Monday, August 15, 2011

Islamic Center of Fremont

If you give your child to the MCA’s youth group, there’s no guarantee that they’ll become a future leader of the Muslim community, although many of them have. MCA’s been struggling with its youth for years; it’s such a tense relationship that on their website the leadership’s displays a banner which says, “We believe youth are the solution, not the problem,” which tells me that a significant portion of the population believes the youth are the problem, a ridiculous notion.

Such problems exist in every Muslim community, but less so at ICF. If you give your child to the masjid, they will turn them into a hafiz. I don’t know the nuances of their hafiz education program but I believe along with memorizing the entire Quran the child also studies the verses to learn more about Islamic law. The last part may be a stretch, as unfortunately too many people place an emphasis on memorizing the words without studying the meaning, but even learning the Quran by heart is an accomplishment and benefit in itself. After memorizing well more than 6,000 verses, studying must come easier than it does for the rest of us, which is why many huffaz go on to become successful professionals after graduating from college.

The mosque is located in a commercial area of Fremont nestled up against one of its nicer, well-manicured neighborhoods (se llama Irvington). It is Fremont, though, so the stench of curry permeates the air (in addition to a high concentration of Pakistani businesses in the area, there’s an apartment complex across the street from whose kitchens waft the aromas of India and Pakistan). The advantage of having the mosque itself on a commercial block is parking isn’t as big a hassle as it is in other places. Everyone who attends this mosque should be able to find parking that won’t disturb people who, oddly enough, are trying to get some sleep at 10 PM on a weeknight. It’s this kind of respect and consideration which unfortunately enough masajid do not demonstrate by purchasing a property in neighborhoods designed to support maybe 2-3 cars per unit.

That said, the mosque isn’t immune from parking problems. Smart-alecky Muslims constantly skirt the law by parking their cars in a strip mall’s parking lot, which has led the mosque to print out sandwich boards warning Muslims to stay out of there. There was also a private security guard out front whose duties probably also include making sure no Muslims park in the lot illegally. Common sense dictates that you not park on private property to attend the masjid but apparently it’s a bit too much to ask for.

The masjid is fabulous on the inside. They’ve gone with a green theme, green being the color of Islam, which makes me glad the masjid isn’t run by folks who think black is the color of Islam. Black carpet and black walls, how dreary would that have looked? They’ve also decorated the inside with calligraphy and a chandelier which hangs from the mihrab. It’s very Pakistani, and it’s a stark contrast to MCA, which either has nothing on its walls or something functional, like an update on their latest fundraising drive.

If this mosque is in the middle of a current fundraising drive, I didn’t find out about it. The only plea for money tonight was to support the famine victims in East Africa, a cause we can all get behind. Unfortunately, after the prayer, I noticed an entire tray of food left over from tonight’s iftar sitting in the back near the shoe shelves. The smart money says that at least some of that food will go to waste, a terrible thing to think about with the famine on everyone’s minds.

The center, while bigger than SBIA, was overflowing. They had set up carpets in the parking lot for men to pray, which wasn’t that bad of an idea because it was pretty nice out. I do wonder, however, if the masjid plans on building a second story to accommodate the growing population. I mean, sure, praying outside tonight was fabulous because Fremont is pretty nice in the summertime, but it’s not a permanent solution.

Men praying outside even though at this point there was space on the inside for them to pray.  Nobody can blame them because it was a pleasant night and the prayer hall was getting a tad stuffy.

Date Visited: August 14, 2011

4039 Irvington Ave.
Fremont, CA 94538

Tag-team taraweeh: No, but I did cut out after 8, so maybe.

Qirat: All huffaz leading taraweeh should strive to memorize to mesmerize. Unfortunately, most of us attending mosques here in the Bay Area speak classical Arabic, and so can’t understand the Quran. We therefore rely on solid recitation from the imams to keep us focused. The young man tonight did just that, I especially loved that he’s learned to recite the Quran with a slight quiver in his voice.

Size of congregation: 100-200

Capacity of center: 300 including the spillover

Parking: Lot and street. The masjid has agreements with local business and a church to share their parking lots.

Mihrab: Yes

Minbar: Yes

Shoe shelves: Fall far short of the demand. I always try to find a spot in the shelves but tonight there was literally no space for my flippy floppies.

Building: A converted commercial building.

Friendliness towards women: They have their own room and own entrance. I really have no idea of what it’s like in there because I’ve only been at the mosque when it’s crowded. Islamic modesty prevented me from taking a peek to see what it looks like.

Friendliness of congregation: The congregation tonight was large, but a lot of the men in attendance looked friendly.


  1. They have a 3 guy taraaweeh. 2 are former Davis students. The quiver you heard was probably Yaseen. His recitation falls perfectly in line with Salih Bukhatir. Hammad reaches much more highs in his recitation, unfortunately the mosque's horrible mic system can not catch the notes.

    Yaseen, might I add, is a bio student at UC Berkeley right now. He has taken his MCATS, and is currently single.

  2. Also, you missed out on Mufti Mudassirs, urdu talk after taraaweeh, which is infamous, for well...being in the most advanced urdu known to man. That makes taraaweeh at ICF.