Day 4: There’s Something In The Air

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

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Day 3: Letters To A Friend

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,

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Day 2: Being Christian and Muslim

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

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Side Note: Finding Home

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.

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Day 1: Yes, There Are Muslims in Alaska

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

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Our feet spend more time on the floor mats of a rental car than they do on land. This year we will be celebrating the view from the windshield as we criss cross through America.  

Day 0: Photos From The Dashboard

Our feet spend more time on the floor mats of our cars than it does on the States we visit. This year, we will be celebrating the view from the dashboard. Here is a small collection of what I’ve been seeing the last two days.

Day 29: Ohio, Coming Back Home to Columbus

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

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Day 28: Kentucky, Mind The Space

Note: Due to certain concerns, the subject of our post has been renamed and is not present in any of the photos. Instead, we present to you his workspace, blue prints and completed designs to help tell his compelling story. Right now, in the heart of Lexington, Kentucky a white man with a thick southern accent is designing a mosque. He is designing the walls, the arched windows, the domes,

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Outtakes: The Memphis Islamic Center and their neighbors

Dear dedicated readers, we are recuperating these last three days. Bear with us as we are in the process of making our last posts. There are a wealth of stories we couldn’t fit in the blog. Today, we talk about a small and hopeful story about an Islamic center and their generous neighbors. They knew that there was a church close to them when they were began building the Memphis

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Day 27: The Muslims in Memphis (Part 1)

Chip Ordman is a reform Jew and his wife Eunice is a Christian. The couple attend mosques in Memphis 2-3 times a month for Friday prayers, potluck dinners and other events. “The more people get to know each other, the more they’ll get along,” Eunice said. I first met Chip in April this year for a standup show I did for the Memphis Islamic Center, a ridiculously awesome mosque being

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Day 26: Illinois, Hanging out with Shi’as in Chicago

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

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Day 25: Iowa, The Mother Mosque in Cedar Rapids

Note: There are many families that have helped build the Cedar Rapids Muslim community. Unfortunately, I was only able to meet with a small portion of them. So please take these small accounts and stories as part of a larger history. Many mistake the Mother Mosque as being the first mosque in North America, but as we blogged a couple of days ago, Ross, North Dakota was the site of

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Day 24: Wisconsin, Islamic Da’wa Center in Milwaukee

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

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Day 23: Minnesota, Dar Al-Hijrah in Minneapolis

Before Break Fast, Reflection We arrive around 6 PM to Dar Al Hijrah, the local mosque in downtown Minneapolis, and are welcomed by the congregants of the community. A group of elders sit around reciting Qur’an together. They take turns reading the first part of a verse and then everyone recites the last part together. It sounds difficult, but the harmonies are incredible. Before entering the mosque, I make a

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Day 22: Ross, North Dakota – A Leap in Time

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

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Day 21: Breakdown in Montana

BAM / Thud / CLUNK. However you describe the sound, Aman and I hear it before we see smoke build up in front of our Chevy Cobalt. Aman panics and pulls to the side. “I think I hit a large rock.” A rock, really? We get out and inspect the car. Things look fine, we wait for the smoke to settle and get back in the car and drive forward.

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The First 15 Days in Photos

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 20 – Idaho, The Islamic Community of Bosniaks in Boise

Note: Due to car troubles and long drive time, this post has been made a day late. Please accept our apologies as we are trying to stay on schedule with our route. During the Ethnic Cleansings in the 1990’s, the US government helped bring thousands of Bosnian families to America. Like most refugees, they were settled in quieter parts of America, areas that are less crowded and more affordable. And

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Day 19 – Utah,The Utah Islamic Center in Salt Lake City

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

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Day 18 – Nevada, the Jamia Masjid in Las Vegas

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

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Day 16 – Arizona, the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix

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

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Day 15 – New Mexico, Dar al Islam in Abiquiu (Pt. 2)

Note: We seem to have misplaced a substantial number of amazing pictures we took during this visit, so our sincerest apologies. We will try to find them as soon as possible and post them. Bassam and I were getting ready to leave New Mexico for an eight hour drive to Arizona, but we took an incredibly worthwhile one hour detour to Abiquiu, New Mexico. The small town is home to

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Day 15 – New Mexico, the Taha Mosque in Santa Fe (Pt. 1)

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

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Day 14 – The Colorado Muslim Society in Denver

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.

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Day 13: Islamic Society of Wichita

Taking pictures outside of the Islamic Society of Wichita, I strike up a small conversation with Ammarah, a journalism student from the local university, Wichita State, who is following us today.

Day 12, Oklahoma, Teaching at the Mercy School (Pt. 2)

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.

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Day 12 – Oklahoma, the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City (Pt. 1)

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

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The Lady Caliphs in Atlanta – A Short Video

In Atlanta, we visited the Mohammed Schools where we talked about the Lady Caliphs, the high school girls basketball team that made it to the state championships a few years ago.

Day 11 – Texas, Synott Mosque in Houston

Synott isn’t the name of the mosque we visited tonight, but that doesn’t matter because in the past ten years I’ve been frequenting it I’ve called the mosque nothing else. This is your hometown mosque, that mosque where you learned about Islam, ran into your first Muslim crush, where you volunteered at the Sunday school and picked a fight or two when you didn’t have to.  It’s that mosque where

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Day 10 – Louisiana, Zeitoun After Zeitoun, A Photo Essay (Pt. 2)

AbdulRahman Zeitoun is an iconic American Muslim. But if you tell him this, he will shrug and change the subject. He doesn’t talk much about the book written about him or the animated movie that is in the works (directed by Oscar winner Jonathan Demme). He’d rather talk about his painting company or the masjid that he helps run. For those who are not familiar with Zeitoun, I strongly recommend

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Day 10 – Louisiana, Spending time with family in New Orleans (Pt. 1)

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.

Day 9 – Alabama, Epic Fail.

Last night in the Jacksonville mosque, Aman and I decided to change today’s route from Birmingham, Alabama to Mobile, Alabama. The cause for the change of heart – word of mouth said that Muslims own about 95% of the car dealerships in Mobile, and at that time,  it sounded like a nice phenomena to cover. We enter Mobile, Alabama around 6:30 p.m. and see a wide array of car dealerships

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Day 8 – Florida, Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville

This morning Bassam and I linked up with Wayne and Robert of, 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

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Day 6 – North Carolina, Masjid Ash-Shaheed in Charlotte

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

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