For New York natives Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq, visiting 30 mosques during 30 days of Ramadan in their multicultural hometown was a rare glimpse into a world that few ever see. Their inspired project won wide acclaim, prompting them to expand their horizons with a “Ramadan road trip” across 30 states. Already halfway through their travels, Bassam and Aman have met notable American Muslim figures on their journey, like New Orlean’s Abdurrahman Zeitoun (of Dave Egger’s novel Zeitoun) and the Lady Caliphs girls basketball team that made it to the state championships in Georgia in 2006. But they have also met unique communities that even most American Muslims have never heard of, such as the first mazhar in America, built in 1986 to honor the Sufi Saint, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, and host to a largely white congregation.
In the midst of their travels, they stopped by CNN studios for this extended interview (cameramen and journalists from CNN are also tagging along with the boys for part of their journey). With so much in the news about a mosque in New York (which, incidentally, was the boy’s first stop and so much driven by a homogenous, harshly negative image of Muslim life, Aman and Bassam’s journey promises to show a more nuanced and, ultimately, American portrayal of an indigenous community, adapting to America as America slowly adapts to it.
Zahed Amanullah is Executive Editor of altmuslim.com