By Craig Considine – One usually doesn’t imagine dirt roads and mosques near each other. Much to our surprise though, this was reality when we visited the Bosnian Islamic Cultural Center in Snellville, Georgia during our stay in Atlanta. After being stuck in traffic for a good hour (and lost for a bit), Dr. Ahmed, Hailey, and our Bosnian friend Damar finally found the road we were looking for. In fact, it isn’t even a real road – it isn’t paved, but was filled with dust, dirt and rubble. The mosque rested a few hundred yards deep in the woods. A driver isn’t even able to see it while driving on the highway because it is hidden behind a thick forest of trees.
This Bosnian community, like the one we visited in our first stop of St. Louis in September, is very warm, friendly and hospitable. They provided us with traditional Bosnian food (which was delicious) and also some ‘tea cookies’ which I couldn’t stop eating. I must have had about four of five of them.
All visitors in the audience (about eighty or so) were thanking me for my effort in improving understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims in America. In fact, that was the same response I received from Imam Hasic in St. Louis. They have come a long way since the devastating war in Bosnia during the 1990s. The community is pretty large but is still an its infantile stages of development. Many members don’t speak English very well and are more inclined to stay at home rather than work towards integrating into the mainstream American community. Have no worries though. The younger generation is lively, enthusiastic, intelligent, and proud to be both American and Muslim.
The Bosnians paid very close attention to Dr. Ahmed as he described his deep felt affection for the Bosnians struggle in the past. He told an inspirational story that I can’t give away here – you will have to watch the video to learn more about it. After the discussion had ended, Abdullah (our friend and translator) held up Dr. Ahmed’s book ‘Living Islam’ and told the crowd that it gave him comfort during his trials and tribulations in the 1990s. The goal of this project, in fact, is to do the same. We hope that through our book and documentary, Muslim Americans of all backgrounds will be reinvigorated and more confident with their American-Muslim identity.