Tuesday, August 17, 2010

San Ramon Valley Islamic Center

Date visited: August 16, 2010

Location: San Ramon, CA (as if you couldn't tell from the name)
2232 Camino Ramon
San Ramon, CA 94583

Number of imams: 2

Qirat: Both imams were solid, though the second one, who also seemed older, was a bit better. He was also reciting a bit faster, which I've started to think is a sign of experience amongst Desi imams, haha.

Size of congregation: Moderately large. 400 folks?

Capacity of center: Enough, for now. I learned from my pal that the center had purchased the building across the street for expansion purposes.

Parking: Plenty. It's in a suburban commercial center so there was nobody there at night.

Mihrab: Yep

Minbar: Yep

Shoe shelves: NOT ENOUGH. There were maybe 20; each rack had maybe three pairs of shoes in it.

Building: A converted commercial office building. They've made it really classy on the inside, though, you wouldn't know you're in a converted building.

Friendliness towards women: Quite. The women's section was nice and ample, and while I didn't see any, I'm sure they were there.

Friendliness of congregation: Quite. Folks will shake your hands if you stick it out.

Please tell me if there's any categories on which you'd like me to report.

Came here at the behest of my good friend Icon, who promised me I wouldn't be disappointed. We started by doing Maghrib prayer at the San Ramon mosque. The first thing that struck me was how few people were in attendance. The mosques of the MCA are overflowing with worshippers these days; sometimes it's so crowded people have to wait for others to leave before they can pray. Here there were maybe 10 people in attendance, which tells me that the San Ramon community is not centralized around a mosque. Most people live so far away from the mosque that if they drove to the mosque for Maghrib and drove back home, they would have almost no time to eat before coming back for Isha at 9:30. Can't blame them, really.

The mosque is NICE. It looks like an old office in a large commercial complex, but on the inside there's nice plush carpeting and a really nice ambiance in general. I loved the fact that the mosque leadership played with the lighting depending on what prayer was being read; for all of taraweeh we were shrouded in darkness with no light except a few romantic bulbs on the wall. It was all very nice, something bigger centers don't replicate as they resort to using cold white fluorescent bulbs for lighting.

Tag-team taraweeh? You know it. The first imam seemed a little shaky, I don't know if that's the reason why the second imam stepped in, but you could tell he was having trouble remembering that part of the Quran. Again, highlights the difficulty of reciting the Quran in prayer.

The center has purchased a building across the street, which I think is a good move. See, here's why I like MCA. It's not just a mosque, it's a whole center. You want to get married? They can do that. Do you want food? There's a restaurant located within the building. The problem with the San Ramon center is all I saw was a prayer space, which is great, don't get me wrong, especially since it seemed big enough to hold the congregation. The thing is, in this day and age, Muslim organizations need entire community centers which is more than just a place to pray. It ensures that their congregation will come to the mosque at times other prayer times without having rent out expensive city community centers.

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