Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Islamic Center of Fremont (Fremont, Alameda County, CA)

Point Richmond, a neighborhood of Richmond, is where I live and work (play? No).  It's one of the oldest neighborhoods of Richmond and developed a symbiotic relationship with the refinery founded by Standard Oil in 1902.  Folks who worked at the refinery lived in Point Richmond and even today a great number of Chevron employees will crowd Point Richmond's restaurants during lunch.

Chevron does its best to be a good neighbor by implementing a variety of safety measures designed to protect residents of Richmond.  One of those is their warning siren, which is tested on the first Wednesday of every month at 11:00 AM.  It started going off at around 6:15 PM last night.  The first thing I did was check the clock.  No, it's not 11 AM.  I check the date.  No, it's not Wednesday.  Something was very wrong.

I immediately checked Twitter and found out that there was a fire at the refinery.  I didn't even wait for details; I packed my things and in 5 minutes and 10 seconds I was out of there.  I spent the extra 10 seconds taking the picture below.  Yes, the refinery is less than a 10-minute walk from my apartment.

Hope no one uses TJ triangulation technology to figure out exactly where in Point Richmond I live.

I didn't know what was burning but I wasn't going to wait around to find out.  Shelter-in-place warning be damned, I was not going to spend the night a mile away from what could be an oil fire.

Two things.  First, Point Richmond was very lucky in that the wind was blowing east, thus sparing the neighborhood from the brunt of the fire, though I noticed today ash was sprinkled on all the cars left here overnight.  Second, I'm blessed to have a car and the means to get out of Richmond at will.  My thoughts are with those Richmond residents who had to breath ash all night.

I scrambled south to spend the night with my aunt.  We had iftar, but my nerves were still a little shot, so I decided to pray taraweeh to relax.

I tell you what, if you're trying to get your mind off a refinery fire and the poison it's potentially seeping into your apartment, you can't go wrong with praying taraweeh at ICF.  Forget all the negatives about ICF which people may or may not tell you.  The recitation there is superb, and it was just the thing I needed to take my mind off the refinery.  ICF hafiz school, keep doing what you do.  We need more gifted imams to help congregations take their minds off of worldly problems or help them put those worldly problems into perspective.

ICF is in a unique location because it is at the epicenter of the Desi community in the Bay Area.  Walk through this part of Fremont and a good chunk of the people you'll see will be of South Asian descent.  There's plenty of diversity, sure, but ICF is one of the few masjids located such that you can pray, have dinner and grab groceries without moving your car.  There are Muslim-owned businesses a-plenty in this neighborhood of Fremont.  If you're missing the motherland, you can't go wrong with spending an evening in Irvington.

Date Visited:

4039 Irvington Avenue
Fremont, CA 94538

Tag-team taraweeh: Yes

Qirat: Very good.  They train huffaz well here.

Size of congregation: 100-200

Capacity of center: 200 or more, they had uncles praying outside in the parking lot.

Parking: The masjid has a lot and they provide congregants with a handy map of where they can and can't park in the neighborhood.  They have partnerships with Muslims businesses and local churches to use their lots at certain times.

Mihrab: Yes

Minbar: Yes

Shoe shelves: Yes

Building: One-story affair which seems a little cramped given the size of the community.  Praying outside only works in the summertime, you know?  Good thing they have about 10 years before Ramadan moves back into the rainy season.

Friendliness towards women: Women have their own space to pray, but it's a separate room entirely.  I have no idea of how large it is, but judging from the noise emanating from it it seemed a little cramped.

Friendliness of congregation: Lots of nice people go here.  This masjid is open to all.

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