30Mosques.com | Day 16: Jamaica Muslim Center, Inc

By Aman and Bassam

Note: Many comments from this posting have disappeared. We encourage those whose comments have disappeared to re-post their thoughts. Sorry for the inconvenience, Aman and I are looking into this issue.

How do you get to Sesame Street? Follow a muppet.

Jamaica Muslim Center? Follow the topis (hats) and hijabs on Hillside Ave.


O, how Jamaica has changed! Back when we lived in Astoria, I remember coming here with my father when I was ten. He forsook my mother on ever coming to this area alone. Jamaica has developed immensely and looks nothing like how I remembered it from twelve years ago — a prettier Jackson Heights if you will.

This is the Jamaica Muslim Center, Inc. A predominantly Bangladeshi community with the usual IndoPak mix.


Most of the residence in the surrounding apartments are Muslim. I would be afraid to live this close because I’d have to come up with some really creative excuses on why I wasn’t at the masjid for fajr.


In the hallway before the musala, all the plates for iftaar were ready. I was taking pictures of them with my google phone when a man standing by me asked if I was from the media. I smiled and said I wasn’t. All the photos Aman and I take are from our cell phones. The day the press starts taking photos with smart phone cams will be a very sad day.


When the time came to break our fast, the imam turned to the congregation and had us repeat after him.

Allah humma

O God,

inni Laka sumtu

…I fasted for you ..

Wa bika amantu

…and I believe in you..

Wa alayka tawakkalto

..and I put my trust in You..

Wa ‘ala rizqika aftartu

..and I break my fast with Your sustenance.

We then proceeded to eat our dates and drink NYC’s default choice for water, Poland Spring.


Right after the Maghrib prayer, everyone stayed in place and performed their sunnah prayers. I don’t think I saw a single person leave the musala until they performed the the supererogatory prayer.

Just as we were done praying, the volunteers quickly began placing blue mats all around the musala.


Today’s menu: Pakora, Rice, Chicken Seekh, Fried Chicken, and, um, Watermelon. Nice bite marks on the pakora, ya?


A man sitting next to me informed us that the majority of the congregants were gathered in the basement. He also told me the women pray upstairs and that is also where they are served.

Everything about the masjid reminded me of Madrasah Islamia in Houston. From the local residence walking together to the mosque to the after school Islamic program, the place was oozing with the scent of Hafiz Iqbal’s joint. What struck me the most was the hifz program the center has. I didn’t know they had such a program until I checked the center’s website. On the site, they have a list of 30 or so hufaadh who have graduated from their Jamia Qurania Academy.

Centuries ago before printing books, many Muslims relied on the hufaadh, individuals who have memorized the Quran, to teach their communties the holy book. Now that Qurans are readily available on paperbacks and iphones, many say there is no need for these rigorous memorization programs. Maybe it’s the “immigrant” in me, but I think the memorization of the Quran is an important tradition we must keep alive. Not just because it is a part of the Prophetic tradition, but there is also an important component of reciting aloud that is being lost. And what better way to recite aloud than from our hearts?

Updated: Maheen informed me the imam of the mosque is not Indonesian. It is the Director of the JMC that is.

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