Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Masjid Al-Iman (Oakland, Alameda County, CA)

I arrived at this masjid around 9:30, or around when the time for Isha begins.  Ain't nobody was there except a handful of friendly sufis, who offered me tea and engaged me in conversation.  People began trickling in around 9:45, people bearing lots of food items.  Last night was the night of the 27th of Ramadan, the night when Muslims (except for Shia Bhai) believe is most likely the night the first verses of the Quran were revealed.  The mood was celebratory and everyone seemed to be in a good mood.

This mosque isn't open regularly; the imam lives in El Sobrante and it's too difficult for him to come down here.  However, they have been praying taraweeh here every night, and striving to complete the Quran in recitation.  The imam was going to complete the Quran last night, which is another reason why everyone was in such a jovial mood.

Thanks to my earliness, I was able to observe the community in their natural habitat.  Mosques don't get much more Sufi than this, I tell you what (weren't no coffin in the corner, though).  The gender interaction was so high a conservative could afford to send his son to college with only his astaghfirullah jar (in which he deposits a quarter every time he says astaghfirullah).  Women are an active part of this community, and they weren't afraid to steer the direction of the dhikr from the back of the room.  An older woman was also not afraid of lighting incense and going from person-to-person blowing the smoke all over them.  Good thing I don't live with my parents or else I'd have a hard time explaining why I smell like hookah coming back from "the masjid."

Folks who know me know I'm not a dhikr-stickler.  I just wasn't raised doing it, so some of it just seems bizarre to me.  For example, last night, I, for the first time ever, engaged in salat-ut-tasbeeh, where the congregation does salat but also tasbeeh during the salat.  There was also singing dhikr, where the congregation sang songs praising Allah and the Prophet.  Of all the nights for me to forget my geetar at home...

This is a special masjid, and it was a special night.  I want to thank the community for letting me sharing it with them, especially the Old Boyz who decided that witr and dhikr would be Better with the Lights Off.

The congregation gearing up to pray rakats 9-20 of taraweeh.  The women were to the right of this picture.  I didn't take their picture because only a scumbag would take a picture of non-mahram hijabis.

Date Visited: August 14, 2012

5625 Shattuck Avenue
Oakland, CA 94608

Tag-team taraweeh: No, the imam led all 20, and most of the dhikr

Qirat: Good

Size of congregation: 20-30

Capacity of center: 50

Parking: Street. The lot in the back was locked.

Mihrab: Yes

Minbar: Yes, two!

Shoe shelves: Yes

Building: A small storefront facility on Shattuck not far from the Berkeley border.  If you're not looking for it, you'd never notice it.

Friendliness towards women: Extremely friendly towards women.  We need more mosques like this one.

Friendliness of congregation: Sufis are the friendliest and most genial people I've ever met.

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