Thursday, August 19, 2010

Al-Hilaal Islamic Charitable Foundation

Date visited: 8/19/2010

Location: Milpitas, CA
90 Dempsey Road
Milpitas, CA 95035

Tag-team Taraweeh: No, just one imam

Size of congregation: < 400

Capacity of center: Too small

Parking: Parking is in the charming strip mall parking lot. The mosque shares the lot with numerous liquor stores and even a night club. I wouldn't drive anything new than a 2005 model or else my car would get keyed for sticking out like a sore thumb.

Mihrab: Yes

Minbar: Yes

Shoe shelves: Not enough

Building: Two units in a strip mall.

Friendliness towards women: Separate entrance for women. No way for the women to look into the men's section; folks in these here parts don't believe in one-way mirrors.

Friendliness of congregation: Meh, it's mostly a bunch of old Desi guys wearing kurtas. If we'd been inside a cave in Afghanistan these guys would have fit right in. The guy sitting next to me did offer to share his bottled water with me, so it's important to remember not to judge these books by their covers.

The first thing you notice after you step out of your car is the smell of garbage.  No, that's not the putrid parking lot, that's just Milpitas.  Milpitas is where the trash of the Bay Area goes, and no, I don't mean that it's where the Davis grads of the Bay Area go.  However, it would be terribly unfair of me to dock points from this masjid because of its location.

"Insha'allah I will say insha'allah at the end of every sentence, insha'allah."

That's the prayer the guy making the announcements must have said to himself before he got up to speak.  Seriously, his insha'allah-to-sentence ratio must have been at least 3:1.  It always troubles me when I find that an established mosque such as this one can't find someone articulate to do their announcements.

And this is an established mosque, founded a while back in one of the wealthier parts of the Bay Area.  However, the mosque looks like a piece of crap.  Yes, I realize that when mosque foundations are starting out they're thrilled to have even one storefront property to call their own.  However, after ten plus years, it's wholly unacceptable to be running a joint which is too small for the congregation in terms of size and facilities.  I'm truly curious to find out why they haven't been able to find a nicer place.  I took a look at their website and it turns out to rent this dump they have to pay 8,000 dollars a month.  That's 8,000 dollars down the drain.

The Silicon Valley is a ghost of its former self.  Back in the dot-com heydey, developers built hundreds of new offices buildings to keep up with the booming number of start-ups.  As soon as the dot-com bubble burst, these buildings quickly became vacant.  Most of them are to this day still vacant, and because they have been empty for so long their rents have severely deflated.  If this foundation was smart, they would lease one of those buildings and custom remodel it to suit the needs of their community.

But whatever man, it's not my mosque.  If they want to stay in a facility where they've had to etch new lines into the carpet to compress the congregation into that small space, that's their prerogative.

1 comment:

  1. I go to this mosque (it's my local mosque) and the board has been looking for alternate locations for quite some while now. Also, this huge crowd only appears one month a year...besides that, the mosque size is quite sufficient (now that there's 2 jummuahs). Anyhow, once we have that many people coming on a daily basis, insha'Allah, then it'll make sense to rent out a bigger place. Right now, I'm just not seeing the point. The mosque is a place of five-times-a-day prayer, not a once-a-week Church or a once-a-year Eid ground.

    Oh, and thanks for not judging us by our looks : ) Actually, masha'Allah, this community is like a small village, and is very close to each other. There's no politics. It's just a bunch of friendly people, alhamdulilah. Also, it's open pretty much 24/7 (as a mosque should be): anyone who wants to make i'tikaaf there can do so whenever they want, without any kind of board permission or whatever. Also, there are usually a few people in the masjid all the time, so it's almost never empty alhamdulilah.