30 days through Muslim America, a photo essay

30 days through Muslim America


▲ Day 1, New York City: A congregant hurries his meal as the call to prayer is announced at the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood.

Bassam Tariq: During Ramadan last year, Aman Ali and I visited 30 mosques in 30 days around New York City. Regular Boing Boing readers may remember our two-week stint guestblogging here during that experiment. This year, while I was in Pakistan, we decided on a whim to revisit that adventure, but this time, take on the rest of America. We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into.

Our Ramadan road trip this year drew much interest from big media, thanks to the "Ground Zero Mosque controversy" and Terry Jones' Quran-burning fiasco. It was unsettling to sit through interview after interview, fielding questions about mosque construction and the state of the American Muslim community. Every TV interview eventually veered into "Islam on trial" territory, and we were the ones defending it. Aman and I became Ambassador Muslim. It sucked.

Ramadan ended, the news cycle moved on, and we were lost to the archives. We're good for clicks, but only when we're controversial. And as far as that part goes, I am happy it's all over.

But I'll miss every other part of our 30-day adventure. It's been two weeks since we've been back and already I miss the road, the people we met, and the America I experienced.

The following photos come from our month-long road trip through Muslim America. I've selected a special assortment of images for Boing Boing, and am honored to share these photos with you.


▲ Day 2, Maine: Two young men take turns reciting verses they have memorized from the Quran. Both were brought from a special Islamic school in Buffalo, NY to lead the special night prayer during the month of Ramadan.


▲Day 4, Pennsylvania: A woman meditates near the grave site of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, a Sufi saint from Sri Lanka who passed away in 1985 in the USA.


▲Day 4, Pennsylvania: A row of ladies get ready for the sunset prayers, Maghrib. I later commented to one of the mosque caretakers that I had never prayed with this many white people before. I'm happy I got a chuckle.


▲Day 6, Atlanta, Georgia: A young student at the Muhammad School pays close attention to her social studies teacher as she takes notes. The Muhammad School is an organization established in the late 1980s that prides itself in a 100% college transition rate.


▲Day 6, Atlanta, Georgia: One of the the Lady Caliphs, the name of the Muhammad School's girl's basketball team, saves the ball from falling out of bounds.


▲Day 8, Jacksonville, Florida: A boy jumps off the slide. Soon enough, the other kids follow suit.


▲Day 11, Houston, Texas: At the Nigerian Mosque, three girls compete to see who can put on their hijab (head scarf) the fastest.


▲ Day 14, Colorado: Shaikh Abu Omar fled Iraq in the 60's and since then has made Colorado his home. He sticks his tongue out in hopes of ruining the photos I was taking. If only he knew how much he helped, instead!


▲ Day 15, Abiquiu, New Mexico: Benyamin (left) and AbdurRauf stand by the door of the prayer hall of Dar Al Islam. Dar al Islam is a large educational facility built in a traditional North African Nubian architecture style.


▲Day 16, Phoenix, Arizona: The loneliest girl to ever sit on a swing, attempts to swing.


▲Day 17, Santa Ana, California: Two Cambodian Muslim youth play basketball in the field outside of the Indo-Chinese Muslim Refugee Center. Muslim Cambodians live in homes arranged around the compound. Many of them fled from the brutal Khmer Rogue regime in the early 1980s.


▲Day 20, Boise Idaho: Fahruddin is 21 years old, and is the visiting Imam from Bosnia. He stands outside of the mosque during soccer practice.


▲Day 18, Las Vegas, Nevada: A boy attempts to jump an elevated chain in the parking lot of the Islamic Society of Nevada.


▲Day 22, Ross, North Dakota: The first mosque in the United States used to stand here. It was built in 1929, then demolished in the 1970s due to family issues. Only recently, in 2005, did some of the family decide to a build a small building to commemorate community members who have passed away.


▲Day 23, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Eid Ali, a cab driver in Minneapolis, checks his light fixture to see if it is working. The Somali refugee community in Minneapolis is large: by some estimates, more than 20,000.


▲Day 25, Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Aziza Igram, a first-generation Syrian immigrant to the United States, shows a picture of the Mother Mosque, formerly known as the "Moslem Temple." The Mother Mosque is considered the longest standing mosque in all of North America.


▲Day 30, Canton, Michigan: Our last stop before New York leads us to the largest population of Muslims in North America, Dearborn, Michigan. We also end up visiting neighboring cities densely populated with Muslims. Here, an uncle who is a local community leader lands an epic hit—making him the champion for the day.