By Solange De Santis
Religion News Service
NEW YORK (RNS) Two young Muslims are hitting the road for Ramadan, determined to acquire a broad--and speedy--picture of American Islam by breaking the holy month's daily fast in a different state each evening.
Aman Ali, 25, and Bassam Tariq, 23, are extending their Ramadan experience from last year, when they visited a different New York City mosque each night for the traditional iftar dinner to break the daily fast and blogged about it at http://www.30mosques.com.
Ali and Tariq started the trip on Aug. 12 at Harlem's Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, then headed the next day for Augusta, Maine, planning to swing down the East Coast, across the southern U.S. to Los Angeles, then north and east, ending on Sept. 10 in Dearborn, Mich.
The pair plans to spend from two to eight hours driving each day, Ali said.
Last year's blog attracted international interest from people fascinated with the variety of New York's Muslim life. This year, the two men considered visiting "30 mosques in 30 countries," but realized such a trip would be "a logistical nightmare," Ali said. "So we said, 'Let's do 30 states,"' he said. They raised $6,000 for expenses, booked time off from work and made dozens of phone calls.
They plan to visit a mosque in Philadelphia where the imam was born and raised in Scotland; a Los Angeles mosque that welcomes refugees from China; and one of the nation's largest Muslim communities in Dearborn.
Even as a proposed Islamic community center in lower Manhattan near ground zero generates controversy, Ali said the trip is "an adventure," not a political exercise.
"We build a sense of solidarity," he said, adding that they won't be spending a dime on motels, since they've been offered accommodation at each stop. The Ramadan pilgrimages, Ali said, have caused him to realize "how much I love the (Muslim) community."