Friday, August 12, 2011

Al-Madinah Academy (San Bruno)

Back in high school, my computer science teacher had a picture of a Fijian beach as his desktop background. Occasionally, The Vot would stop teaching, stare at the picture, and sigh. Life moves 10x slower there, he used to say, I wish I could move there. I’m happy to report that the Fijians in San Bruno have brought the niceties from the island stateside.

Tonight was the last night I was being tailed by the Bay Area News Group. I want to thank them for their time and patience with the admittedly dicey situations we experienced. I could have made the 3 days easier by picking large mosques which are set to host open houses this month, and thus used to welcoming non-Muslims. My brother did ask me why I picked such random little mosques.

I suppose my goal was to show the reporter and photographer the true diversity of the Muslim community. It did backfire, just a tad, and I was even considering calling an audible tonight and asking the photographer to meet me at a “safe” mosque. I ended up sticking to the schedule, but this time I bought an insurance policy.

I asked my San Bruno insiders, one of whom is female, to attend the mosque tonight. I was determined to do my part to ensure that the photographer see that there were friendly Muslim women in the Bay Area who wouldn’t mind having their picture taken or even talking to her. I’m thrilled to report that my plan worked perfectly because I could tell the photographer enjoyed her time with the community. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to the Muslim community of San Bruno for being so welcome to an outsider.

The San Bruno community prays at the rec center in San Bruno Park because they currently don’t have a use permit for their current mosque, mostly due to the parking issues it creates. It’s smack-dab in the middle of an old part of San Bruno and parking, already tight, became such a problem the city’s forced the community to come up with a plan to expand the mosque in a sustainable manner while allowing for growth. After all, there’s no point in building a mosque if it’ll be too small in a few years.

Fijian hospitality can’t be beat. Ramadan brings out the best in people, and the love and care they showed all of us as they were serving us food was touching. Other masajid should take notes, they could learn a little something from the Fijian community about how to throw an iftar party.

The men following isha prayer.  Throw a carpet down, grab a friend or two and you can convert any space into a place of worship.  The man in the blue fleece sweater is a graduate of JP Morgan's I-Banking Academy (mashaAllah, so accomplished!)

Date Visited: August 11, 2011

Location:
251 City Park Way
San Bruno, CA 94066

Tag-team taraweeh: No

Qirat: Slow, meticulous, but pure. As I was leaving the rec center after 8 rakats, I heard the speakers causing an echo in the hallway. It was hauntingly beautiful.

Size of congregation: 30

Capacity of center: According to the posted signs, the rooms had a combined maximum capacity of 300

Parking: Street, off-street

Mihrab: No

Minbar: No

Shoe shelves: Nope

Building: A small room on the bottom floor of Veteran’s Memorial Recreation Center, located in San Bruno City Park.

Friendliness towards women: Women are actively involved in this community. Also, more importantly, they are not afraid to talk to men and spoke to me in a very courteous and welcoming manner.

Friendliness of congregation: In terms of hospitality, this congregation is off the chart, the chart being based on the other masajid I’ve visited this month. For them to take a cold meeting room in a rec center and turn it into a warm and welcoming place of worship is nothing short of amazing. The MCA in its infancy used to hold large events at the Campbell Community Center, but my level of comfort there paled in comparison to what I felt tonight.

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