Thursday, August 26, 2010

ARIC

Date visited: August 26, 2010

Location: Haystack, CA
29414 Mission Boulevard
Hayward, CA‎ 94544

Tag-team Taraweeh: No

Qirat: Great. It was also refreshing to hear a middle-aged man's voice after a week of hearing old men and children.

Size of congregation: < 200

Capacity of center: ~ 600

Parking: Plentiful, but the lot filled up. There's lots of street parking, though.

Mihrab: Yes

Minbar: Yes

Shoe shelves: Yes

Building: Another masjid that looks like it's been built from the ground up. Beautiful structure.

Friendliness towards women: The only indication I had that there were even women there tonight was a sign for the ladies' restroom. Otherwise I didn't see any women. Granted, I did come only a couple minutes before the prayer, but still, there was strict separation of the sexes.

Friendliness of congregation: Gays have their gaydar and Afghans have their Desidar. I think they knew as soon as I saw me that I was Pakistani so the reception was a tad cool.

The first thing I saw was the sign: "Abu Bakr as-Saddiq Mosque", underneath which was written "ARIC." The only name I knew this place by was the former, so I thought for a second what ARIC could mean. I felt a flash of guilt because, could it mean...? I texted my Afghan insider and got an answer.

Yes, ARIC stands for Afghan Refugee Islamic Community. It really shouldn't surprise me that the Afghans have embraced their refugee status. Back in college whenever anyone in the CalMSA needed help with their FAFSA the go-to guys were the Afghans.

This mosque is a giant middle finger to the Russians who made the Afghans refugees in the first place. I mean, what it seemed to be saying was yes, we are exiles now, but we're sure as hell not losing our culture. This place is eye-candy; the facade was covered in tiles and the domes were lit up to make the building seem prettier. I was even more impressed with what I found inside. The Afghans went all out with the interior in that the mihrab looked like it'd been stripped from a mosque back home. I also loved how the walls were lined with tiles painted with Islamic calligraphy. The minbar and podium were made of wood, both of which had intricate designs etched into them. It was a fantastic place to visit because clearly the community spent a lot of time and resources building it.

3 comments:

  1. Salam Zuhair - Ramadan mubarak. Maybe for the remaining mosques you can post pictures? JAK - M. Subeh

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  2. Wasalam, Dr. Subeh :D When I first started this project I was debating whether or not I should take pictures. I ultimately decided not to because a lot of people are really sensitive about that kind of stuff. I want my visits to be as low-key as possible, and I can just sense that some congregations would flip out if a stranger suddenly started taking pictures inside the masjid.
    However, I am cognizant of the fact that words are not enough to express the beauty of some of these masajid. I'll start taking a camera along and just make good judgment calls.

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  3. The calligraphy inside ARIC is also pretty symbolic. It's Surah Rahman. On the outside is also the names of the 4 khulafaa' raashideen.

    You'll find shi'ah afghans praying here without a problem. It's a VERY traditional mosque.

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