We have been absent from posting lately due to the (sometimes overwhelming) task of writing and editing the book, but we are done. We are really excited about the contents–nine chapters divided into three parts: 1) American Identity 2) Islam in America and 3) Adjusting and Adapting.
First a reboot: We set out in September of 2008 with a team of six. Led by Professor Akbar Ahmed, the team consisted of Frankie Martin, Hailey Woldt, Craig Considine, Madeeha Hameed and Jonathan Hayden. We set out to discover America, it’s history and culture, and–of course–where Islam fits in. It was quite a journey, taking us to over 75 cities, big and small, across the vast continent. We spoke to people of all backgrounds, ranging from Bosnians, Kurds, and African Americans in over 100 mosques in Muslim communities. Jews, Mennonites, Mormons , atheists and more in non-Muslim communities. We spoke to scholars and activists, religious leaders and administrators, uncovered history and spoke to converts. We heard heartwarming stories and learned of struggle and disappointment. We traveled and traveled and came back home to DC to write the book and finish make the film.We had a lot of loyal followers on the blog and got a lot of coverage from the media, causing a minor stir in Alabama and breaking a story in Nebraska. The film is out (trailer can be seen here) and has been screened across the world (in Australia, France and Pakistan) at Universities, religious institutions and film festivals and is being translated into Arabic and Persian. Continue reading
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We got off to a great start in scenic Utah, meeting Mormon missionaries in training at the Missionary Training School and then going on to Brigham Young University, a school owned by Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints where Dr. Ahmed lectured. We were driven around Salt Lake and Provo by Elder Banks-who used to be a “seventy,” a top leadership position in the LDS Church. His wife, Susan, also accompanied us and was very hospitable.
At the MTC we met a Mandarin language class of about 10 missionaries in training. Each year 50,000 Mormon missionaries go out in to the world to share their religion and engage in humanitarian assistance. I tried out some broken Mandarin on the missionaries and they replied in perfect accents-these were dedicated, driven students. The students-all dressed in meticulous dark suits and short haircuts were confident and excited about their missions. Some were from European countries like Switzerland, underscoring the global vision of the LDS Church.
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Tagged BYU, frankie martin, Islam, LDS, Mormon, Muslim, proposition 8, Provo, Religion, Salt Lake City, Utah
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.