Monday, August 1, 2011

Masjid An-Noor (Richmond)

Date Visited: July 31, 2011
Name: Masjid An-noor
Location: 1330 Cutting Blvd.
Richmond, CA 94801

Tag-team taraweeh: No

Qirat: Good

Size of congregation: < 15
Capacity of center: ~100
Parking: Street
Mihrab: Yes
Minbar: Yes
Shoe shelves: Yes
Building: A former Kaiser office.  Converted space located smack-dab in the middle of Richmond's industrial district
Friendliness towards women: Really no way to judge, I would assume high?
Friendliness of congregation: High.  It's safe to say most small congregations are friendly.

Richmond, California has a bad rap.  You ask the average Bay Area resident about Richmond and they'll likely tell you it's rated as one of the most dangerous cities in America, or maybe specifically that it's often in the top 10 in terms of murders per capita.  The thing is, they wouldn't be lying, because there is a lot of crime here.  What most people don't know is that there is another side to Richmond.

There is a Richmond with million-dollar views of the San Francisco and San Pablo Bays.  There is a Richmond home to SunPower (proud supporter of local public radio programming, apparently) and may well be home to the new second campus of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  There is a Richmond where there aren't iron bars on the windows and children can play in the street.

This mosque is in the part of Richmond everyone knows about.

I needed to talk about the "nice" part of Richmond because without telling you about it this post may well have furthered the stereotype that nothing good is happening here.  There are lots of great things happening here, but I don't want to completely ignore the realities of this city.  Yesterday, a mile away from this mosque, a man was shot in the head while driving, causing him to crash and killing his passenger.  These are unfortunately the stories which grab the headlines when it comes to Richmond, but I don't want this blog to add to the negativity.

The mosque, as I pointed out last year, is impossible to find unless you know what you’re looking for.  The only sign indicating that this industrial building is a mosque are two signs in squiggly, one at the corner of Cutting and 13th and the other at the entrance to the mosque, which is guarded by incredibly daunting tall iron-wrought gates.  The entrance itself is a large, former emergency exit, further belying the building’s role in Richmond’s industrial past.  The street is moderately well-lit but deathly quiet; nobody has any business here at night and the only cars you’ll see on the street at night probably belong to the congregation.

When I arrived, there were 3 men sitting in the main prayer hall, enjoying a pitcher of tea.  They immediately offered me some, and peppered me with questions about my well-being, where I was from and where I lived now.  We bonded over the fact that the group was well-acquainted with the neighborhood of Point Richmond, my current home and blessed with one of the aforementioned million-dollar views.

A young man led Isha prayer, which made me glad.  Too often I’ve seen masajid rely on elderly imams whom they’ve flown in from distant places like the UK or South Africa.  The fact is now there is a burgeoning base of local young talent which Bay Area masajid should look to first before considering the cost of flying someone out and putting them up for a month.  My insider at Belmont tells me that’s what’s going on down there, and it’s an option my hometown mosque of MCA will have to weigh pretty soon as Sheikh Jibreel will have to retire at some point.

I left the mosque with my hands smelling like the perfume they’d sprayed on the carpet and satisfied with my start to this holy month, but a question nagged at me as I drove home.  Who funds this mosque?  The congregation was barely larger than handful and yet the hall was big enough to fit 100 people.  I know rent in Richmond is cheap, but it isn’t free, you know?

 The mosque entrance, with the sign written in squiggly (Arabic)


  1. "In squiggly," haha. had no clue there would be a mosque down in that part of richmond... way to find it, Zu.

  2. If u get a chance come to the marin city/Sausalito musallah. We're finishing the Quran on August 20 :)

  3. I'd love to! Could you please send me its location? It's not on the directory I use.

  4. 56 terrace dr Sausalito CA 94965
    The gps usually sends people the wrong way so to add a bit more detail, the musallah is in an apt. Complex, in the garage of building no. 56 it's opposite the baseball field.

  5. Ha you showoff imam!

    Classic Marin, everything starts in the garage