Ashland University to Host Ramadan Road Trip Program

4/5/11 ASHLAND, OH -- On Tuesday, April 12, at 7 p.m. in the Hawkins-Conard Student Center Auditorium, Ashland University will host a unique program that will highlight the adventure of Aman Ali (better known for his comedic appearances on CNN, HBO, ABC News, and NPR) and Bassam Tariq as they traveled to 30 mosques in 30 states within 30 days.

Immediately following the presentation, a discussion with Ali will follow in the Eagles' Landing of the Hawkins-Conard Student Center. This event is free and open to the public.

Last year, New Yorkers Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq's Twitter experiment of spending the holy Muslim month of Ramadan at a different New York City mosque each night blossomed into a multimedia blogging project that garnered attention from tens of thousands worldwide, http://30mosques.com.

After receiving letters of support from readers as far as South Africa, Vietnam and even Luxembourg, the two decided to venture out of New York City and hit the road to see what life was like for Muslims across the United States. Beginning on Aug. 11 in New York City, the two began their journey by spending each night of Ramadan at a different mosque in 30 states around the country. The two's route, available on http://30mosques.com, essentially took them on an outline of the entire country and concluded in Dearborn, Mich., - home to one of the largest concentrations of Muslims in the country.

"This 30 states trip was hands down one of the most rewarding - and insane - ideas that we've ever tackled in our entire lives," Ali said. "But what kept us motivated is all the support we received from our readers, who were a good mix of Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Oh, and having plenty of underwear and an iPod with hours of tunes on it helped us get through the trip too."

CNN ranked it as one of the top stories of 2010. During Ramadan 2010, Islam's holy month of fasting and reflection, Ali and Tariq took a road trip across America, stopping each evening to break their fasts at a different mosque in a different state. The two drove over 13,000 miles during the trip and blogged about it daily on their site, www.30mosques.com. During the trip they prayed inside the infamous "Ground Zero Mosque" in Manhattan, got pulled over by a cop in Mississippi, and visited the first mosque ever built in the U.S. in Ross, N.D. - a town with only 48 people in it. Along the way they met the protagonists of Dave Eggers' bestselling Zeitoun, Cambodian Muslim victims of the Khmer Rouge, a Pakistani-Mormon couple, and many, many others, all of whom are part of the diverse Muslim-American community. Their journey explores what it means to be Muslim in America today, and serves as a powerful counter-narrative to the media's image of a monolithic Islam, receiving coverage on ABC News, CNN, Time, NPR, Fox News, the Huffington Post and Aljazeera English.

Tariq is an advertising copywriter and filmmaker and Ali is a writer and standup comedian. The two are good friends and generated buzz for this project via their Facebook and Twitter accounts. To help fund the trip, the two raised over $5,000 through online and word of mouth outreach efforts.

This program is sponsored by the International Programs Division, Student Life Office, Office of Diversity and the Ashland Center for Nonviolence, all of Ashland University. For more information about this program, contact Rebecca Parillo, Global Education at Ashland University, at 419-289-5870, global@ashland.edu

Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.