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Morning Sun
  • Muslim comedian, Aman Ali entertains at Pittsburg State

  • Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, is observed by fasting between sunrise and sunset. So what should an observant Muslim do if he or she happens to be in Alaska and the month falls when there are 22 hours of daylight each day?

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  • Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, is observed by fasting between sunrise and sunset. So what should an observant Muslim do if he or she happens to be in Alaska and the month falls when there are 22 hours of daylight each day?
    That’s one of the questions Aman Ali discussed Thursday during a talk in the Crimson and Gold Ballroom, Overman Student Center, Pittsburg State University.
    A comedian from Ohio now living in New York City, Ali and friend Bassam Tariq, a photographer, learned that there were 163 mosques within a 10-mile radius of New York. In 2009 they decided that they would visit a different mosque every day of the 30-day Ramadan observance to break their fast after sundown. They did a blog on their adventures.
    “In 2010 we decided to change things up and did mosques in 30 different states in 30 days,” Ali said. ”In 2011 we did the other 20 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.”
    So what does a Muslim do in Alaska? Does he or she fast for 22 hours?
    “You can follow what you would do in another location, such as California,” Ali said. “But some very traditional Muslims do fast the entire 22 hours of daylight.”
    He and his friend found that the first mosque built in the United States was in tiny Ross, N.D., built by Syrian and Lebanese farmers who immigrated to America because they didn’t want to become soldiers during the spread of the Ottoman Empire.
    “The caretaker of the mosque is an 89-year-old woman and I asked her if it was difficult living there and being a minority,” Ali said. “She said, ‘No, because at the end of the day we’re all farmers’.”
    He admitted that he had expected he might find stories of prejudice and bigotry, of difficulty in living as a member of a minority ethnic and/or religious group. That belief has been fed by TV stories of sentiment against Muslims in this country.
    “What I’m seeing on TV is not what I’m seeing in reality,” Ali said.
    He also told of a visit to a Confederate souvenir shop in Georgia.
    “There were three guys sitting there with maybe five teeth among them,” Ali said. “I’m not dismissing the idea of racism and slavery, but they were very gentle and kind with me. I wondered, what cultural baggage am I bringing?”
    He and Tariq have received national attention and CNN coverage on their travels, and were once asked to leave a highly conservative mosque in Mobile, Ala.
    “I said, ‘We’re brothers, we’re Muslims, can’t we pray here?’ and the imam said we could pray, but then we would need to leave,” Ali said. “They wouldn’t take pictures, so for our blog we doodled the story.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Now the “30 Mosques in 30 Days” project has grown.
    “There are 79 other projects that I know of, all over the world,” Ali said. “Now our project is no longer about us.”
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