Thursday, August 2, 2012

Masjid Tasbeeh (Oakland, Alameda County, CA)

My friends ask me (sometimes with mild concern) how I find some of the mosques I do.  I have my sources, but sometimes my sources aren't reliable and I'm genuinely concerned I'll arrive at an address to find a non-existent masjid.  This isn't a big deal if I'm in suburbia, but it is something to ponder when traveling to urbia, as I did last night.

I rolled with a friend last night for (mostly psychic) protection.  Figured it'd be better for two brown men to be looking for a masjid in East Oakland instead of just one.  We parked our cars and my friend warned me I was footing the bill if his was broken into.  Based on the ferocious bars on all the storefront windows, it looked like his fears were somewhat justified.

Thankfully, we found the address, and there were Muslims inside.  They looked at us with suspicion.  Crap, I thought, they think we're G-men!

"Assalamu alaikum"
"Walaikum assalam"

Damn, they still think we're FBI agents!  I had to ask something an informant probably wouldn't ask.

"Do you pray taraweeh here?"

Dynamite.  No informant would possibly make that their first question.

It turns out they don't pray taraweeh here, citing a lack of a hafiz.  They did, amusingly, invite me to lead taraweeh if I wanted to.  Only two people have ever experience a Zuhair-Saadat-led taraweeh, and I wasn't about to put these nice people through that, so I declined.

The community is actually very nice.  They were obviously very surprised to see two Pakistani men randomly show up to pray in this neighborhood, but they welcomed us and told me on my way out that I needed to come for iftar soon.

The lack of taraweeh did mean this was an extremely short visit, but it was nice regardless.  The streets of Oakland are a little rough, to say the least, and it was nice to be in an oasis of comfort and dignity.  I want to say this was the only storefront on the entire block with its lights on, which isn't too surprising given the high crime rate here.  Obviously, I don't know this community well at all, but it seems as if they'd welcome almost anyone who stopped by.

The inside of the masjid. Quite inviting, as you can see.

The outside of the masjid.  Quite uninviting, as you can see.

Date Visited: August 1, 2012

5403 Bancroft Avenue
Oakland, CA 94601

Tag-team taraweeh:  N/A

Qirat: Very good.  The imam clearly went to school to learn how to recite the Quran, or definitely has taken lessons.

Size of congregation: 8-10

Capacity of center: 15-20

Parking: Street

Mihrab: No

Minbar: No

Shoe shelves: There was a shoe organizer hanging from a bookshelf.  Most people use the floor for convenience's sake.

Building: A storefront property in East Oakland

Friendliness towards women: While there was only one woman there last night, I'm sure this masjid is open and friendly towards women.

Friendliness of congregation: Very high, once they got over the surprise of seeing people like us pop in through the door.  If you show up for iftar, they will feed you, I'm sure.

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