Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Al-Tawhid Mosque (San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA)

Two years ago, when I first started assembling a list of mosques to visit, a friend of mine advised me to avoid this mosque.  If I visited it, he claimed, I'd be placed on a government list.  Well, I felt like I HAD to take a look, and it's a shame that it's taken so long.

I was flabbergasted by what I saw tonight.  Swarthy Semitic men wearing turbans and skullcaps were sitting on the floor, chatting in some foreign language or reading from books written in some unknown script.  I couldn't believe that this was going on in the middle of San Francisco, one of the most homogeneous in the world.  Welcome to Obama's America.

Clearly, I'm being sarcastic.  I saw nothing tonight to indicate the government should be using borrowed Chinese money to conduct surveillance here.  I give it the 30 Mosques seal of approval.

What I did notice about this masjid were the smells.  Scientists say the olfactory memories are some of the strongest humans develop.  Well, my nose helped me develop some great memories tonight.

The first thing which hit me as soon as I entered the masjid around Isha was the dinner the congregation had had earlier in the evening.  It smelled delicious, and it told me that this is a place where one can expect a proper iftar even on a weeknight.  The smaller mosques, given their limited resources, provide dates, but a full-blown dinner?  I can say with certainty that no masjid in the Bay Area will require you to bring your own date (haha).  Sorry if that's terribly cliche, but I'm a fan of DATEd material.

As I entered the prayer hall, I was hit with a medley of smells, which could be summed up in one word: man.  Tonight, the ventilation was turned off so we prayed taraweeh like the sahaba did: without the worldly comforts of Axe deodorant or Acqua Di Gio cologne (two of the more common smells at Desi mosques).  Felt like Arabia, I can tell you that.

This mosque has a rotation of imams to lead taraweeh, and they trade off after every four rakats.  Taraweeh here is the Arab-20, but I'm unsure about how many total imams lead taraweeh as I left after eight.  The third imam was just starting as I was leaving the building.  It's good to see multiple imams leading taraweeh, for many reasons, but most importantly so the imam has some backup in case he forgets the surahs he's supposed to be reciting.

Let the record show that this is a Yemeni mosque.  Trash Desis all you want, but at least we don't label our mosques as being "Desi mosques."  Mostly because we know that'd give the Arabs one more reason to hate us.

Date Visited: July 24, 2012

1227 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

Tag-team taraweeh: Yes

Qirat: The starter was the best of the night.  The reliever struggled a tad and was slower.

Size of congregation: 50-75 people

Capacity of center: 100 men, unknown female capacity

Parking: All street.  Welcome to San Francisco.

Mihrab: Yes

Minbar: Yes

Shoe shelves: Ample, but I'm sure they get crammed during jummah

Building: Definitely looks smaller from the outside.  This facility is actually quite large, and I didn't have time to explore it tonight.  It is a true community center, and not just a prayer hall.

Friendliness towards women: Women are welcome here, but I can't tell you how welcome.  I didn't see any tonight, but I did hear children playing behind the wall somewhere.

Friendliness of congregation: Good people.  During the breaks they were tossing water into the crowd so we wouldn't get dehydrated.  Imagine feeling sweaty in San Francisco at night.  Yes, that's how warm it was tonight.

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