Date visited: August 17, 2010
Location: Blossom Valley, San Jose, CA
5885 Santa Teresa Blvd #113
San Jose, CA 95123
Tag-team Taraweeh: No
Size of congregation: Small, > 100
Capacity of center: Very small. They had overflow prayer mats outside
Parking: Cramped. Shared with a bunch of small businesses in a strip mall
Shoe shelves: Not enough. Tons of shoes outside
Building: Tiny space in a strip mall. Definitely not sufficient.
Friendliness towards women: Could be better...while the women and men were entering the mosque from the same door and there was no barrier to hide the fairer sex, I was a bit perturbed by an announcement about the emergency exits. There are two emergency exits in the mosque, one in the front, one in the back. The dude made it clear that the one in the back was for women, and the one for men was in the front. Apparently even in an emergency they don't want men and women making contact.
Friendliness of congregation: Saw a lot of familiar faces.
Please tell me if there's any more categories on which you'd like me to report.
I've always been opposed to the concept of minarets in American mosques. First of all, those who argue that it's traditional apparently don't know that the Prophet's mosque never had a minaret while he was still alive, let alone the Ka'ba, the holiest site in Islam. However, when trying to find this mosque, I realized how useful minarets can be. Imagine that you're an out-of-towner, and say you went to Davis. You're having trouble finding this place just like you've had trouble finding your way through life. Instead of getting frustrated by the fact that all strip mall stores look alike, however, all you'd have to do is look for the minaret and you're golden.
This mosque doesn't have a minaret, by the way. I was just fortunate that because it's Ramadan there was a big enough flock of hijabis heading towards a single location that I was able to find the mosque with ease. Normally it'd be enough to follow a gaggle of brown people but in this neighborhood, that wouldn't be enough. This is the district of San Jose that's so brown it elected the city's first Desi city council member.
The first thing I noticed about this mosque was that they had prayer mats outside on the strip mall sidewalk. Big warning sign of how crowded it was going to get, and I patted myself on the back for being smart and arriving early. The second thing I noticed was that the carpet was very familiar: it was the same carpet as MCA. The third thing I noticed was that the imam leading taraweeh at this mosque was one of MCA's resident imams. The carpet and the imam were enough to convince me that this mosque is MCA, Jr.
And this is a junior mosque. In terms of square footage it's smaller than the average 3 bedroom house. Despite the small size and the lack of a non-carpeted surface, however, it seems like the Muslims down here know how to have a good time. They have plenty of community iftars and have lectures down here all the time. I must imagine clean-up must be a bitch because it's not easy avoiding spills on a carpeted surface, but hey, they make it work.
After 8 rakats I jetted, but I stuck around to watch the people outside who were praying. They seemed incredibly serene, and it struck me that they're closest to the Prophetic taraweeh than anyone else in the entire Bay Area. The Prophet's first mosque didn't have doors; for all practical purposes, it was an outdoor mosque. I'm just glad for them that Ramadan's moving into the summer months; I can't imagine how terrible winter Ramadans will be if they don't get a new center. I'm actually surprised they haven't been able to expand into the neighboring stores; given the high rate of small business failures you'd think they could buy them out. I guess this is one neighborhood where business are actually sticking around, because as far as I know, this mosque is at least 7 years old.