Aman Ali and I have been on the road for the past 15 days exploring Muslim America. We started our trip in Alaska, somehow ended up in Hawaii and are now on our way to Mississippi. Our challenge is to visit a different mosque in a different State everyday during the Islamic month of Ramadan and then blog about it on our site by the end of the day. We are fasting on the trip and will be driving close to 13,000 miles. Here are some of the people we have encountered the past 15 days.
Day 1: Anchorage, Alaska. Mohammad Obeidi came to Alaska on a whim in the 1960's and worked as a cab driver. He would also sell prints of famous paintings on street corners. Soon enough, he made enough money to open a small gallery. Now, Obeidi is one of the leading art collectors in Anchorage.
Day 2: Seattle, Washington. Ann Holmes was an Episcopalian priest who was ousted from the church when she declared that she was both Muslim and Christian.
Day 3: Corvallis, Oregon. As the night prayer begins, Ali Godil sits off to the side and writes a note to MoMo, a friend who is now in prison after attempting to bomb a christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon.
Day 6: Las Vegas, Nevada. We covered Amanullah last year on our blog when he was going through an inner conflict of being the board member of the mosque and also being the manager of slot machines at MGM Grand Casino. Amanullah is still working the same job and impatiently waiting for retirement.
Day 8: Sioux Falls, South Dakota. David (left) stands with his wife, Nor. They met and married through the Islamic Pink Pages, a matrimonial newsletter, when Nor was in Singapore teaching at a school and David was in a South Dakota prison.
Day 8: Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Basheer Butcher is a full-blooded Native American that converted to Islam in 2001. He hails from the Sioux tribe and grew up on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. He now lives in Sioux Falls and is active in the Muslim community here of about 3,000 people.
Day 10: Omaha, Nebraska. Marshall Taylor sits on the concrete that once was Malcolm X's birth home. Marshall and a close group of his friends have created a foundation that is working to create a cultural center in Omaha in his honor.
Day 10: Omaha, Nebraska. Lutfullah Wali embraced Islam in the early 1950s and built the first mosque in Nebraska with his hands. He is now above the age of 100 and reclusive. He spends his entire day at home swimming in his mess.
Day 10: Omaha, Nebraska. The entire upstairs of Lutfullah's house is covered in vulgar scribbles and cryptic drawings that he has been making for the past five years.
Day 13: Little Rock, Arkansas. A lady pours Rooh Afza, a red sherbet, drink into cups in preparation of the break fast meal.
Day 14: Houston, Texas. Aman Ali, co-creator of 30 Mosques, takes a break from the road and stands in the middle of a blooming cotton field.
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