If only he knew how he saved it.

Day 15: Santa Fe, New Mexico - Rashid prepares a morning meal for Aman and I at the Taha Mosque. He spent the night at the mosque when he found out we'd be staying there.

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  1. September 2nd, 2010 | qa says:

    Haha, day 14 is THE best one :D

  2. September 2nd, 2010 | Missy says:

    What a magnificent journey! I wonder how you’ll feel looking back in 20 years at these photos and memories. Wishing you safe and car trouble free days ahead!

  3. September 2nd, 2010 | Shabana says:

    LOVE day 11 …….. with the 3 LOVELY hijabi’s!!!! which city was this in?

  4. September 2nd, 2010 | Aman and Bassam says:

    It was Houston. whoops. will add that

  5. September 2nd, 2010 | Alicia T. says:

    You guys are amazing. Saw your story on CNN and clicked on your site… what an amazing journey; it’s truly a refreshing and courageous (especially in the South!) effort. Wonderful way to honor such a blessed time such as Ramadan.

    I’m living vicariously through your experiences and sharing them with all I come in contact with regardless of our religious backgrounds; I check daily for updates.

    I’ve posted your website on my gchat status and everyone’s been commenting about it! (My graphic designer friends love your minimalist design layout!)

    I was surprised to see that you came across Mobile in your travels; it truly touched me. I was born there but have no memories (Navy brat growing up :)

    Safe and blessed travel,

    Your (Christian) Friend,

  6. September 2nd, 2010 | Kari says:

    I posted this comment on Facebook but I like it so well, I’m posting it again:

    Pamela Geller and her “friends” should be required to read this entire 30 days blog and then submit a 5,000 word essay on why they still think Islam is a threat to America.
    You guys are doing more in combatting the current climate of hate than all our big organizations combined, in my opinion. May Allah bless every mile you drive, every word you write and every beautiful photo you take.

  7. September 2nd, 2010 | MJ says:

    I really, really enjoyed these photos. Excellent job! I pray that you are able to resume your travels soon.

  8. September 2nd, 2010 | Ali Sina says:

    So it took an entire nine days and nine mosques to find one with overt ties to terrorists. I must thank you for bringing this to our attention. So the next question is how many have done a better job of disguising their ties to terrorism? It really shouldn’t be a surprise since the term “terror” we all use comes right out of the Quran. The terrorists are merely practicing Islam more perfectly. I have a great idea for your next trip promoting multicultural acceptance. Drive through Saudi Arabia and visit thirty churches, temples, synagogues, and humanist organizations in thirty days. If we accept your picture of Islam promoting a loving and open people, then this trip should be PR gold.
    Ok, so tell the truth; the islamic republic of Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow any other belief or non-belief systems does it. A ride like yours only works in an open and secular society. So if you think about it, you are taking advantage of an open and secular society to promote an ideology that creates a closed and oppressive society when given the chance (saudi Arabia, et al).

  9. September 3rd, 2010 | Najem Al Hasan says:

    Loved this post!! Masha Allah you both view the world around you with such admiration and respect. God bless – safe onward journey.

  10. September 3rd, 2010 | Najem Al Hasan says:

    Saudi Arabia is not as bad as you make out. Other religions are allowed to practice, whilst respecting the local traditions, culture and religion – just as we Muslims do here in the west. Very recently, the Vatican and Saudi’s met to discuss the possibility of opening a church in the Kingdom. I was brought up in Kuwait, where there was a great mixture of cultures and religions – including a small Jewish minority. So I do not agree with your viewpoint at all – Saudi might be an extreme view, don’t tar the rest of the Muslim world – most of which is practicing a moderate Islam – with the same brush.

    Viewing the world with such hatred and negativity will lead to nothing but sadness and depression. I for one am so pleased that Aman and Bassam are showing the world, with great success might I add, that Muslims are not a threat, nor are they terrorists. Just look at the media attention they have courted and how positively they have been portrayed.

    I also do not agree that the word “terror” comes straight out of the Quran – you have obviously not read the Bible in any great length or detail:

    Genesis 35:5
    The terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them.

    All religions that preach morality will have, at some point, touched on this type of abhorrent action, only to warn followers of its consequence.

    I pray that God (in whatever form) lights the love in your heart, Ali, to see the good in all we as human beings do to bring each other closer, instead of driving wedges between us. In particular, I hope and pray you see the good in what Aman and Bassam are doing.

    Just to clarify – I do not have the good fortune to know both guys personally, I too started following this blog via a news article I read online.

    And ofcourse, in the end, only God knows what is best.

  11. September 3rd, 2010 | Ali Sina says:

    You do not know me or my world view so I cannot fathom how you feel justified in slandering me with “viewing the world with such hatred and negativity”. Name calling is the last refuge of one with no argument of solid footing to stand on and you sunk to it so quickly! In your haste to vindicate Islam of it’s inherent ties and long repeating history of terrorism you impugn the Christian bible, yet another dogma of the dark ages based superstition. Yes, the bible, the new testament, and the quran which borrows heavily from both all contain plenty of terrible messages. How does this deflection vindicate the hateful and violent messages in the Quran? Well it doesn’t of course and it is a cheap ploy on your part. Since you offered a quotation from the Christian bible during our discussion of Islam I thought you might appreciate getting refocused on the Quran.
    “3:151 “We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve.”
    4:74 “Fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.”

    4:76 “Those who believe do battle for the cause of Allah; and those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols. So fight the minions of the devil.”
    4:91 “Take them and kill them wherever ye find them. Against such We have given you clear warrant.”
    8:12 “I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger.”
    21:97 “Behold them, staring wide in terror, the eyes of those who disbelieve!”

    The world can be a beautiful and wonderful place. Religions based on outdated superstitions do not own this experience. It is free for all to have. Faith means believing without reason. But reason is humankind’s greatest achievement. Reason truly frees us, yet religion demands we give up reason in trade for a sense of community and belonging. You can have community, you can have peace, you can have a sense of wonder and beauty all without having to forfeit your reason. Give yourself the gift of imaging a world not run by ancient dogmatic beliefs; you may find it the most positively beautiful experience of your life.

    Peace, but not at any price

  12. September 3rd, 2010 | Coolidge says:

    This is my reply to

    Ali Sina Reply:
    September 3rd, 2010 at 4:06 am.

    For some reason, the ‘ Reply ‘ button doesn’t appear under his comment dated above.

    Ok, firstly, he has taken the verses he quoted above out of context and has conveniently ignore those verses which speak of religious freedom, tolerance, peace and love.

    Not surprising, of course.

    For example, why doesn’t Ali Sina quote these verses

    Chapter 2 Al-Baqarah: 256: “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. ”

    Chapter 18 Al-Kahf: 29, which states: “The Truth is from your Lord: Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject it.”

    Chapter 29 Al-Ankabut : 46 “And do not argue with the People of the Book unless it be in a way that is better, save with such of them as do wrong. But say, ‘We believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you. Our God and your God is One; and it is to Him we submit (in Islam).’”

    In Chapter 60 Al-Mumtahana : 8 – ” God does not forbid you front being kind and equitable to those who have neither made war on you account of your religion nor driven you from your homes. God loves those who are equitable. ”

    And others including the verses which say ” Will you compel people against their will to believe ? ” and ” Your duty is only to convey the message. ”

    The question therefore is – why doesn’t Ali Sina quote these verses ?

    The answer is simple enough – either he is a bigot or he is ignorant.

    Indeed, that shows for example when he quoted 4 : 91 above, he conveniently failed to quote the verse in its entirety which would clarify what the verse is actually talking about. Don’t believe me ? Open the Quran and read the verses before 91.

  13. September 4th, 2010 | Ali Sina says:

    Name calling! You sink to the lowest level of discourse by avoiding the issues and calling me derogatory names. You chose to attempt a misdirection by referencing a quote from a holy book we were not discussing and I merely called you out on it. And for this your only response is name calling? Let us drop the quotes from the past and look at today. A news story appeared today that a popular Muslim cleric in Australia has called for he beheading of a politician in another country. Mind you, this is happening today, not 500 years ago. So let’s agree on something: there is no outcry from the Islamic world on his behavior, no demand that he be expelled from the “religion of peace”. Agree? Good. Now the big question….why? These calls for violence and acts of violence from members of Islam are common, yet no opposing voices are to be found. This clearly implies tacit approval of these demands and acts of violence. Why would anyone chose to be a member of qroup like that? Or is it not a choice?

    If you cannot move ahead with a civil conversation and drop the personal attacks, and other ploys such as diversion and misdirection then don’t bother. If you can add an intelligent response please do.

  14. September 5th, 2010 | Proud Idealist says:

    @Ali Sina

    Hello. Thanks for posing these questions in effort to understand Islam better and not blindly condemn.

    With regards to your statement “These calls for violence and acts of violence from members of Islam are common, yet no opposing voices are to be found”, I think that maybe you’re just not looking at the right places.

    Here’s a good site:

    While your concern with matters in Saudi Arabia is valid, I don’t think it fits anywhere in the spirit of what Bassam and Aman are doing. I think it’s safe to say that American Muslims are not at war with America itself. Aman and Bassam have no control whatsoever in Saudi Arabia’s policy…so I suggest we leave that all out of this page. The brothers are doing something good in America (and indirectly to the world), so we should take it as it is and not second-guess their intentions. Embrace the peace.

  15. September 6th, 2010 | qkhan says:

    Wow, even I as a Muslim did not know that there were so many condemnations made by Muslims. Thanks for the information, I will use it, learn from it and pass it on. Thanks

  16. September 8th, 2010 | Anonymous says:

    These are beautiful pictures. Keep doing what you are doing and I hope Allah rewards you for your endeavor to spread peace and fight ignorant misconceptions.

    God bless.

  17. September 10th, 2010 | Sarin Jalal says:

    Dear brothers, such an amazing story. Your experience is both an inspiration and learning experience. Wish you the very best and please continue to amaze us with your efforts.

  18. September 12th, 2010 | Murkho says:

    He is a riot if you ever personally meet him. May he live a long life.

  19. September 14th, 2010 | Proud Idealist says:

    Alhamdulillah :)

  20. September 16th, 2010 | Ali Sina says:,-three-monks-badly-injured-19466.html

    “300 Egyptian security forces storm monastery with tear gas, batons, and stones to seize building materials, seriously injuring monks”

    Because nothing — nothing! — says “Religion of Peace and Tolerance” quite like beating up on a bunch of monks!

    At issue here once again is the provision in Islamic law that forbids dhimmis, or non-Muslims subjugated under Islamic law’s holy protection racket, from repairing their houses of worship or building new ones, as notably described in the Pact of Umar.

    Dhimmitude and jizya are fully practiced in lands that are dominated by people practicing Islam. (for those that do not know these concepts, they mean non Muslims pay extra tax for the privilege of being discriminated against and being a second class citizen. These are institutional acts. Not the acts of “extremists”. They are committed by people who read the words in the Quran and live by them.
    Discrimination is as un-American as it gets. So the problem for the proper Muslim is how to be an American and a Muslim when they blatantly contradict. The answer is right in the Quran! The answer is “Taqiya” which is lying to non-Muslims until the point in time when the Muslim is in a place of power over the non-muslm.
    As immoral, unethical, and perverse as it sounds, it is right there in the book and it is in action all over the world.

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