Happy New Month! Welcome April!
New month means *drumroll* new Muslimah spotlight!! This month’s Muslimah of the Month is Sally Elbassir of Passport and Plates! So without further ado….grab a snack and let’s chat!
UK: So tell us a bit about who you are? Where you are from?
SE: Hi, I’m Sally, the Arab-American Muslim foodie traveler behind Passport & Plates. I was born in Ireland and grew up in the U.S., but I’m ethnically Egyptian and Sudanese, so I consider myself of a bit of a “multicultural mutt.” I speak three languages, and when I’m not traveling or blogging, you’ll find me whipping up some random concoction in the kitchen, clumsily dancing salsa and tango, or curled up with my cat and favorite book.
UK: What 3 languages do you speak?
SE: English, Arabic, and Spanish.
UK: Cool! Looking back at last year what would you say was your favorite destination?
SE: I was fortunate to have visited so many amazing places in 2016, but Valencia, Spain was by far my favorite. I ended up there completely unexpectedly and stayed for an entire summer. This is what a typical day in Valencia was like for me.
UK: Nice, I’ve yet to visit Europe. In shaa Allah soon though. Are you able to travel with family/friends at times?
SE: Yes, thankfully! My family and many of my friends love to travel, so I get a nice mix of solo travel and traveling with others.
UK: What are some of the most interesting meals you’ve eaten (good and bad)?
SE: Hmm I’d have to say one of the worst “interesting” things I’ve eaten is balut (duck embryo), a popular street food in the Philippines that is served throughout Southeast Asia. Never again.
The best interesting meal I’ve eaten is the grilled cod from Bar Zeruko in San Sebastian, Spain. It’s served on a mini grill with a side of bread and cream-based sauce. So delicious!
UK: I’ve seen balut on Survivor during the eating challenges, so I tip my hat to you lol. I don’t think I could have tried it. Being a seasoned traveler, what place have you not yet been to that you’re itching to visit?
SE: Can I change “place” to “places?”
UK: Lol, sure!
SE: There are SO many that are on my list including (but not limited to) South Africa, Cuba, Colombia, Antarctica and Oman.
UK: What are your blog/life aspirations for 2017?
SE: I actually wrote a whole post about this but iA 2017 will be the year of the Middle East and North Africa. I hope to show others that the Middle East isn’t just one big danger zone and encourage people to experience the culture and religion for themselves. I also hope to encourage more Muslims to travel as well because the more of us that are out there shattering stereotypes, the better.
UK: How has being Muslim influenced your travel adventures?
SE: Because I don’t wear a hijab, people I travel with only realize I’m Muslim when I turn down drinks or pork. Traveling while Muslim often means answering lots of questions about religion, especially in relation to world events. However, I really don’t mind this, since it provides me with a small platform to explain (and demonstrate) that there is no “typical” Muslim – nor or we all out to destroy the world.
UK: Do you find yourself able to educate others on Islam while traveling?
SE: Yes, actually, which is nice. I’ve found that the average person is more curious about Islam than anything – namely what the religion is about, how it’s practiced, and its unfortunate connection with extremist groups. People seem to have an idea to who a “typical Muslim” is, and since I don’t meet this idea, I often get lots of questions about religion, culture, etc. I honestly feel like it’s super important for more Muslims to travel so we can all break stereotypes across the world.
UK: What were/are your initial fears regarding traveling to new locations?
SE: Funny enough, I always get a little bit anxious before traveling to a new place, which I know is a bit surprising coming from someone who travels as often as I do. It’s rarely about something in particular, but it’s just the anxiety and excitement that comes along with going to a new place.
UK: Growing up were you an outgoing child?
SE: Definitely not. I was both shy and introverted. Now I’m less shy but still an introvert.
UK: I hear you lol. So, why Islam? As an adult what attracts you to Islam?
SE: Well, I was born and raised Muslim and grew up learning about Islam from when I was very young. To me, it’s a religion and way of life that makes sense. One that provides guidelines on morality and compassion. It’s provided me the foundation to be confident in the decisions I make, despite not always knowing (or being able to imagine) the outcome of said decisions.
UK: What is your biggest struggle when it comes to your faith?
SE: I’m on the road a lot, and praying on time while traveling is an unfortunate struggle, even while praying Salah Qasr. To be honest, Places You’ll Pray has really inspired me to be better about praying anywhere.
UK: What would you say keeps you grounded in your faith?
SE: Faith is a relationship between a person and God and that’s it. It’s part of who I am, what I do, and how I make decisions. It’s part of my everyday life and it’s so tied into how I live that I think it keeps me grounded no matter where I am or who I’m with.
UK: I always like to end with this question…What is an interesting fact about you that most people don’t know?
SE: I’m actually quite the introvert and can be really shy. Most people think I’m really outgoing but the truth is that I’m much more comfortable hanging out in small groups and don’t like being the center of attention. It’s ironic that I ended up blogging because it’s creating this brand on the guise that people actually care what you write or think, which doesn’t quite fit with my introversion. But at the end of the day, it provides me with a way to connect with other amazing, like-minded people who I would have never connected with otherwise, so I’m (usually) fine being outside my comfort zone.
To connect more with Sally look no further —> Instagram: @passportandplates. Website: passportandplates.com