Ayman Alkayali lives in Cleveland, Ohio and his Algebra Tea House has become an eclectic business which brings together the community in an honest area to share tea and discuss fundamental issues that have separated our society, especially the erroneous beliefs fostered towards muslims around the world.
Alkayali is a Palestinean immigrant who came to the United States seeking to pursue his artistic dreams and after finishing his business administration degree decided to open a coffee-house. Most of the decorations, tables and all the essentials of the shop were designed and built by himself. Once he finished the work on the shop, he realized he did not have the capital to buy a cappuccino machine, reason why his friends suggested that instead of a coffee-house he should sell tea. That is how the Algebra Tea House began.
Now the tea house is the only non italian business of the area, and most of the community not only approves but considers the tiny tea house as a fundamental part of their neighborhood.
Algebra has become much more than a simple tea house, it now fosters poets, activists, writers, philosophers and simple people who come to enjoy Arabic tea and deep conversations which are aimed to naturally expand understanding of our society and the different tensions built by modern media.
"Without the customers we don’t exist: The thinkers and the photographers, and the sculptors and the writers; the poets and the civil rights activists. You hear different languages here, and people are not afraid of discussion."
Alkayali has rediscovered the depth and beauty of Islam teaching and one of his main efforts is to teach Arabic to muslims interested in reading the Koran and to provide a realistic vision of what Islam really teaches.
"Our duty as Muslims is to do what we do here, which is to promote good before evil. The media can sing hatred and war and fear all day long, but it comes down to this: ‘What are you doing? How did you improve the neighbourhood? Are you taking care of your neighbours? Are you helping a person if he’s not from your faith? If you see something wrong, are you stopping it? If you see something right, are you promoting it?’"
Algebra Tea House is a perfect example of how local businesses can have a more profound influence in our society by providing areas of healthy dialogue that can bring people to a more clear understanding of our differences and similarities. Thank you Alkayali for serving tea and understanding.
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