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A new home for ancient ways

Original post made on Aug 29, 2014

Standing inside the almost-complete prayer hall of Palo Alto's first freestanding mosque on San Antonio Road, Durriya Tyabji sees a space reminiscent of a mosque built in Cairo, Egypt, in 1125 A.D.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 29, 2014, 12:00 AM

Comments (45)

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Posted by how
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 9:34 am

How did this building get past the architectural review board? The exterior view looks so disproportionate. A garish mix of materials.


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Posted by how
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 9:38 am

I would add that it makes the JCC look like an architectural wonder in comparison. And that's really saying something.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by ellie
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 29, 2014 at 10:47 am

I am pleased that given our very many religious buildings in Palo Alto, that this mosque has been added. It makes our community more complete. Congratulations to everyone who was involved with the project. I now many of us look forward to attending an open house there and I hope other events and celebrations in the future. Please let us know when we can visit. I will be interested to learn more about the traditions that are part of the design of the building. Thank you so much for enriching our town.



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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 29, 2014 at 10:47 am

Does anyone know if people outside the Muslim faith will be allowed to see the interior before it is dedicated?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Fantastic!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 10:52 am

Not sure what "how" might want a mosque to look... but I think this is beautiful and amazing! The intricate detail and all the handcrafted work are exactly the kind of quality I want to see in Palo Alto. I am amazed by the commitment of those involved and offer a heartfelt "THANK YOU!!" for building such an interesting and purposeful building. A welcome and a wonderful addition to the variety and character of our city and I'm glad they decided to build it here!


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Posted by Hermia
a resident of Triple El
on Aug 29, 2014 at 10:59 am

(@how, **Nothing** could make the JCC look good.)

The exterior is blocky but inoffensive.
Some of the interior detailing is lovely.
But mostly I can't help but be delighted when individuals work to create community spaces.
That's just such a great humanitarian deed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by moo
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 11:31 am

If I had a dollar for every time the word "unique" appeared in this article. . .
I do believe I'd have four dollars.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2014 at 11:43 am

What an interesting article! Last year I traveled to Andalucía in Spain and saw a great deal of Moorish architecture. This building reminded me of mosques I saw there. I think it's beautiful and a great addition to our city.


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Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 11:55 am

Welcome, Palo Alto's Indian Muslims.

For you architecture buffs, check out Jon Curiel's "Al- America..." book.

Web Link


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Posted by Fat Chance
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 12:06 pm

When we were in Dubai two years ago, for a Global Foundries conference, we were told we would have the opportunity to see one of the largest and most beautiful mosques in the world.

Apparently, they did not account for women visitors. Businesswomen and tourist women alike were told they MUST wear ALL BLACK ( because Muslims believe women are inherently evil, we were told by the Dubai guides). The black attire must also include long sleeves, turtlenecks, floor length skirts, and head scarves. This in heat of 120 degrees Fahrenheit!

Men, on the other hand, could wear anything except shorts and tank tops, but it had to be white in color, because men are inherently good according to Islam.

Having not been warned before the trip, none of the businesswomen at this conference brought black attire with long sleeves, skirts, and turtlenecks, though all had brought scarves to cover their hair out of respect.

To make matters worse, none of the women on this trip were allowed to watch the Formula One Race being held that week, as the mosque attire was required for that, too!

As a direct result, most, if. to all, of the businesswomen at the Global Foundries conference swore never to return to Dubai for any reason whatsoever.

BTW, women were not allowed to exercise in the hotel gym without black "mosque attire". Even though men were allowed to wear shorts and tank tops!

So much for a Muslim country that prides itself on being "enlightened".


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 12:33 pm

I too wonder about the part of the article that says there is a women's area and a man's area for prayer and that the idea is to make the women's area as nice as the men's area. This should not even be an issue. The fact that they have separate prayer areas to begin with demeans the whole building. Apart from restrooms, why in this country do we allow this type of segregation? And then to add insult to injury, mention that the women's area should be as nice as the men's area is particularly demeaning.

How would it sound if you were to suggest that the men have gold plated urinals in their restroom and it was decided that the women's restroom should have similar high quality facilities in a building. Because that is what the article sounds like to me.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Much more open space in front of the building automatically makes it much more attractive and inviting than the JCC's massive concrete walls.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by A neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2014 at 12:58 pm


I hope the mosque community will be welcoming those who are not Muslims.

I wonder what the dress code for female visitors will be. I hope they will have some sort of convenient conforming cover up piece to lend to women who show up to visit but might not be dressed to the Islamic code.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Gethin is a registered user.

Palo Altans have an endless capacity to complain about everything and anything. I think both the JCC and the mosque are very good looking buildings and like others in this discussion I welcome the addition of a mosque to the community.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 29, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Finally! I kept telling my wife that the one thing this city was really lacking were blocky, post-modernistic religious establishments. Now we've got one! The only disappointment is the curvature in the dome of the minaret. I think some additional brain-power could have gone into its design to make it slightly more linear. A geodesic dome shape would have been more to my tastes.

In all seriousness my most vivid memories of my time in Northern India was the pervading sense of calm that I felt upon hearing the adhan, call to prayer, especially in the evenings. I would welcome hearing this daily ritual in Palo Alto, and hope it would serve as a reminder to people that there are some things which matter more than earthly pursuits (software development, organic hummus, and money). Alas, sound ordinances would probably prevent this, although church bells on Sunday's are still permitted.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 29, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Don't mean to be antipathetic, but are we just closing our eyes and hoping that Islam is compatible with Western ways of life and human rights.

[Portion of post removed due to disrespectful comment.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bert
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 3:54 pm

What would the reaction of this community be if a religious structure were erected that reserved one place for caucasians and a separate place for non-caucasians. There would be a tsunami of outrage, and properly so. In the case of this mosque we have a religious structure that is eliciting considerable approbation, at least in these posts, and yet it reserves one space for women and another for men, where persons of neither gender are not supposed to go into the space reserved for persons of the other gender. Yet Palo Alto, always ready to hoist the flag of political correctness, has given its blessing (through whatever public committee had to approve of this structure) to a building that embodies inequality in its very structure. Just as I am not impressed with the old "separate but equal" defense of segregated learning, I'm not at all impressed that efforts were expended to make the space for women as nice as the space for men. I am opposed to Orthodox Judaism when it segregates men and women, e.g., on public transport, and I am opposed to Islam and the buildings that are erected to promote it when, based on doctrine or tradition, it creates buildings that segregate the sexes in worship. Both forms of segregation are unjustifiable and unacceptable in the 21st century. This is extremely disturbing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2014 at 4:00 pm

You, forget, Bert, these are private organizations. They can discriminate all they want. You do not have to agree with them. You do not have to worship at their mosque/synagogue.
Do you have any problem with the discrimination practiced by the Christ- based religions?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bert
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 4:12 pm

@Rupert: thank you. But do you think that the fact that such an organization is private would placate the citizens of Palo Alto if its building was as described? I seriously doubt it. Is discrimination against women ok as long as it takes place in a private rather than a public organization? i seem to recollect hearing of lawsuits brought against certain private companies for practices that discriminated against women and blacks and the disabled.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Bert
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 4:15 pm

@Rupert: P.S. Yes, I have just as little patience with unjust discrimination practiced by any "Christ-based religions" as I do with the two religions I mentioned in the post to which you responded.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Well, Bert, ,I am not sure the citizens of Palo Alto should have a say in this matter. The fact that a mosque was being built was known for years. The worship practices of Muslims are also well known. Why wait until now, Bert, to complain.
Anyway, the city of Palo Alto has a Mormon facility, a number of catholic churces and many Protestant churches-- they all practice and/or encourage forms of discrimination. Why no outcry over them?
Why do actually cnsider the practices of Muslims/orthodox Judaism as being discriminatory? There is real discrimination around.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 29, 2014 at 4:29 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment.]


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Are the tours or times when non-Muslims can visit this Mosque?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 29, 2014 at 5:05 pm

> Stop the Trolls, a resident of Mountain View

> @CrescentParkAnon: Your ignorance and bigotry have been noted.

That's sad, I don't think I am ignorant or bigoted, but I am for free and objective exploration of any information - as I said, prove me wrong, not just in one or two outlying cases, but show me where I am in error ... and please try doing it without calling me names or calling me a troll, OK. I'll let you say whatever you want and give it plenty of good consideration.

So where have you been learning about the religion of peace what I should explore?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 29, 2014 at 5:23 pm

> Stop the Trolls, a resident of Mountain View

I now see where you might feel provoked by my verbiage, I do not intend it in a hostile way, and I sincerely mean that. But also I do not think it is right for defenders of Islam ( and maybe I am missing it ) to not have some kind of statement on the actions of more radical elements including those that would fight against governments and use violence. The people in this community as far as I know are great people, but "the mosque", the building of a mosque to me has a symbolic value, much as people felt about the Mosque in lower Manhatten by the site of the WTC. As architecture I think the great mosques of the world are at the top of the list as beautiful structures as well as Islamic abstract art.

So, do you believe there is no evidence that mosques, particularly where Wahabism is practiced, have been used to push a jihadi agenda? Or is it a question of a degree, and you believe it is negligible and not a problem?

Where are you coming from. Are you a bystander speaking up to defend someone else with no stake in this - an anti-troll so to speak, or are you are Muslim that is expressing offense at my earlier comment. If so, I'm sorry to have offended you, but I did not think of any other way to bring up the subject. I don't think a poor choice of words should lead you to dismiss me, my opinions or concerns.

Why can't I be legitimately concerned and expressive about my fear of this worldwide movement without being called a bigot, and ignorant and a troll. Are you shunning all conversation on this subject, or just any that you do not like or control?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Local parent (Christian)
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 5:23 pm

I think it's a beautiful structure, and it's nicely set back. I hope it will be a place that brings hope and understanding and tolerance to our community.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 29, 2014 at 5:29 pm

@CrescentParkAnon: "I don't think a poor choice of words should lead you to dismiss me, my opinions or concerns."

Ever heard the saying, "When you're digging yourself into a hole, stop digging"?

Put the shovel away.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2014 at 6:16 pm

@CrescentParkAnon:

I may not like the sexism in Islam or Judaism or Catholicism or Mormonism....BUT WE HAVE FREEDOM OF RELIGION IN THIS COUNTRY.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sad
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2014 at 9:32 pm


I don't like discrimination by anybody, including hiding behind a religion to do it. It is still wrong.

Also, why put this building right across the street from the JCC?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by bea
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2014 at 10:21 pm

it is ugly...its undeniable...an eye sore and I will call it that based on its looks not what goes on inside.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2014 at 10:25 pm

People always refer to Islam as a religion. That is only part of it, for in it's entirety it is a sociological and economic system that believes in the male clerical dictatorship of all facets of society from A to Z. Read the history and premise of it's seventh century time-lock on the rights and subjugation of women and the complete intolerance of other faiths. To those that asked about visiting the setups in America is always the same: when a new Mosque is opened there is a period of public acceptance and friendliness which soon dissipates into the reality of closed services and prayers in Arabic that would shock most that the rhetoric is not so loving at all, but a much entwined precedence with it's Eastern brethren, often including monetary support for certain factions. We are all so ignorant, and in the end we will all pay for it if our government is not more on top of things. Otherwise what is happening in France and England will start here.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 29, 2014 at 10:36 pm

> I may not like the sexism in Islam or Judaism or Catholicism or Mormonism....BUT WE HAVE FREEDOM OF RELIGION IN THIS COUNTRY.

Yeah, I'm not too keen on any religion, except for the basic ideas, usually resolved down to "do unto others" if you dig down far enough. I don't see why we need some big structure to convey that to people. A lot of very bright people have written anti-religion books recently, and there are good reasons for people to be suspicious of organized religion.

But, freedom of religion is good, the corollary of "freedom of thought" is even better, which in most of what one hears about Islam is not very well supported. But beyond that the idea of a connectedness to God, and acting in the name of or in the stead of God is what irritates me about religions, and of course the abuse of that idea and the exploration of people, which should not be any kind of tenet of any kind of God or religion. Particularly the taking offense in the name of God and employing violence against others' freedom of religion is a big problem.

Of course most religion have had historic abuses, but looking in the news in the last 20 years there have been few of them that are as threatening and dark as actions taking in the name of Islam, and I don't think it should be called ignorance, bigotry or prejudice to mention that or bring it up for discussion.

If we were to see a reformation in Islam or that Islam's image would evolve to be as innocuous and bland as most other religions I'd be the first to hail that as a great thing, and who knows, maybe that could start right here in Palo Alto, but right now I admit, Mosques and Islam has a potential for making me nervous. It should be up to them to make others feel comfortable, not to attack people with honest concerns, in my opinion. After all religion is like a brand, and the brand of Islam has had some problems in many parts of the world.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 29, 2014 at 10:52 pm

> Stop the Trolls

[Portion removed.] I have expounded on my thoughts to the best of my limited abilities, with sincerity and at length, while you have just stayed in the sidelines calling me names. You may not subscribe to the same American freedoms and values that I do, but your pretense of taking offense at my free speech creates a chilling effect that I think you are intending to shut me up so there is no way for honest concerned citizens to have a discussion about this. [Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 29, 2014 at 11:12 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ysk
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 29, 2014 at 11:16 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 30, 2014 at 2:03 am

Back in 2010, the Mercury News reported that the architects for the project are former Palo Alto council member John Barton and Tony Carrasco.
Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Islam-Not-Good-For-Humans
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2014 at 7:35 am

[Post removed.]


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Questioning
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 30, 2014 at 8:08 am

Congratulations on the design and build team. This community building is a beautiful asset to the voice of diverse practices which to me, are not directly related to terrorist-violence which some posters suggests.

There are many comments here that DO publicly display violence: FEAR and VIOLENT thoughts. A cultural design that is not understood and therefore judged and vilified seems another display that does not include WISDOM IN ACTION.

Every cultural practice seems to have shining lights and shadow beliefs. Before you judge different cultures wholesale, consider what J.Carter says about S.Baptist and Catholics in our nation, that I love, yet TOLERATES these mysognistic cultural institutions.
Web Link

I see hope in the artist's choices to make intentional changes to tradition. I see hope in the current Pope's intentional choices to change tradition. I'm not ready to expunge a whole group of people who include these folks.

Before any one walks among the sacredness of others, they should all wash their hands & feet less they walk on other's minds with their "dirty feet".


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Islam-Not-Good-For-Humans
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2014 at 8:24 am

[Post removed.]


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Regression
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 30, 2014 at 8:47 am

Islam has actually regressed greatly since the 15 th century. Before that time, they were very progressive in science and mathematics, and especially medicine. But something drastic changed, and Islam began backsliding toward violence and ignorance.

Now Islam is good only for Islamic men. [Portion removed.]


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 30, 2014 at 10:14 am

Amazing to think that a positive article about a religious site in Palo Alto -- one that was built in the spirit of tolerance and harmony -- has brought out the haters and those who have no real idea about Islam on to this board.

Sad, really.

[Portion removed.]


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 30, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Sincere and many congratulations to Mrs. Durriya Tyabji, the artist and designer with the means and vision to bring our community some of the genuine beauty from the Mogul culture of India. Every religion has ugly or unpleasant skeletons or worse in their closets, but all also have good things, too. If Islam is ever to foster in our time the kind of peaceful societies which welcome progress through true liberty and freedom for all peoples, dragging it away from those who want to force it back to the 7th Century, it will be thanks to visionaries and leaders like her.

Before anyone else flies off the handle and assumes this mosque is an outpost of ISIL, read the Wikipedia page about how a Yemani Queen (!) and international merchants are key founders of Mrs. Tyabji's religion!
Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 30, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Ooops, still plowing through that Wiki item.... Mrs. Tyjabji's sect was persecuted by the Moguls.

"Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SCB94303
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 1, 2014 at 4:26 am

SCB94303 is a registered user.

Why did you raise it up with steps? How is a handicapped or elderly person supposed to get in if they use a wheelchair or cannot walk stairs? Too bad for them then, huh?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 1, 2014 at 9:00 am

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

The Greek Orthodox Church in Belmont just held its annual open house with ***great food***, music and entertainment; no attempts at religious conversion were made, and a good time was had by all. We Greeks know how to entertain, and our cooking is, well, stupendously good; those who've eaten with Palo Alto's Greeks know what I'm talkin' 'bout. I hereby encourage the leaders of the new mosque to bridge the cultural and theological divide by way of our agnostic palates. How about a community open house at the mosque, open to all & dressed as we are, to henceforth rival the Belmont Greek Festival? My family & I RSVP.


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