August 19th, 2010
03:48 PM ET
CNN's Wayne Drash filed this report:
The blue Chevy Cobalt pulled away from Atlanta, heading into toward the Muslim community of Jacksonville, Florida.
Driver Aman Ali jams to "Eye of the Tiger," his thumbs beating to the rhythm and his voice belting out along with Survivor's lead singer. His friend, Bassam Tariq, studiously reads fan emails and scans the internet.
"I just read a news piece that 1 in 5 Americans think Obama is a Muslim," Bassam says. "Isn't that crazy?"
Aman and Bassam, both young Muslims, are now one week into their journey to visit 30 mosques in 30 states during the holy month of Ramadan.
Marvin Gaye croons through the car speakers. "... Ooooo, sexual healing ..."
"The station is teasing y'all during fast," I quip.
Wednesday was spent at an African American mosque in Atlanta, the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam. The so-called ground zero mosque dominated headlines again, when New York Governor David Paterson suggesting a compromise location.
But the faithful were focused on prayer, their children and the end of the daily fast - a splendid iftar feast of whiting, green beans and rice. Little kids chased each other between picnic tables; others played hoops into the dark of night. The mosque is active in community outreach and works to feed the homeless. Every summer, it hosts an "I love my family" event for people of all faiths to gather, meet and get a better understanding of one another.
"Faith people have to stick together," said Imam Mansoor Sabree.
The car bobs down the highway. Bassam jokes about CNN commenters on an earlier blog post about the trip.
"Did you see the one guy who said 'be careful, we might try to convert you?'"
The rolling melting pot–two Muslims, a Seventh Day Adventist and a Methodist–presses on.
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