Thursday, September 2, 2010

Islamic Center of West Contra Costa County

Date visited: September 2, 2010

Location: Richmond, CA
1110 36th St.
Richmond, 94804

Tag-team Taraweeh: No

Size of congregation: 30-40

Capacity of center: 200-250

Parking: Small parking lot, mostly street

Mihrab: No

Minbar: Yes

Shoe shelves: Plenty

Building: Relatively new mosque; it was built when I was young. It's in a pretty sketchy neighborhood; it's surrounded by an iron fence with thick padlocks at every gate.

Friendliness towards women: There were plenty of women there, and they were treated equally when it came to iftar time.

Friendliness of congregation: Very. Lots of food was passed around.

I don't know much about this place. I do remember coming here more than a few times as a child, but it had been more than ten years since I visited this place today. That would explain why everything seemed smaller than I remember it.

Don't get me wrong, it's a very nicely-sized center. And yes, it actually is a center, they have a kitchen and a few open spaces which double as classrooms. They walls are covered in decorations and the prayer space has a beautiful new carpet. It's clear that the congregation takes a lot of pride in its center.

I struck up a conversation with the dude next to me because he saw my Berkeley sweatshirt (no confusion about how someone knew I went to Berkeley tonight). I appreciate these conversations because it opens my eyes to how hard the folks up here really have it. It makes me thankful for all the things I do have, mostly my youth. I can get by on a low salary because I don't have any roots or anyone to support. I'm meeting guys who are struggling to make ends meet because they've been relegated to part-time jobs while supporting entire families. There's plenty of cases like that in the South Bay too, but I guess it took me relocating to a new neighborhood to become familiar with them.

This mosque is a Tablighi mosque. That said, I've realized, especially in Ramadan, the background of a mosque shouldn't impact my decision to stop by for prayer. All I do these days at these mosque is eat and pray...and love the fact that I still have the opp to check out a different mosque every night.

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