Dear friends, It has been a while. We are back living the lives we left. I am in my advertising agency working on what advertising people work on. Aman is touring, flying across the world and writing incredible editorials. Life continues. There was a pause and in that pause we all met. It was only two to three weeks ago that we all were together. You were rooting for us,
The epic conclusion to the 30 Mosques in 30 States. An emotional journey that began in Alaska and ended in Ohio and Vermont. The duo visit old friends and make new ones along the way. The most divisive and controversial stories all took place during in this 2011 journey.
You are on a plane right now. You are fleeing Congo with your wife and two kids, a boy and a girl. Your son is asleep on your shoulder. The airplane drones as airplanes do and you are uncertain about the future. Fuad. That is your name, but you spell it Fawaad. There is an extra A for emphasis. You are on your way to Burlington, Vermont a part of
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,
NOTE: DUE TO HURRICANE IRENE, OUR UPDATES HAVE SLOWED DOWN. SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE We sleep as Hurricane Irene passes us by. The electricity and water go out. Aman nudges me to wake up. “Wake up. They want us to clear the sister’s area.” Aman says. It was the quietest corner in the mosque the night before. So it made perfect sense to sleep there. I roll up my sleeping
It is the 27th night of Ramadan and we are locked in. The Mohammad Mosque is located in the hard streets of Hartford, Connecticut. The cops have already pulled up twice, once to stop a fight and the second time to stop a rape. No joke. So we stay put inside and try to make the best of the night that’s ahead. Tonight is the night where many Muslims will
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 spits a few verses inside an Indian grocery store during a segment we like to call “Saffron Cipher”
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
We find ourselves outside of a large house in Newark, Delaware that will soon be known as the Glasgow Community Masjid. According to Murat Kose, a member of the community, there are about 15,000 to 20,000 Muslims in Delaware. About a thousand of them are Turkish. Many of them own businesses in the area. “Every diner you go to in the city, it will be owned by a Turk.” Murat
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
We met a gay Imam yesterday in Washington DC. Before we go any further I thought I’d take a moment and do a Frequently Asked Questions section so we can get passed the obvious questions and move to the story. FAQS WHAT’S THE STORY? He goes by Imam Daiyee Abdullah and lives in Washington D.C. He is known as the gay Imam because many queer Muslims come to him for
The following photos and writing were done while driving through the Appalachians in West Virginia We leave at dusk and head East. The car is quiet. All you hear are the sounds of the wind, the trucks passing and wipers making way in the fog. Clouds gather and your eyes get heavy. Don’t fall asleep at the wheel. Don’t fall asleep. Sleep will derail us. It will kill us. Cutting
My sincere apologies to the kid I almost shot in the face with these fireworks, lol.
Thanks for joining our second live chat, over 300 people attended! If you missed it, click the “More” button below to catch it. Look forward to our next one at the end of the trip!
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
Past the confederate flags and horse ranches, a little entry way down a broken road leads to a small mobile home community. I drive slowly down the road and see three to four mobile homes lined up next to one another. A large African American man comes out wearing a shalwar kameez, a traditional South Asian garb, and greets us. He is the elder in the community and goes by
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
I am typing this in Atlanta as Aman sleeps and I am running on less than two hours of sleep. We have travelled across America in the past 15 days and we are only half way through our trip. This calls for a look back at some of our favorite moments and also an opportunity to share some great photos that didn’t make the cut for the blog posts.
In 1987, Warith Deen Muhammad, the son of Elijah Mohammad, took a shovel and dug it deep in a small farmland. It was the groundbreaking for New Medina, a small community in rural Southwest Mississippi that would celebrate the values of Muslims and the African American experience. The story made the front page of The Muslim Journal and many members of the African American Muslim community were enamored by the
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
The following is a Google chat conversation with my wife while driving to New Orleans. A larger story on Houston will follow. A-dawg: sup B-unit: Not much, on our way to New Orleans. B-unit: Aman and I just stopped to take some pictures of the cotton growing you mentioned before leaving: A-dawg: those are great! A-dawg: so do you miss Houston already? B-unit: family and friends, yes. The place,
Stepping into a mosque everyday, we miss the other side of the community and just accepted that being men, we’ll never be able to make it passed what we see. But arriving in the Little Rock, Arkansas mosque, I realize how tired I am of photographing men, hairy men, brown men, Arab men, black men, men wearing kufis, men laughing, hobbit looking men, bald men, Aman and the occasional ambigious
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
In the quiet northwest corner of Omaha there is a home adorned with colorful signage blaring pro-Muslim and pro-African slogans. Inside the home a man will be sitting among roaches and rats who will smile and welcome you. His name is Lutfullah Wali and he is one of the first Muslims in Nebraska. He embraced the faith in the 1950’s after fighting in World War 2, traveled across the world
Brother Ali’s son, Faheem, breaks it down.
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
In a still and quiet night, Laramie is sleeping. The bars have closed, the homeless have vanished and the city is left to gophers and armadillos painting the night with a melody so benign that CDs are made of it and sold to you at Target. Laramie is a college town and since the University of Wyoming has not started fall classes the town is desolate. We watched the sun
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
An hour-by-hour breakdown of our short time in Hawaii. HOUR ZERO Mahalo means thank you and you will hear it everywhere you go when you ride Hawaiian Airlines. When you are getting late to your terminal, Mahalo! When you are getting bags searched while your flight isboarding, Mahalo! When they tell you there is not enough room for your bags, you get the idea. The good people of Hawaiian Airlines
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
This past November, Mohamed Osman Mohamud planned to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. His plans were foiled by the FBI who had set him up in the first place. The thwarted bomb plot made headlines across the country declaring Mohamed a terrorist, a young radical. He was a student at Oregon State University and frequented the local mosque in Corvallis. There, Mohamed was known as MoMo,
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
Beyonce plays in our car as we make our way out of Denali National Park. Aman is driving and controlling the playlist. “We ain’t got nothing but love. Darling you got enough for the both of us.” Note: This post was written prior to the start of Ramadan There is silence in our car as we look for a place to enjoy one of our last meals before Ramadan begins.