Town Square

An ending and a beginning for local Muslims

Original post made on Oct 16, 2007

For the past six years, Esmail Essabhoy has been searching for a permanent place of worship.
Two and a half years ago, for a hefty price tag of more than $1.6 million, he helped his Muslim sect, Dawoodi Bohra, purchase an old church located at 998 San Antonio Road in Palo Alto. Photos by Norbert von der Groeben/Palo Alto Online.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 17, 2007, 10:03 AM


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2007 at 1:03 pm

We call Middlefield Road the Bible Belt. With the JCC and now a Mosque on San Antonio, we will have to think up a nickname for it. How about the Wailing Wall, oh sorry, that is already gone.

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Posted by aetheist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2007 at 5:06 pm

How about "Holy Highway", "One Way", "Abrahamic Avenue" ?

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Posted by Concerned Neighbour
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 7:05 am

I believe one of the duties of a mosque is to have a 'call to worship' 5 times a day. In India where I grew up, it used to be done over a public loudspeaker and could be as early as 4 AM in the morning.

The question I have is on how the local mosques handle the public call to worship? And how does this proposed mosque plan to handle this?

Can someone clarify for me please?

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Posted by well
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 17, 2007 at 2:42 pm

well, a ''wake up call'' is maybe what's needed, LOL

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Posted by Tim Whitman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 17, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Hello Palo Alto, Traffic and other noise will no doubt increase, get use to.

Here is what the call of diversity sounds like:
Web Link

Here are the words.
?- Allah is Great, Allah is Great?- I bear witness that there is no divinty but Allah
- I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger
- I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger
- Hasten to the prayer, Hasten to the prayer
- Hasten to real success, Hasten to real success,
- Allah is Great, Allah is Great
- There is no divinity but Allah

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Posted by Been There Heard That
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 17, 2007 at 11:02 pm


When we were relocated to an Islamic country, the Chinese people in the HR department took us out to find a rental house. Their number one priority was to find us a home that was farthest away from a Mosque, for that same reason - the blaring calls to prayer 5 times a day over a loud speaker.

I also remember that Friday afternoons were especially busy.

Your link brought back memories.

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Posted by Mustafa
a resident of another community
on Oct 18, 2007 at 7:21 am

I am a Bohra living in London, England. The call to pray is done inside the building and not broadcast outside. This would be pointless as the people outside of no reason to hear it and would be annoyed. Friday afternoons may be busy but it depends on how many people live there and use the building.

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Posted by Joyce Tang
a resident of Los Altos
on Oct 18, 2007 at 9:41 am

Currently the call to prayer at the Jamil Masjid on California Avenue takes place within the mosque, according to Mohammad Jamil of Jamil Oriental Carpets (and a mosque attendee). The new south Palo Alto mosque planned for construction does not plan to observe the five prayers a day but will have a call to prayer any time prayer is offered. The new mosque will be active mainly during Friday sermons/prayers and for special occasions. Of course, people can drop in at any point for personal prayer.

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Posted by Two Basic Questions
a resident of another community
on Oct 18, 2007 at 4:10 pm

Excuse me, but is there anyone aware of a single Islamic country that lives peacefully with its neighboring non-Islamic countries, or that affords its own non-Islamic people equal rights? Is there anything special about Palo Alto or anywhere else in the Western world, that will prevent this same pattern of inequality and conflict from taking root, once their numbers increase enough?

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Posted by bay area resident
a resident of another community
on Oct 18, 2007 at 9:23 pm

mosques obviously operate differently in muslim countries than they do here, given differences in the surrounding culture and society. the vast majority, if not all mosques in america and in western countries preform the call to prayer inside to respect the fact neighbors don't want to hear it.

it's too easy to throw the blame on religion. what about local culture? economic disparity? corrupt governments? a historically western-centered world favoring western countries? plus colonial influences, especially from the british. don't you think many muslims immigrants leave their countries to get away from problems in their homeland stemming from such historical and socio-economic factors? why on earth would they recreate them here?

america has separation of church and state, the supreme court and the bill of rights. provided that the system doesn't fall apart, the so called 'patterns' you fear will be kept in check. a mosque in palo alto won't hurt anyone.

people tend to fear the unknown. why don't you visit a mosque and see what really goes on within the walls yourself?

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Posted by Nonsense
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Oct 18, 2007 at 10:06 pm

It is so obvious when you observe a religion with which you are not familiar, how ridiculous and illogical and unreal it is. It is really hard to understand how any reasonable person could go along with it. Utter make believe, believed fervently. Make believe magic, make believe god forced on children who then believe it when the grow up. So much no-sense, so much blood shed over nothing.

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Posted by bikes2work
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:07 pm

"Religion is the opium of the people." -Karl Marx Web Link

I'm agnostic (formerly Catholic). As long as it doesn't affect others, worship whomever and however you like. Just don't knock on my door and ask "Have you heard the good news?". And don't drop any free personality test pamphlets on my door either.

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:53 pm

Two Basic,

I thought Indonesia was reasonably mellow as far as its neighbors are concerned. And I hadn't heard of anything massively dicriminatory re: their treatment of the Hindu/Buddhist Balinese.

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Posted by joe
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 19, 2007 at 7:10 am

Two Basic Questions, no one is saying the Jewish Community Center is unwelcome because of the actions of Israel, so I think you should extend the same courtesy to the people involved with the mosque, namely judging them as individuals and not by the actions of foreign countries.

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Posted by Two Basic Questions
a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2007 at 4:29 pm

Somebody mentioned Indonesia as a Muslim country at peace with its neighbors and that gave its non-Muslim citizens equal rights. I don't think that Indonesia is a very good example. But please keep looking.

Indonesia borders Timor-Leste, a majority Roman Catholic country. Though the two countries are on better terms today, Indonesia invaded Timor Leste in 1975, claiming to be fighting Comminists, and in the ensuing fight, many Timorese died and the Timorese infrastructure was mostly destroyed. Indonesian forces tried to stay in power, even after the Timorese voted for the return of their independence, so the Indonesian-led forces had to be kicked out by an Australian-led peacekeeping force around 2001. So much for peace with neighbors.

And since human rights are an issue of contention between the US and Indonesia, because of womens' rights issues, workers rights, such things as it being a crime to insult the president or vice president, female circumcision still in practice, and sharia law becoming stronger there, and since the 2005 bombing of tourists in Bali occurred in Indonesia, and that bomb just didn't fall out of the sky,
so that with a 90% Muslim population, I'd say its a fair bet that non-Muslims in Indonesia are second class citizens.

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2007 at 6:16 pm


After the ending of Indonesia's Suharno dictatorship in 1998, East Timor peacefully seceded. Indonesia's also managed to hold an open election. It's far from a perfect place, but it's not a country that wars on its neighbors (Timor was part of Indonesia) nor is religious friction a huge issue.

Basically, you're moving the goalposts. You have friction in many Muslim countries, but you can't extrapolate the effects of colonialism and its aftermath in any of these countries. Indonesia does remarkably well given that a bunch of cultures were basically thrown together for the convenience of the Dutch.

Jordan strikes me as a country trying quite hard to maintain peace with its neighbors.

As others have pointed out, Muslims in this country are not the same as the governments of Muslim countries. (Besides, plenty of the Muslims I know are actually from India--lots of Muslims come from countries that aren't seen as Muslim.)

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Posted by lets be fair
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 20, 2007 at 12:45 am

Having a mosque in your midst is the same as having a church or a synogogue. No different. We all live and work together, so why should our way of worship be a source of concern. It does not change us as to who we are. In fact, it gives us a greater appreciation of our diversity and encourages us to live a peaceful life with eachother.

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Posted by IrfanR
a resident of another community
on Oct 29, 2007 at 9:45 am

Hello All
I am a volunteer with a mosque in downtown San Jose and to confirm what others have said, we do our call for prayer inside and do not project the sound outdoors in the neighborhood.
I also would suggest that people who may have any concerns about what Muslims do or how they practice their religion, should contact their local mosque and go and visit it. Most of the mosques welcome non-Muslim guests and neighbors to observe their prayers and services (usually held on Friday afternoon - during the lunch hour). If anyone would like to visit the mosque in downtown san jose, please feel free to email me at:
Peace. Irfan

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Posted by Two Basic Questions
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2007 at 8:20 pm

To those who may have said I should visit a mosque, I will say that for a time I have taken several occasions to listened to recordings of imams giving their lectures in US mosques, that were posted by these different Islamic centers here in the US on their respective websites, and severel times I have heard some of these heavily-accented men say things that have made me wonder whether the United States is undergoing a slow and hostile occupation. But if I visited a mosque in person for a couple hours, I doubt I would hear anything suspicious, since I am obviously a Westerner and any would-be radical iman would have sense enough to tone down his rhetoric while I'm passing through.

So I asked my two questions because although there have been some relatively short and isolated religious-based conflicts between some of the various groups and denoninations who comprise the western world, and who comprise our American Judeo-Christian society, as a rule they all have and still do live peacefully among each other, with mutual respect, while I do not believe it ever was the same situation among Islamic peoples anywhere at anytime. So I am concerned that the sense of brotherhood that still exists here in America will be lost. And it this sense of brotherhood from the Atlantic to the Pacific, this basic sense of trust, that makes the many great things we do possible in this land. Sure, people can scoff at that, but when you really compare the US to the rest of the world, then you will have to admit it's true.

So Moslems in America should learn how to directly reply to such questions about thier doctrinal beliefs, about non-Moslems and
such things as what to do when fellow Moslems convert to other faiths. Otherwise they will never integrate into American society.
And from what little I know it seems to me that the only way for Moslems to assimilate is to change their religion, since it appears part of their doctrine to achieve control of society and to exercise capital punishment on Moslems who convert away from Islam. Thankfully, those doctrines simply won't be accepted here in the US.

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Posted by Rani
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 24, 2008 at 11:00 am

does Jamil Masjid offer sunday school for young children? Or do they have to go to San Jose?