Third live chat was a blast! If you missed it, no worries, click the “More” button to relive the party
With everything going on at home, I couldn’t bear being away from my family any longer. So instead of celebrating Eid alone in NYC, I decided to hop on a plane at the last minute and fly out to surprise my family. My Mom’s reaction was priceless. After Eid prayer, it is customary in my family to hit up as many houses as possible for brunches then ending off the
Dr. Mahboubul Hassan has one arm. A freak sports injury as a child forced his left arm to be amputated. He said it was God’s plan for something better in his life. “Look at me, I’m the best racquetball player in this community,” he said with an earnest grin. “I’m also the best at table tennis. Just watch, after prayer, I will destroy everyone.” He wasn’t kidding. Once prayer finished,
Ibtihaj Muhammad stares me down as I lace up my Puma sneakers and grasp my fencing sabre. One of us is a world-class fencer training for the U.S. Olympics team. The other has played a Star Wars lightsaber game a few times on Nintendo Wii. The five-point match begins. I dash forward and my sabre grazes her side. I’m stunned I was able to score a point on her, but
Freeway puckered his lips and stroked his fleecy facial hair as I asked him about the purple “Billionaire Beards Club” shirt he was wearing. Breaking out in the hip-hop scene on Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella label in the early 2000s, his distinct look brands an image into your brain just as much as his rhymes. “I’m a Muslim,” he said. “So this beard, it’s an attribute of a Muslim. It’s a
Note: To ensure the safety and privacy of these women, they put on face veils and used different names in this interview to not reveal details about their identity. Saima came to the U.S. from Pakistan for marriage. For lack of a better phrase, she went through four years of hell. “I was in a different country and didn’t know the language,” she said in Urdu to me. “I had
My sincere apologies to the kid I almost shot in the face with these fireworks, lol.
Welcome to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. You may have read about it or seen the CNN documentary about how a fringe group of local residents are trying to derail plans for building a mosque here. The construction site for the mosque has even been subject to arson and vandalism. I was more interested though in finding out what was happening behind the scenes for the Muslims here. What’s it like to go
It’s been over 11 years since Imam Jamil Al-Amin, known during the Civil Rights era as H. Rap Brown, was arrested for shooting two Atlanta officers. His wife Karima of over 43 years spoke with me, folding her hands in her lap and opening up about how she deals with his controversial conviction. “Well, it’s in Allah’s hands and we submit to that,” she said. “When you submit, you take
My father is battling one of the strongest demons he’s ever faced in his life. He’s 66 years old and began working at the age of 9. Health reasons forced him to recently retire and ever since he’s been coping with what relevance he feels like he has in this world. “The only thing I know is work,” he said before pausing and staring at a wall. “As long as
My knowledge of what Ahmadiyya Muslims believe is limited. But off the bat, let’s clarify some misconceptions you might have about them. Yes, they pray five times a day, believe in Prophet Muhammad, fast during Ramadan and follow many other fundamentals of Islam. No, they don’t eat babies for breakfast. I’ve never been to an Ahmadi mosque and know very few of them in general. But when talking about the
Brother Ali is just as beautiful on the outside as he is on the inside. When you talk, he listens by nodding in excitement with a nirvana-like smile that stretches across his face. He sports a primped beard that straps down the sides of his face and flows down his chin like a waterfall. I’m looking forward to this conversation because I’ve been a fan of his music for almost
Basheer pointed to his gleaming skin and said the no-facial hair stereotype about Native Americans is true. “Open up a history book and you’re not going to see Geronimo or Sitting Bull with a beard or nothin’” he said. “Wow, I think you’re probably the least hairiest Muslim I’ve ever met,” I quipped back. Basheer Butcher is a full-blooded Native American that converted to Islam in 2001. He hails from
We came back to Las Vegas to meet up with a familiar face we made friends with last year. The story about Amanullah Naqshabandi was one of the most popular stories on our site last year and we wanted to meet up with him again and see how he was doing. According to Islam, Muslims are prohibited to gamble and Amanullah is active at his mosque and works at the
It’s well past midnight and I’m cooped up against a corner with my laptop outside the prayer room. I furiously begin to hammer away at the keyboard to write up this blog post so I can at least salvage a few hours of sleep before I have to get up again and head to the next state. A guy named Jason decorated with piercings and tattoos walks into the room
I spent well over an hour talking to Rev. Ann Holmes Redding about how she was kicked out of the Episcopalian church for believing in both Christianity and Islam. After an enlightening chat where we even sang a few Islamic and Christian songs together, I saved the most burning question I had for last. “Be honest,” I said. “Did you decide to be Christian too so you can get around
David Abuobaid is an active leader in Anchorage’s Muslim community. He said that Alaska is the most accepting state in this country of Muslims. “People are independent thinkers here,” he said in between some bites of food he took to break his fast. “The same feel for this place is like the pioneering spirit of the 1800s, everybody comes here with a story. There’s no tribal mentality here because everyone
Dr. Malika Haque is one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met. Her family is best friends with mine and she always believed in everything I’ve ever done growing up. When I was in high school and wanted to become a reporter, my parents were supportive but somewhat reserved about how stable the career could be. Growing up in Columbus, there really were no Muslims at the time that
Note: This post is talking about Sunnis and Shi’as, so before you comment on this post, remember the wise teachings of Mary J. Blige: “We don’t need no haters, just try to love one another.” When I was 10 years old, I asked my dad what was the difference between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims. “Shi’as are much better looking than us,” he said. Until college, I had little or no
Sheikh Kaleem grasps my hand and smiles when I ask him what impact his blindness has had on his faith. “You ask some interesting questions,” he said amidst a crowded room of people at the Islamic Da’wa Center in Milwaukee. “I’ve memorized more verses of Quran while I was blind than I did when I wasn’t. If it meant I could memorize more Quran, I wish I could go through
Bassam and I stress over our planned visit to Fargo, North Dakota. We didn’t expect our rental car to break down in Montana and the time it took to fix the car (thank you all for the prayers!) is making us late. It takes 11 hours to get to Fargo and getting there at a reasonable time is simply not going to happen now. Instead we program our GPS to
Note: We apologize in the delay in getting up this post. If you look at our map, you can see this leg of our trip is making us do 8+ hours of driving a day. But we’ll try our hardest to get these stories to you guys in a timely fashion. Faraz has been married to a Mormon woman for a little over a month. But he has known his
Amanullah has been working in casinos for over 29 years. “Nobody enjoys this work,” he tells me as he sips on a cup of chai. “But we do it because we want a better life for our kids.” Amanullah oversees slot machines at the MGM Grand Casino and is a board member of the Jamia Masjid, a mosque in downtown Las Vegas just minutes away from The Strip, the city’s
We left New Mexico much later than expected so our 8-plus hour drive to Phoenix meant we had to break our fast on the road. But with awesome scenery to look at on the way, we weren’t complaining whatsoever. We broke our fast with a bag of nectarines that Benyamin, the woodworker we met earlier that day, grew at his home in Abiquiu, New Mexico. His wife made us some
Hakim Archuletta tells me it’s time to break our fast and I pull my smartphone out of my pocket to ascertain if it’s time to do so. He grins and puts his hand on my shoulder and asks me to look at the colossal mountain landscape just a few miles from the house we’re standing outside of. “You won’t need that phone,” he says to me. “See that mountain? When
Sheikh Abu Omar counted on both of his hands how many times he came close to dying. The 80-year-old man has escaped drowning, political assassinations and even a fatal health diagnosis in the 1970s that remind him how blessed he feels when he wakes up every day. “Allah has protected me,” he says as he puts his left arm around me and points his right index finger into the air.
Before we left Oklahoma City, I told my homegirl Sarah that I’d check out the Islamic School she teaches at, the Mercy School in Edmond, OK. It’s affiliated with the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City mosque that we visited in this community. Pretty awesome place, the new $9 million building opened up at the beginning of Ramadan and is for students grades Kindergarten all the way through High School.
My homegirl Sarah Albahadily made all the arrangements for our visit to Oklahoma City today, and she’s just about as Oklahoma as you can get. She proudly blasts country music in her car and often wears cowboy shoes under her long flowing abaya dress. On the 4th of July, her mother puts on a headscarf designed like an American flag. “A lot of people make fun of Oklahoma for being
There are millions of people in New Orleans that can tell you stories about how they’re struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.
But a different kind of story here hits close to home for me because it’s about my brother Salman.
This morning Bassam and I linked up with Wayne and Robert of CNN.com, who are tagging along with us for the next few days to document our adventure through the southeast region of the country. We hit the road in Atlanta to start our six-hour drive down to Florida and I turn on the radio. The song from the Rocky movies “Eye of the Tiger” comes on and immediately I
I looked at Feroz Mahal, a tall and burly Punjabi man with an “I Love Canada” lanyard around his neck, from across the room and slowly gravitated towards him. He drove a tractor trailer thousands of miles from Vancouver, Canada and somehow wound up here in the mosque to be among the congregants of Masjid Ash-Shaheed, a predominantly African American mosque that is so inviting to anyone that comes inside
Apparently it’s not an uncommon sight in Philadelphia to see female parking meter attendants that cover up their faces in full niqab. It’s that kind of “I’m Muslim, so you’re just going to have to deal with it” attitude that’s so refreshing to me. Before coming to Philly, I asked many of my friends there which place I should check out when I come. Every single one of them pointed
Sitting among the 12 families that make up Augusta’s Muslim community, where the nearest halal restaurant is 45 minutes away, made me forget all about New York. [CLICK PHOTO TO READ MORE]
Bassam and I walked into the “Ground Zero Mosque” expecting to feel transformed, knowing the fact that I was praying inside the place that’s practically been mentioned in the news every 20 minutes. [CLICK THE PHOTO TO READ MORE]