Monday, August 13, 2012

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

As I was parking my car last night, a cruiser sped down 7th Street in the opposite direction, siren screaming and lights ablaze.  It stopped a block away from the masjid and police officers got out to take care of something (or someone).  If I were an Oakland native, I would have gotten out my phone to record the incident, because sometimes the Oakland Police Department is a little overzealous when protecting and serving the people and needs YouTube to keep it honest.

Welcome to West Oakland.  The masjid is a shot-putter's throw away from the Port of Oakland.  It ain't the nicest area.  However, the congregation has developed a foolproof method of keeping their masjid safe:

Oh, you've double-parked on city streets when going to pray?  That's cute.  Homies here quadruple-park.

Some of the kids I saw are from West Oakland, born and raised.  Last night, they were on the playground where they spend most of their days.  They were chillin' out maxin' relaxin' all cool, shootin' some b-ball outside of the school (which the mosque is on Sundays).

To keep these kids safe from guys up to no good, the congregation uses their vehicles to serve as a protective barrier between the outside and the cul-de-sac on which this mosque is located.  They also do this because many do not have relatives in Bel Air to whom they could send their boys if they get into one little fight.

The masjid is predominantly Arab.  I do believe I was the only Desi in the congregation last night.  This also was clearly not a Hanafi mosque, given the loud chorus of "ameen" which followed the recitation of Surah Fatiha.  Such a practice would be frowned upon in a Desi masjid, who believe congregants should be seen and not heard.

I'm always surprised by the size of the congregation here.  Seriously, you don't think "Arab" when you think "Oakland."  Judging by the quality and luxuriousness of some cars I saw parked on the street, I'm willing to bet a lot of the congregation doesn't live in Oakland, let alone West Oakland.  Drawn by cheap property values, they have come to this neighborhood to leave their mark.

I do believe it's their positive mark on the neighborhood that the police lets them get away with blockading an entire city block with their cars.  If this masjid wasn't respected in this community, you can bet Oakland meter maids would have a field day every night of Ramadan.  No, they take care of Oakland, so Oakland takes care of them.

Date Visited: August 12, 2012

1005 7th Street
Oakland, CA

Tag-team taraweeh: No

Qirat: Good, one of the better ones I've heard.  A little too high-pitched to be crowned the king of the Bay Area, though.

Size of congregation: 50-60

Capacity of center: 75-100

Parking: All street.  For God's sake, do not park in the cul-de-sac or else you'll be blocked in worse than at a Gujarti mosque in Mill Valley.

Mihrab: Yes

Minbar: Yeah.  They've built a nice little lectern.

Shoe shelves: Yes, not enough.  Someone put his shoes on top of my flippy-floppies, which is gross, because nobody knows what the heck you've walked on when you've walked on the sidewalks of Oakland.

Building: Two-story affair located on one of the major avenue in Oakland.  Minutes from the West Oakland BART station.

Friendliness towards women: Women have their own space to pray.

Friendliness of congregation: If you're Arab, you'll feel more welcome than I did last night.  That said, it's open to everyone.

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