Travel guides: ’30 Mosques in 30 Days’ blog

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30 Mosques in 30 Days, a blog by Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq,

For the past three years, Aman Ali, 27, and photographer Bassam Tariq have spent Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (it began this year July 20), visiting a different mosque every night. They have now covered all 50 states. Here are edited excerpts from a conversation with Ali:

Is Ramadan a good time to visit countries with large Muslim populations?

It’s a fantastic time, because the celebrations after sunset, when the fast is broken, are so vibrant. In Mecca, people set up picnics on the ground of Masjid al-Haram, the mosque surrounding the Kaaba. And in open-air markets around Marrakesh, Morocco, sellers open their booths and invite you in to share their meals. I remember walking through Jemaa el-Fnna, the city’s largest square, and a mosque had set up a tarp outside its doors and passed around dates, bowls of lamb soup, lentils, mint tea. Even when tourists explained they weren’t Muslim, they’d insist, “Sit, break bread with us, have this, have that.”

Any practical concerns for travelers during Ramadan?

Tourists, of course, are not expected to fast — even Muslim travelers are exempted. Restaurants get very busy this time of year, so call ahead for reservations and avoid making them the hour that fast is broken. It’s a courtesy for you to let those fasting eat right away.

How are U.S.

Ramadan celebrations different?

It’s the same open, welcoming spirit, but there are regional and ethnic differences. The Albanian Islamic Cultural Center in Staten Island, for instance, broke fast with kebab and seasoned breads, but then the Atlanta Masjid of al-Islam, a largely African-American mosque, served catfish, collard greens and macaroni.

In 2010, we came across the first mosque built in the United States — in Ross, N.D. The original structure was built in 1924 by Syrian and Lebanese farmers who settled out there after the Homestead Act, and now stands this stone 20-by-20-foot mosque with mini-minaret pillars at each corner — literally a little mosque on the prairie.

Jul 21st, 2012 | Posted in Web Resources
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