Bassam Tariq

Bassam is a writer and independent filmmaker. He is a TED Fellow and was named Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film." His first feature film, THESE BIRDS WALK, premiered at SXSW and is distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories. THESE BIRDS WALK was named by the New Yorker, IndieWire, Sights and Sounds Magazine as one of the best movies of 2013. The film currently ranks as one of 50 best-ever rated documentaries on Rotten Tomatoes.

Finale: We Will Meet Again

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,

Read more


They say that nostalgia is one of the most useless human emotions. What do you get from sulking or waxing about the past? Maybe this isn’t that. Maybe this is just a reflection on some of the moments that can’t seem to leave my mind. Day 3: Corvallis, Oregon – Letters To Your “Terrorist” Friend. We meet friends of a convicted terrorist and ask them a simple question: If they

Read more

Day 31: Up in the Air

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

Read more

Day 28: Sleeping Through The Storm

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

Read more

Day 27: Finding ‘Qadr

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

Read more

We’re in N. Smithfield, Rhode Island. Already had an earthquake on this trip, now comes a hurricane.


Freeway spits a few verses inside an Indian grocery store during a segment we like to call “Saffron Cipher”

Day 25: Moving Along

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

Read more

Day 22: Understanding Love

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

Read more

Side Note: Breaking Dawn

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

Read more

Live Chat: Round 2!

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!

Day 18: Migrating For Love

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

Read more


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.  

Day 16: The Quiet Life

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

Read more

Day 14: Google Chat In The Car

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,

Read more

Day 13: Mind The Space

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

Read more

Day 11: Lutfullah’s Walls

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

Read more

Live from Iowa

Thanks to everyone who joined us for a live video chat we broadcasted from Des Moines, Iowa.  Over 200 people showed up! We’ll do the next one on Day 20, stay tuned to details for it. If you missed the first one you can see the video HERE

It Runs In The Family

Brother Ali’s son, Faheem, breaks it down.

Day 8: Nor’s Letters

DAVID Before prison, David only knew one world. He was part of a biker gang and got himself into trouble. Once a man pulled a loaded gun near his face and nearly killed him. Another time, two men opened beer bottles on his scalp and left him to die. Before Islam, his enemies were the people around him, after he became a Muslim his biggest enemy became himself – his

Read more

Day 7: Quiet In Laramie

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

Read more

Day 5: Ten Hours In Hawaii

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

Read more

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,

Read more

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.

Read more


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 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

Read more

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

Read more

Day 2 – Maine, Refugees in Portland (Pt. 2)

Before heading out to Boston today, Bassam and I stayed in Maine a bit longer to meet a large refugee population of people from Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and Sudan. [CLICK THE PHOTO TO READ MORE]