Date visited: August 30, 2010
Location: Oakland, CA
1005 7th. St.
Tag-team Taraweeh: Nope
Size of congregation: Surprisingly large
Capacity of center: < 200
Shoe shelves: Yes, one of which was stolen from a retail store because they still had mylar stickers on them.
Building: A converted commercial building. Surrounded by a wrought-iron fence. However, they do have a basketball hoop, which is nice.
Friendliness towards women: Son, if you come here, do not go through the black door in the front. It may look like the main entrance because it's the only door facing the street, but it's the women's entrance. I didn't see any women (God forbid) because there were stairs leading up to their section. It did seem like the women were out-of-sight and out-of-mind, though. Definitely not like IKIC in Fremont, where women were literally inching into the men's section to hear Zaid Shakir speak.
Friendliness of congregation: Incredible. Oh my God, incredible. I did iftar here and they would not stop feeding me. One of the men actually got upset because he thought I hadn't eaten. He thought that because he hadn't actually seen me eat. Arab hospitality, man, can't beat it.
"What did you study at Berkeley?"
I was stunned by the question. I turned around to face the person who asked me.
"How did you know I went to Berkeley?"
How did he know?? Did he smell the stench of my rejection from Stanford, even after all these years? Did he notice the worry lines permanently etched on my face from being put on too many waitlists for classes?
He smiled and pointed at my lanyard, which was sticking out of my pocket (on the left side, because that's the Crip side). Duh, my Cal lanyard.
It turns out this gentleman played ball at the D-1 level, even squaring off against Cal once. Yep, he played for USF...the Don one, not the Bull one. He and I had a fantastic conversation about his career and what he was up to these days.
See, he was representative of this congregation. It was exceedingly Arab--as I rounded the corner of the mosque someone asked me in Arabic and not English if I'd eaten--but everyone was charming. They seemed genuinely happy to see me and were happy to welcome me to their community.
The center itself is surprisingly large. I guess I never thought that the congregation in this neighborhood could be so large. It is just a mosque and not a community center, but still, when you have a basketball court on your property you clearly have community in mind.