Eastwick Ummah

What do you think of when you think of Muslims? Who do you picture when someone says American Muslim? Chances are you are not picturing the largest demographic of American-born Muslims in the United States: Black American Muslims. “Eastwick Ummah,” is a celebration and journalistic look at my hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey. An ummah is a community of Muslims who live and care for each other. To our community, Islam was nothing out of the ordinary. Once 9/11 left its mark on the United States, many Black Muslims found themselves suddenly at odds with the images being poured out of the screen. Even now, the idea of who and what a Muslim is has been twisted and convoluted to fit a narrative that is inconsistent with what the reality is. This project seeks to peel back the curtain on everyday Black Muslim family lives and show just one piece of the American ummah, Eastwick style.

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Masjid Darul Islam, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, resides in what was once one of the first governor’s mansions in the state. Later converted into the all-girls school Vail Dean, when it closed, many community members came together to raise the funds to turn it into the city’s first major Mosque.
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A young man sits in prayer on Friday at Jumu'ah (congregational prayer) before the Khutbah (sermon). Muslims offer prayer when they first enter the mosque.
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The Women’s Entrance. Women use the men’s entrance, but it leads to the mid floor of the building, where the kitchen is. This door leads to the bottom level where the women’s prayer room is.
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A father teaches his son how to pray. Rukū is the position in which Muslims Bow deeply during salat (prayer).
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Sister Linda attends Jumah at Darul Islam. Food is commonly served after services, with the donations going to the Mosque.
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Imam Ali Jaaber in his office. Jaaber is from a long line of Black American Sunni Muslims, including Hesham Jaaber, who led the funeral services for Malcom X. Black Muslims have been a strong part of the city as early as the 1930s.

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