Saturday, August 21, 2010

South Valley Islamic Center

Date visited: August 20, 2010

Location: San Martin, CA (where? Ha, I know, it's kind of out there.  Think Morgan Hill. Where? Shut up.)
14770 Columbet Ave.
San Martin, CA 95046

Tag-team Taraweeh: Yes

Qirat: Good

Size of congregation: Tiny. < 30

Capacity of center: More than sufficient for the community

Parking: That's a problem. I was able to find a parking spot because I always come early to unfamiliar mosques, but the lot was full while the mosque wasn't. Also, since it's San Martin, street parking isn't an option because those country roads don't exactly have shoulders.

Mihrab: No

Minbar: No

Shoe shelves: Yes, but for some reason, nobody uses them. I placed my shoes on the shelves next to the only other pair, and saw that those flip-flops had cobwebs all over it. Guess the mosque left a demo pair on the shelves to show folks that they're shoe shelves.

Building: A ranch house

Friendliness towards women: Top notch. From their website: "There is also a women's club that meets regularly at one of the member’s home. Its charter includes, among other social activities, to promote women's interests and participation in the affairs of the mosque and those of the greater community." Active women, gotta love 'em.

Friendliness of congregation: Good. Smaller communities tend to be less exclusive and more welcoming.

This place is exceedingly difficult to find. First of all, I don't know if it's because the ranchers want the animals to sleep, there's no lights on any of the roads. The street signs are tiny and the address markers even smaller. I drove past this place simply because the addresses are so hard to read.

It turns out the mosque is really a ranch house on the back of a community member's property. This definitely made it harder to find, but it was also easy to figure out I'd come to the right place because it was the only place within miles with its lights on. Much love to ranchers and their early bedtimes for making my life a tiny bit easier.

As I entered the center I saw a sign which told me another name for this outfit is the Cordoba Center. Oh, why oh why couldn't the residents of San Martin have declared this ranch house to be a national landmark? They could have stopped these evil Muslims from performing their nefarious prayers right under their noses in a place named after Cordoba, of all places. Cordoba, where the Muslims violated a church by turning it into a mosque. Cordoba, birthplace of Averroes, who made the works of Aristotle accessible to Europe in the Middle Ages...whoops, Fox News forgets to mention that bit of Islamic history.

Anyways, I liked how congenial the congregation was. The person who read the iqama at the beginning of the prayer was an eight-year-old boy, which I thought was simply adorable. You just don't see stuff like that at larger mosques. The recitation was solid because even though the imams were Desi, they didn't rush like the other imams.

Tell you what, stepping outside after prayers to the smell of animal dung made me think of Pakistan. If these folks set out to replicate the mosques of their motherland, they succeeded.

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