Friday, August 3, 2012

Al-Medina Education Center (Newark, Alameda County, CA)

Huffaz grow on trees in Fremont.  The masjid here in Newark has plucked 3-4 of them from their native habitat in Fremont to lead taraweeh.  It's a win-win: the huffaz naturally want to lead taraweeh because it allows them to enjoy the fruits of their labor and the community's giving young huffaz a chance to blossom.  It's also of course the community's hope that the huffaz plant themselves in the area and grow roots.

The produce...er, huffaz (got lost in my own agriculture metaphors) have a swagger that can only come after memorizing 6,200 verses of a book written in a non-native language.  The section of the front row in front of the mihrab is reserved for them; their groupies block off the area so nobody else can pray in this prime real estate.  The huffaz are practically children, but it's clear they're command a lot of respect in this community.  You of course have to respect them for taking time away from their families to come out to this masjid to lead taraweeh.

At first glance, this appears to be a Desi masjid, given the ethnicity of the huffaz and and the crowd in the room.  However, this masjid is actively working to shatter the stereotype of being an ethnic masjid, a stereotype born of the fact that most mosques in this part of the East Bay were founded on ethnic lines.  This mosque is actively trying to merge ethnic groups and welcome new Muslims into the fold, an important mission given the fact that few mosques have the capacity to properly educate new Muslims about Islam.

This has drawn the ire of some of the older uncles in the community, especially since the masjid leadership tries to describe themselves as progressive.  When the old aunties and uncies of any Muslim community hear the word progressive in conjunction with Islam, visions of gay Muslims and female imams dance in their heads.  Gay Muslims and female imams, of course, will have a hard time being accepted by mainstream Muslims, if they ever are (just a plain fact, no personal opinion here).  However, by describing themselves as progressive, the leadership here only means to indicate that they are open to all Muslims and are willing to give females a say in masjid operations, something lacking in many ethnic mosques.


Date Visited: August 2, 2012

Location:
5445 Central Avenue
Newark, CA 94560

Tag-team taraweeh: In full swing tonight.  The starter lead the first 8 rakat, and then a reliever took over because the starter's ayat count was getting too high.  The reliever struggled a bit, but with help from the bullpen he was able to pull through.  The closer was the best.

Qirat: As mentioned earlier, the closer's recitation was the best.  All of them had very good recitation, however.

Size of congregation: 50-ish, dropped down to 25 after 8 rakats

Capacity of center: 100-200 if you crammed folks in there

Parking: Lot and street

Mihrab: Yes

Minbar: Yes

Shoe shelves: Some

Building: Located towards the back of a light industrial/commercial park.  It looked like they've taken over two units in the building.  Space wasn't too much of an issue tonight, but they are doing Eid prayers somewhere else, which means their community is larger than their mosque.

Friendliness towards women: Female leadership is welcome and encouraged.  Women have an equitable prayer space.

Friendliness of congregation: Quite high.  Unlike a lot of ethnic mosques in the East Bay I felt at home here (kind of hard to feel at home when someone starts speaking in Dari, stops, looks at you resentfully, and starts speaking in English for your benefit).

1 comment:

  1. Love, love this mosque. Was just there on Sunday. One of my favorites in the Bay Area, masha'Allah.

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