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"30 Mosques" Project Comes to D.C.

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By Sanaz Meshkinpour

For the Muslim month of Ramadan, two bloggers have taken on a mission: to visit 30 mosques, in 30 states, in 30 days--while fasting. The bloggers made a stop in DC.

It's been five days, and standing outside Masjid Muhammad in Shaw, New York-bloggers Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq are hungry and tired. It may seem like a strange way to road trip across the United States, but Ali says they wanted to write about Muslims outside their New York bubble.

"Because when you hear muslim, what does that mean?" Ali said. "You know, who is that? where is that person from? We're just trying to show people that we're 3-dimensional characters."

And for their DC-stop, they chose the majority-black mosque in Shaw.

"This mosque has such rich history," Ali said.

Including its founding 75 years ago by W.D. Muhammad, who helped transition the Nation of Islam to mainstream Sunni Islam.

The mosque's imam, Tariq Najee-ullah, says they've remained a neighborhood fixture by offering all of their services to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

"And this is not just in the month of Ramadan," Najee-ullah said. "We also have regular classes, regular activities to engage the community."

That includes meals to feed the elderly and marginalized, neighborhood cleanup and even basketball.

At sundown, loudspeakers announce the call to prayer. Ali and Tariq shuffle into the mosque's basement and finally break their fast with water and dates.

For more information, visit the "30 Mosques" website.

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