30Mosques.com | Day 13: Masjid Dawood, another take

This entry was written by Fatima Ashraf. A community activist who wants to “make it plain,” as brother Malcolm taught us.

Masjid Dawood, better known as the Yemeni Mosque on State St, is a sad story in my opinion. But let me start with the good, since it is Ramadan. The sister’s section is on the second floor. The carpet in this masjid always reminded me of the Dome of the Rock; it’s a deep, deep red and pretty clean. The taraweah is beautiful; the Sheikh’s recitation, with eyes closed, can transport you to the Holy Land. It’s 8 rakats with the traditional break in the middle. The sounds of the recitation float out of the windows and over the trees throughout historic Brooklyn Heights.

Now, the sadness. Well, let’s call it awareness. Masjid Dawood is one of the FIRST mosques in NYC and therefore one of the first in the entire country. It was established by the Blackamerican Muslim community. It was a stronghold for Muslims. It was more than just a house of worship, it was a place where families could come to learn about Islam together, to study the deen, to raise their kids around one another, and to plan for the future of Islam in America. Today, this masjid is 100% immigrant; the founding fathers of this precious place are no where to be found. The population is homogeneous. Arabs. Yemenis (at least in the sister’s section). I am an immigrant Muslim, yet I still felt out of place. Furthermore, it’s become a transient place; there is no more socializing, no more community building. People come, pray, go.

There are many reasons for this. The gentrification of this neighborhood in the 60s and 70s played a part. The immigrant invasion played a part. But the past it the past; what we must think about is the future. Many of the Brooklyn masaajid, established by the African American community, no longer serve the community. Where is the Blackamerican Muslim community going? This is a very important question to get answered, but let’s first start by asking it.

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