Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yaseen Foundation

Date visited: August 14, 2010

Location: Belmont, CA
621 Masonic Way
Belmont, CA 94002

Number of imams: 2

Qirat: I liked Imam Abdurrahman's recitation.  He's more meticulous than his brothers IT and II.  Too bad he did only four rakats because the other guy's not that great.  A Yaseen Foundation insider tells me that Imam A has been lazy this year or else he'd be doing more rakats :D

Size of congregation: 300-400

Capacity of center: Too small. I don't know if they can afford it, but they need to find a bigger building pronto.

Parking: Not enough. I showed up a half-hour before prayers so I was parked right next to the main entrance, but I imagine most of the congregation had to find street parking in a mostly residential neighborhood, no easy task.

Mihrab: Yep

Minbar: Yep

Shoe shelves: Yep

Building: A tiny building. Really small for the community; the president said that they're expecting 2,000 people for their Eid prayers.

Friendliness towards women: They used the same entrance as the men, but were forced into a room with a door, thus ensuring we would neither hear them nor see them :D

Friendliness of congregation: Very. I mean, it was incredible how many strangers were coming up to me to say hi.

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

The people up here are so friendly it's ridiculous. I started my evening with an iftar at the mosque, which up to this point I'd been avoiding because I lived so close to the mosques I'd been visiting I could eat at home. However, when I started this project, I realized if a mosque is more than 20 miles away, I should definitely eat at or near the mosque. Here's why: these days, sunset's hovering around 8 PM. They start Isha at 9:30. They could start Isha later to give people more time to eat, but I think people would much rather get home earlier to get enough sleep for the next day than get a few more minutes to eat.

Anyways, during the iftar, random people were saying hello to me, asking how I was doing. I had come with a friend because I didn't want to be the loner eating by himself, but I quickly realized even if I had come by myself I would have had company during my meal, no problem. It's something that's disappeared from MCA as the community has gotten larger, which is to be expected. Small-town America is purported to be a much nicer place to live than Big-city America for the exact same reason.

Since my friend and I were strangers, we got to the masjid super-early because we had nowhere else to go. My ex-roommate, who frequents this mosque, was nowhere to be found so we chilled in the parking lot till 9:30. One thing that struck me about this community was the balance of Arabs and Desis; it took me back to MCA. Unfortunately, most mosques in the Bay Area are built along ethnic lines so it was refreshing to see this diverse community.

I liked the mosque building, it reminded me a lot of Masjid An-Noor, MCA's first mosque. However, just like Masjid An-Noor, I know it would fail to meet the capacity requirements for this growing community. I'm not sure what this foundation has planned, but I hope for their sake they find a bigger building because trust me, it's not fun to pray in a sardine can. Way back before MCA bought its center Masjid An-Noor was so crowded people used to have to pray on each other backs due to a lack of space.

I liked the imam, and not just because he's the third Anwar brother. Seems like a nice, friendly guy, always smiling and shaking hands. I think in this day and age it's become even more important to have a friendly, charismatic person leading your mosque. He did break my heart, though, because after leading four rakats he tagged himself out. I personally like his recitation the best out of all the Anwar brothers so I was disappointed to have to listen to a mediocre recitation for the rest of Taraweeh.

I did like the fact that they do witr the Maliki way here. I can tell it always throws people off because it's such an uncommon way to do it in the Bay.

I was tickled by the fact that the women's section has a solid door, thus ensuring they will be neither seen nor heard. It is literally impossible for any man to even peek inside that section. They, however, have a clear view of us thanks to one-way mirrors.

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