Journalist Omar Mouallem travels to thirteen remarkable mosques and discovers the surprising history of their communities. But what he finds also challenges his own long-held personal beliefs, and even his sense of identity.

“Until recently, Muslim identity was imposed on me. But I feel different about my religious heritage in the era of ISIS and Trumpism, Rohingya and Uyghur genocides, ethnonationalism and misinformation. I’m compelled to reclaim the thing that makes me a target. I’ve begun to examine Islam closely with an eye for how it has shaped my values, politics, and connection to my roots. No doubt, Islam has a place within me. But do I have a place within it?”

Omar Mouallem grew up in a Muslim household, but always questioned the role of Islam in his life. As an adult…


If the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem means “the furthest,” then does that mean that the Midnight Sun Mosque on the literal edge of the Arctic Circle is the new Al-Aqsa?

Maybe not by exact distance from Mecca (that distinction belongs to Southland Muslim Association in Invercargill, New Zealand). Nor is it as it advertises, “the northernmost mosque in the world” (older and much larger mosques in Norilsk, Siberia vying for that title).

But there’s no doubt that the Midnight Sun is the world’s most isolated mosque, having travelled 4,000 km from where it was built, including 1,500 km on water…

If this is a book you’ll buy, I’d be grateful if you ordered a presale today. Preorders are one of the best ways you can support an author. Because they’re counted as first-week sales, they can make or break a book.

Photo by Shayne Woodsmith

Omar Mouallem is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. He’s reported on Muslim and Middle Eastern issues for The Guardian, The Ringer, and WIRED, coauthored the national bestseller Inside the Inferno: A Firefighter’s Story of the Brotherhood that Saved Fort McMurray, and dIrected two documentaries. His forthcoming film, The Last Baron, exposes the the unlikely connection between the Lebanese civil war and a rogue burger chain.

In 2013, he was honoured with the city’s Northlands Emerging Artist of the Year award and served as the Edmonton Public Library’s Writer in Residence. Avenue put him on its annual Top 40 Under 40…


Photo by Omar Mouallem (©2017)

The Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem is charged with symbolism and contention. Often overlooked is the significance of its location on Temple Mount (Harem al-Sharif) to Prophet Muhammad’s first followers, who prostrated toward Jerusalem years before making Mecca the Muslim capital.

Islam is, as it was conceived, an offshoot of the Abrahamic faith, and fundamentally as “western” a religion as Judaism and Christianity.

The name simply means “The Furthest Mosque,” but of course it’s not the furthest anymore. That would be the Southland Muslim Association in Invercargill, New Zealand.

Earlier this year, Edmonton City Councillor Jon Dziadyk (Ward 3) proposed naming a green space in the north side neighbourhood Beaumaris after Kahlil Gibran. You can read about the plan and community group with whom Coun. Dziadyk has partnered in this blog.

The Councilor’s office is preparing a package to submit to Edmonton’s Naming Committee. If, like me, you want to see this plan realized, please draft a of letter support to Coun. Dziadyk at, or to the mailing address below.

Here’s the letter I sent today.

December 2, 2020

Jon Dziadyk, City Hall
1 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Edmonton, AB…

Credit: Pixabay / Pexels

In 2012, I made the leap into full-time freelance writing. It was six years in the making. I eased toward the career shift after gaining enough experience and connections as a magazine editor. Still, I worried that I might not have the self-discipline and self-motivation to sustain a freelance career. Leading up to my first official day of self-employment, I organized my story ideas in a spreadsheet that doubled as a business plan.

Looking back at it now, this spreadsheet was essential for longevity. It helped me get organized and stay organized. …

This blog was originally published by Third Verb in October 2016.

I took on an interesting assignment for Reader’s Digest this summer. It was not a career-changing story and few readers outside of the magazine industry would even notice my byline, let alone remember me for it.

It was a 2,200-word “Drama in Real Life” feature about a five-year-old girl who saved her mother and baby brother from a traumatic car accident. It was, by then, a year-old news story that had been reported on in far fewer words by virtually every Canadian media source and countless English-language tabloids, including…

A letter from a perennial villain is discovered. A tragedy transpires.

Screen actor Frank Lackteen headshot (C.P. Corp. headshot, c. 1926)

Who said LinkedIn was useless? Me — I did! — up until a few weeks ago when I found an unread months-old message from Jennifer Chan Yih, a data scientist who discovered an old letter inside an antique typewriter displayed at the Grape Leaf Inn in Northern California.

I’m reaching out because I found a typewriter at the inn I am staying at, and with it, there appears to be a letter written by Frank Lackteen. I saw online that you’re a distant relative of his.

Indeed, Frank (born…

Source: YouTube / Lingerie Fighting Championships

The article was originally published as “The Man Behind the Camera” in the June 2015 issue of Alberta Venture. Copyright belongs to the author.

The smell of leather and sweat filling the Beverly Bronx Boxing Club is quickly ­forgotten when Kris “The Raven” Blackwell arrives. Tall and busty, with a ferocious and gothic look that clashes with red pants and puckering painted lips, she enters the locker room late, dragging a small suitcase. …

Omar Mouallem

Author, journalist, and documentary filmmaker

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