Ask Me Anything – I’m Muslim!
Aman Ali was raised in Ohio and as he describes, he “was the only brown kid” in his school. As a result, he has spent his lifetime explaining his Muslim faith to others and has learned to do so with sensitivity, humor, and an open heart. There are NO questions that he won’t field as he has likely answered them before! If you or your students wonder what Islam is to a Muslim guy who lives in New York City, who Muslims worship, what it is like to fast at Ramadan (even from a young age), what happens at the mosque, how dating works, why some Muslims don’t touch alcohol and some do, why Muslims come from many different ethnic backgrounds, how praying in a language he doesn’t speak fluently is important, and why Mecca is a goal for Muslims, THIS presentation (which is largely discussion) is for you! Aman presents a crash course in Islam 101 (in a playful way) and then fields questions (participants drop questions in a hat or ask at a mic – or you can have a moderator ask questions to him instead.)
30 Mosques in 30 Days: An American Adventure
We can only imagine how diverse the US is! Aman Ali and his friend, Bassam Tariq, were inspired to find out, so during Ramadan 2011 (and 2010), Islam’s holy month of fasting and reflection, these two young New Yorkers took a road trip across America (including Hawaii and Alaska), stopping to break fast at a different mosque in a different state each day. The two drove thousands of miles to 30 states each year and blogged about it daily on their web site. During the 2011 trip, they met an incredible diverse Muslim community in Anchorage, Alaska who are struggling to build a mosque, hung out with a woman in Washington who claims to be both Christian and Muslim, ate dinner with wildly popular hip hop artist Brother Ali in Minnesota, and broke out of their shells to try to understand women’s perspective on Islam at a mosque in Arkansas. 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, the BBC, CNN, Time, NPR, Fox News, Huffington Post and Al-Jazeera English.
Stand Up Comedy
Aman is a journalist by day, but a stand up comedian almost any other hour of the day! He is a superb storyteller and his humor crosses all faith, ethnic and age groups. His “funny bone” has been featured on HBO and in countless comedy venues around the world. (Be sure to see Aman’s stand up sample below.)
“I really can’t say enough about what a great presentation Aman gave last night. I think the opening stories and comedy made students so much more comfortable to be engaged. A coworker and I actually noticed a lack of uncomfortable shifting in seats and the accompanying squeaking as the night went on. I was proud of our students for asking good questions – Aman did a great job of making it a comfortable environment to ask anything. I think the work Aman is doing is so important and it was awesome to see students get that, too. It’s been awesome to work with you – we meet again in January to start our discussion of next year’s IEW lineup, so I’ll be reviewing your website. Thanks for being so helpful and easy to work with.” – Samantha Fracka, Marketing and Web Specialist, International Programs, Missouri State University
“Splendid is really too conservative of a word to describe what Aman did yesterday. He is really good at reading an audience and was supremely engaging. Thank you for providing us with this opportunity–Definitely money well spent!” – Administrator, Ashland University
“It was one of the best events I have ever been to at my university (and I go to almost one a day). The two presenters were great speakers and kept it interesting.” -Student, DePauw University
“You guys inspire me and I think what you are doing is just amazing!” -Student, Model United Nations conference
“Hearing the story of your journey reminded us how amazing being a Muslim American actually is. It was nice to hear the stories of Muslim families trying to make it in the US. Nicely done!” – Student, Loyola College
“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You injected energy, love, light and life in my soul. Thank you!” – Community member
“For the first time I felt like I could really connect in a way with those who follow the Muslim faith. Their use of humor was, I thought, a much more effective tactic for engaging others in inquiring further into Muslim-American identity than typical news stories, which tend to promote misunderstanding and fear. Laughing at or with something makes it seem much more approachable. I really appreciated Aman and Bassam’s use of humor in telling a story that not many non-Muslims would initially be able to relate to.” (Student, DePauw University)
“I absolutely loved your presentation! It was really awesome to learn that underneath all the media coverage, reality is actually better than what the media is presenting. Thanks for coming out here!” -Student, UNCA
“Saw you guys last night at Harvard and thought your presentation was fantastic!” – Student, Harvard University
“I think it is great what you guys are doing and you also inspired me to embrace my religion more than I do – thanks guys!” – Student, Ramapo College