Date visited: September 7, 2010
Location: Oaklandish, CA
4606 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Oakland, CA, 94609
Tag-team Taraweeh: As far as I know, nope.
Qirat: There weren't no taraweeh tonight.
Size of congregation: Small. I'll explain later.
Capacity of center: 150, if even that.
Parking: Street. Be warned, this is the kind of neighborhood where you might come out and see someone sitting on the hood of your car. It HAS happened with me once.
Shoe shelves: Yes
Building: Could be described as a large studio apartment, haha.
Friendliness towards women: Nary a one. However, since this is a Zaid Shakir joint, if they were here, they'd be sitting next to the men during iftar.
Friendliness of congregation: Astronomical. The funny part is the guys I met first weren't even from Oakland. One was from LA, the other from Sacramento, but since they'd been spending the past few nights at the mosque they acted like hosts.
Whoever walks through the doors of this mosque owns it. Or, at least, that's how it felt tonight. There were so few people there I was actually invited to lead Maghrib. Lucky for them, I didn't want to.
Zaid Shakir runs a pretty tight ship here, so tight he doesn't even need to be here to manage things. I was stunned to see how everything was running so smoothly when there didn't even seem to be someone in charge. A generous woman dropped off food for iftar, which was received by the two out-of-towners doing itikaaf. The two out-of-towners set up dinner because they already knew where everything was. It's stunning to see such hospitality when nobody could really call themselves the hosts.
This community is pretty awesome, though. I mean, the woman dropped off food and apparently does it regularly during Ramadan without even being asked. She's been dropping off so much food that the fridge is full of leftovers from a couple days ago.
The only directive I really saw was one asking that the kitchen be kept clean. Stunningly, it was. I say stunning because you can find the same signs hanging in some masajid in the Bay and lord knows those aren't clean.
Iftar ended up being me and four other guys. There was enough food to feed 30 people. Such is the generosity of the people who are supporting this mosque.
That said, it's not like this is a lonely masjid tucked away in a dusty corner of Oakland. Apparently they had a fundraising dinner the night before which was so large they had to hold it at a local community center. The impressive thing is, they're not even raising money to remodel the center, which is quite frankly the number one priority for most mosques. They were raising money primarily to continue providing services to their community. This is a very active mosque in that lectures are held here on a weekly basis, if not more frequent.
That's what I liked best about tonight. This is a relatively famous mosque, and on a night when other mosques would be packed with people eating iftar, I got to enjoy a serene dinner with four other guys. It was one of the most unique experiences I've had this Ramadan and one that will probably be hard to replicate in the future.
As a parting gift, one of my dinner companions gave me the gift of non-alcoholic beer. Because that had Ramadan written all over it.