What makes their blog great to follow is the unique coverage they give of each community they visit. They started their trip at Park51 and point out that despite all of the media attention it’s been getting, praying there brings the same feeling of peace and tranquility as it does anywhere else. From their visit to the Islamic Society of Augusta in Maine, where the Muslim community is a total of 12 families and they have to take turns to pick up halal meat from a location 4 hours away, to Philadelphia where its common to see niqaabi parking meter attendants, a huge contrast can be seen in the different Muslim communities across the states. It’s like Aman said during the interview, “there’s never been a dull moment.”
Logistically speaking, it seems difficult to plan a 30 states in 30 days road trip. In terms of their accommodations and arrangements for sehri, Aman said, “We’re purposely not staying at any hotels, since it takes away from Ramadan. We’re staying with people we know or families that offered to host us, or at the masjid itself. When we went from Charlotte to Atlanta, we left before Fajr so we had food on the road, we had granola bars and orange juice.”
When I asked Bassam and Aman what their favourite part of their road trip is, they both said the same thing: that it gave them an opportunity to meet new people and learn about different communities across the states. Bassam gave the following example: “When I was in Pennsylvania I visited the East Fallowfield farm, the mazhar of the great Sri Lankan saint Bawa Muhaiyaddin. The community was mostly White Americans and we all prayed Maghrib together. I remember going up to one of the congregants and telling him, ‘I don't think I've ever prayed with this many white people before.’”
Aman pointed out that because they are both currently based in New York, this road trip has also given them the opportunity to visit their families in New Orleans and Houston. In these blog posts, they make it a point to bring up issues that affect their own communities at home, such as dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the lives of Muslim gas station owners.
After reading their insightful posts, you really feel as if you’re there with them. To add to this effect, they frequently add pictures, often posting in the form of photo essays. The pictures add a feeling to the story that the words can’t. It’s as the photographer Ansel Adams said: “To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.”
What makes this project more endearing is Aman and Bassam’s humility towards it. After I told Aman how great I thought they were doing, he replied, “It’s only by the grace of Allah that we’re doing this. Last year we were saying ‘we don’t want to do something like this again.’ We got lucky because Allah willed it, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the people following our blog last year. They helped us raise $6000 in one week, which covered our entire trip.”
All in all, it makes for a very insightful read and I strongly encourage you all to check it out.