Date visited: August 24, 2010
Location: Fremont, CA
4673 Thornton Ave. Suite M
Fremont, CA 94536
Tag-team Taraweeh: No
Size of congregation: < 50
Capacity of center: ~ 100
Shoe shelves: Yes
Building: A unit in a strip mall. However, it was unique in that the congregation was praying perpendicular to (also parallel with?) the walls. Odds are when Muslims convert a building into a prayer space they'll have to pray at an angle because the odds of it lining up in the same direction as Mecca are slim. This wastes precious square footage, props to this community for avoiding this problem.
Friendliness towards women: This is a women's mosque. The first thing I noticed when I stepped into the mosque was the sheer number of women. Since there was no barrier between the men and the women I was able to see that there were maybe five men and fifteen women. By the time the prayer started there were maybe 15 men and 30 women. When taraweeh started the ratio had almost balanced out but there were more women than men. Masha'allah? Masha'allah indeed.
Friendliness of congregation: Great. Small communities are always friendly. Plus 2-3 guys brought a lot of water to share with the congregation, always a nice gesture.
This mosque afforded me a unique opportunity not present at most mosques: I was able to contrast the men's section and women's section because they were only fifteen feet apart. All the men before the prayer were sitting in silent reflection, occasionally a quiet hello to the newcomers. The women, on the other hand, were yakking and yukking to their hearts' content. I won't crack a joke because clearly I wasn't myself engaged in quiet reflection if I was being amused by this spectacle.
It was the women talking that helped me figure out that most of the people in attendance were of the same ethnic group. I mentally narrowed it down to three groups: Turks, Persians and Afghans. I quickly eliminated Turks from the list because after all, it was a mosque (I kid, I kid! I know a religious Turk.) Whatever the language was, I got confirmation that all the women were speaking it when a few minutes before isha the imam addressed the women, cracked a joke and they all elle oh elled.
I'm a big fan of this dimming-of-the-lights-for-taraweeh business. The only time I can recall the MCA dimming its lights during prayer is for qiyam, and I get the feeling that's so they don't disturb the sleepers performing itikaaf. It must be a hanafi thing...
I concluded that this was was Afghan mosque because clearly, these were strong, confident women in the congregation, to be outnumbering the men, and there was market named Little Kabul next door.
One final note: if you do visit this mosque, bring a prayer rug or else you'll be the one chump who didn't.