Tag Archives: prayers

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

200 Somali Meatpackers fired for demanding time to pray

Recently while staying in Omaha, Nebraska we read that 200 Somali workers were fired from their jobs at a meatpacking plant in the town of Grand Island, Nebraska run by the JBS Swift Meat Co. The workers had demanded and were refused time to pray and break their fast at sun down during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Somalis had also been fired in a similar fashion at other Swift plants in Colorado and Texas. Having written about Somalia in the past and interviewed Somalis in Kenya for the “Journey into Islam” project, I was curious to see how Somalis were getting on in the US and concerned about these mass firings occurring in the Midwest.


After a speech Dr. Ahmed delivered at Omaha’s Creighton University I met Abdi Mohamed, a member the Somali community in Omaha, and we began discussing the controversy at the plant. Abdi, a refugee himself, had recently got US citizenship and had built a life in Omaha. He said he knew some people in Grand Island and graciously offered to take me there because he said he agreed with the mission of our project and the issues Dr. Ahmed had spoke about during the lecture—the need to improve relations between Muslims and non-Muslims.


Early the next day Abdi, Craig, and I set off on the nearly three hour drive across the state of Nebraska. We arrived in Grand Island and Abdi stopped briefly on the side of the street to pick up a Somali worker who we hoped could direct us in town. “Welcome to America!” a woman screamed from across the street. “Get moving!”

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