Date visited: August 23, 2010
Location: Saint Matthew, CA
228 N. Ellsworth Ave
San Mateo, CA 94401
Tag-team Taraweeh: No, just the one imam. He also had longer hair than me so I felt like I fit in better here than at other masajid :D
Size of congregation: < 30
Capacity of center: < 200
Parking: Pretty much only street. However, the Caltrain station is a few short blocks away.
Mihrab: Only decorative, not functional
Shoe shelves: Yes
Building: A converted house, very similar to the SBIA Center in terms of appearance.
Friendliness towards women: This is the only mosque I have ever seen where the front entrance was reserved for women and women only. Good for them!
Friendliness of congregation: Extreme. I had a very nice conversation with two gentlemen who quickly noticed I wasn't a regular. I explained my mission, received their masha'allahs with grace and learned a lot about the mosque. The younger one, upon hearing I had gone to Berkeley, started playing the do-you-know game with me ("Why, in fact, I DO know William Hung!")
I've always wondered how California would look if its cities had been renamed by white folks. Santa Clara would become Saint Claire, San Mateo Saint Matthew and San Francisco Saint Francis. Actually, I'm glad they didn't rename the cities; Saint Francis doesn't seem a noble enough name for a city with such a rich history. Plus, instead of Frisco the locals would call it Frank, which would be wholly unacceptable.
But I digress. This masjid appears to be a converted house because it's located in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Unlike SBIA, they do not have partnerships with local businesses for parking so I was stuck looking for street parking. It wasn't too big of a deal; after you've dealt with the parking nightmare at MCA everything else is a joke.
The masjid is beautiful, simply gorgeous. I love the fact that they took the time and money to make it actually look like a masjid. Also, since there weren't too many people there, it was quite serene. Some masajid simply invoke feelings of peace because of their idyllic nature; this was definitely one of them.
The community is also very diverse. Both of the insiders I spoke to told me that the community is composed of a variety of ethnicities and they're always looking for more people to welcome. They commended me for my mission to visit a different mosque every night but at the same time insisted that I come again (with friends) to enjoy their iftar. It's stuff like that you just don't see at the bigger mosques.
I'm also a huge fan of how they handled taraweeh. Before he began, the imam pretty much summarized the translation of the verses he was about to read. I've commented before on the benefit of going over the translation beforehand and I respect this mosque for taking the same approach. The difference between this mosque and Stanford was that there were little kids praying as well. I would imagine especially for the little kids to hear the stories of the Quran in a language they can understand is very beneficial for them.
Guess there's just something about the peninsula Muslims; they sure know how to build solid mosques.