Tuesday, August 17, 2010

West Valley Islamic Association

Date visited: August 12, 2010

Location: Saratoga, CA
19848 Prospect Rd
Saratoga, CA 95070

Number of imams: 1

Size of congregation: Small. Maybe 200 people

Capacity of center: It's a city community center designed to hold no more than 350 people. None of us were cramped for space.

Parking: Ample. Bless you, suburbia. It's located in the middle of a residential neighborhood, though, so it's essential for worshippers to enter and exit quietly lest their permit be revoked.

Mihrab: Nope

Minbar: Nope

Shoe shelves: Definitely a no. Folks were leaving their shoes at the door, thus making the classy Saratoga center look like a trashy third-world mosque from the outside.

Building: The Saratoga Prospect Community Center. Nice building, but definitely not made for Muslims and their prayers. The organization laid down carpet on the wooden floor so it didn't hurt to pray, but still.

Friendliness towards women: Very. Since it's a small congregation and it's not a traditional mosque, they had no barriers between the men and the women. So, women could technically check out men's butts when praying, but whatever, I got nothing to hide.

Friendliness of congregation: It's an offshoot of MCA, which means everyone already has their cliques, making it hard to get to know people.

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

This was my second time checking out this taraweeh. The one thing I remember from last time was how anal the mosque leadership was about the noise level; given the center's location in the middle of a residential neighborhood, they were adamant about make sure their congregation did not make the mistake of making even a peep while they were outside the building.

I got another, "what are you doing here?" reaction from an uncle. Apparently to my father's friends I'm not the kind of guy who'd willingly go to a mosque without prodding from my parents, which is true to a certain extent. It may sound strange, but all the hate spewing from the mouths of Republicans has made me a stronger Muslim. I've become determined to practice my faith to the best of my abilities to show everyone that Muslim American isn't an oxymoron.

I liked that this community isn't extreme enough to set up barriers between men and women. That's what I like best about smaller Muslim communities: they seem less determined to enforce strict gender segregation. It is a shame to me that the larger a Muslim community gets the more likely they are to impose stricter guidelines for appropriate gender interaction. I've always wondered why when a Muslim community is small that it's okay for women to get a clear view of our butts sticking in the air but as soon as the community gets a tiny bit larger it becomes necessary to put up barriers to curtail the women's viewing pleasure.

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