Date visited: August 27, 2010
Location: Hayward, CA
185 Folsom Avenue
Hayward, CA 94544
Tag-team Taraweeh: Father-son partnership
Size of congregation: < 300
Capacity of center: < 500
Parking: Plenty on the inside, but I parked on the street.
Shoe shelves: Yes
Building: It fits right into the neighborhood...if you ignore the minaret. This minaret does for this masjid what I imagine MCA's soon-to-be-completed minaret will do for it. It makes it distinctive because really, the building fits into the neighborhood pretty well.
Friendliness towards women: They had a separate section, seemed large enough.
Friendliness of congregation: Ran into a friendly face, but again, everyone was Afghan and they seemed to prefer to communicate in their own language.
The location of this masjid puzzles me. Yesterday, I visited an Afghan masjid on Mission Blvd. This too is an Afghan masjid, and I had to take the same exit off the freeway as I did yesterday. In fact, these two mosques are less than a mile apart. This would make complete sense to me if both masajid had been full to the brim; why not make two mosques in the same area to deal with capacity issues, right? But no, neither mosque was full and the one I visited yesterday was almost half-empty.
There MAY be politics involved. That's one plausible explanation because it doesn't makes sense that two groups of the same ethnicity and religious backgrounds wouldn't form one organization...unless there was beef. The Afghans are a very tribal folk...
Okay, now I'm going way into conjecture. What I did notice about this masajid was that despite the overwhelming Afghan population, the short speech before the prayer was in English. Additionally, I was amused by the fact that as soon as the speech ended, the imam and his son walked into the room and took their places at the front of the room. It had to be coordinated.
It turns out the imam is raising a family of huffaz; I actually heard his other son the other night in Fremont, apparently. If anything, this and the fact that the speech was done in English showed me that Afghan-Desi relations are not as fraught as they're sometimes made out to be. There's plenty of home-spun racism in Pakistan against the Afghans but it gladdens my heart to see it hasn't impacted the East Bay communities.
One perk of going to this masjid is you get free food after 20 rakats. I'm not pointing that out so you can go for the grub; it's just another sign of this community's generosity.