Author Archives: Madeeha Hameed

Finding my religion in Sin City

I wrestled my way through the flickering lights and sounds of the coins cashing, virtual black jack dealer ladies, and faces from all over the world, gleaming with anticipation of every die roll and turn of a card changing their lives by winning them huge amounts of money. One face, however, was quite different. Through the poker tables, I saw my team standing with a man with a skull cap on his head, a subtle smile on his face and gaze lowered towards the ground in humility – this was one of Las Vegas’ most remarkable Imams, Imam Fateen Seifullah, standing in the lobby of the Sahara Casino to greet and welcome us to his city.

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The roots of the LDS: Palmyra, NY

One of the most rewarding aspects of this journey includes the friendships you gain on the course of your travels. One really good friend I made on this journey was a young woman with the name of Holly Tuttle in Palmyra, New York. Holly’s friendship is unique to me because she introduced me to a whole new aspect of American life that I did not know much about. She let me and my journey-family into her life by opening the doors of the Mormon faith to us. She not only invited us to learn about her faith but also agreed to show us the sacred sites in Palmyra, New York and Salt Lake City, Utah that serves as the foundation the Church of Latter-Day Saints.  

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American identity = Islamic identity: Imam Shamsi Ali

New York City – one of the largest urban capitals of the world.  It was my first time properly staying in New York City for such a long time. I so quickly found myself enjoying the ‘New-York-girl-life’ who got lost in exploring fall fashion, wide range of ethnic cuisines, and of course, riding in cabs and subways. I don’t think there was ever a moment when I took a walk in the park without overhearing a dozen different languages spoken from numerous parts of the world. With 36% of the population born outside of the United States, New York City symbolized the world as a global village.  Right at the center of the city’s tall skyscrapers stood a minaret and a dome. This was the Islamic Cultural Center located on 96th and 3rd avenue. This mosque enhanced the spirit of New York City when around 4,000 Muslims from all over the world prostrated under one roof for Friday prayers.

 

We were welcomed at the mosque by an Indonesian born Imam, Imam Shamsi Ali. Imam Ali was born and raised in Indonesia. He then lived in Pakistan for several years and was appointed as the Khateeb of the largest mosque in Pakistan known as the Shah Faisal Mosque. He then moved to the United States to get higher education and currently works for the United Nations. According to New York Magazine, he is one of the most influential religious figures in New York City. Continue reading

A Jewish Alderman commemorating the life of a Muslim Leader

“15 die, several injure in car bomb blast in Peshawar.” My morning started with one more day of disappointment of hoping to not find any story of Pakistan in the NYtimes headlines. I swallowed the tears clogging up my throat after looking at all the pictures of buildings from my country blood-stained and ruined. I quickly hit the close button on the corner of the screen and brushed out all thoughts about the news so that I could follow through with the schedule for another day of research in the Chicago city.

We drove down to Devon Avenue, the hub of the Pakistani/South Asian community living in Chicago. Our host for the morning, Mr. Khattak, stopped the car and pointed his finger towards one of the most extraordinary images I had seen in this country – “The Muhammad Ali Jinnah Way.” I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the name of Pakistan’s founder on this Chicago crossing. His words echoed in my head as I stood next to Dr. Ahmed staring at those letters that equated freedom and justice for both of us.
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A Hard Goodbye

Woman praying at Muslim Center of Detroit

Woman praying at Muslim Center of Detroit

When I woke up Wednesday, it seemed like every other morning – the bright blue sky, strong stench of coffee in the hallway, and of course, our super early team meeting. After a visit to Professor Saeed Khan’s classes for questionnaires, I came back to make my routine calls to schedule, reschedule, confirm, and reconfirm meetings of the next few days in Dearborn. After making a few calls, I spoke to Imam Abdallah El-Amin, our host for the dinner that evening (video below). Imam ran the mosque known as the Muslim Center of Detroit which had been predominantly serving the African American community in Detroit for the past 30 years. As usual, I was expecting a powerful, enthusiastic, warm voice to be on the other side of the phone. However, there was something different about the voice this time. There was something somber in the Imam’s tone and that is when I knew at once that something was wrong. After conversing with me for a bit about the schedule for the night, Imam finally broke the heart-wrenching news to me…. The American Muslim superhero, Imam Warith Deen Muhammad had just passed away.

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The Take Off

It finally happened…I looked outside the window as our plane to St. Louis took off from BWI airport towards the clear blue sky. As Craig sat next to me filming the beautiful scene of Washington, DC, from the air, I sat there staring outside the window thinking that just yesterday I was an ordinary student at the College of William and Mary, and here I was today embarking on a journey that would not only change my life but potentially change the face of history.

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