Before I close this blog, I'd like to postulate some theories about the future of the Muslim community in the Bay Area. Upon reflection, it's apparent that there will be three Muslim power bases in the Bay Area: the Santa Clara Valley, the Tri-Valley in the East Bay and the Peninsula. Noticeably absent is San Francisco. Folks not from the Bay Area, you have to understand, we don't call it the San Francisco Bay Area because of the city, we call it that because of the San Francisco Bay. San Francisco is an economic wasteland; when the biggest industry is tourism, it's hard to take it seriously (may be some South Bay bias shining through, but whatever). The communities in the aforementioned geographic areas are diverse, blessed with wealth and a good representation of moderate Islam. I believe mosques like MCA (Santa Clara), MCC-East Bay (Pleasanton) and the Yaseen Foundation (Belmont) are best poised to be the premier Muslim institutions in the Bay Area.
Nothing against ethnically homogenous small mosques, because it's their right to be as such, but frankly, they're not equipped to deal with a 9/11-like event. When 9/11 happened, those moderate mosques lead by eloquent men and women fared the best in terms of PR; the ethnic mosques whose leaderships barely speak English or don't welcome half the population (women) do nothing to assuage the fears of a population largely ignorant of Islam. I'm sad to say we don't live in a world where Muslims can simply practice their faith; in addition to that, it is incumbent on us to explain our faith to others to fight misconceptions which can lead to hatred.
Okay, enough preaching. Before I finish, I must point out I am not representative of all Bay Area Muslims, but I like to think I'm at least not unrepresentative of Bay Area Muslims.
This is going to be the last time I do this. It's far too mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting and there were times when I was running on spiritual fumes to keep going. What recharged me were the truly amazing mosques who blew me out of the water with their communities.
So what is the future of 30 mosques projects? What I'd really like to see is a girl take a stab at this. My "friendliness to women" category was one of my most well-received sections, but short of me putting on a burka and sneaking into the women's section, it never had a chance to capture the female perspective. I don't imagine many fathers would be happy about their daughters traipsing through East Oakland (as an example) but it's something worth thinking about.
This really has been a blast, though, and I couldn't have done it without the support of my family and friends. All my insiders, please know that I appreciate each and every one of you. To my editorial board, thanks for the suggestions and keeping the posts in check. To my parents, thank you for instilling in me Islamic values which undoubtedly played a huge role in me embarking on this project in the first place.
A Merry Eid to all and to all a good night. Thank you for reading.