California Mosque Struggles for Survival, A Victim of Its Own Success

By Adil James, MMNS

The Muslim population in the United States has faced a continuing crisis of growth–continually we need new mosques, new schools, new centers of social life.  When confronted with the issue of what kind of buildings to buy, many Muslim communities have looked past the many churches with “for sale” signs and instead bought houses or retail- or even industrial-zoned buildings to transform into mosques.

Residential areas have benefits in convenience, starting price, and for some, feelings that the land has not been affected by teachings with which we as Muslims take issue.  However, the downside is the ability of communities with residential mosques to grow.  Once worshippers start to pile in for Friday prayers, neighbors complain about worshippers parking everywhere.  Perhaps Christian neighbors ignorant of our prayer schedule wonder why people are coming at all hours of day and night to the house “mosque.”  As a house, the area might be in close proximity to other houses.

One remedy is to, instead, buy some of the many available churches and convert them to mosques.  Alternatively, communities are forced to address and work through parking challenges.
One mosque which has confronted this very problem is the Madinah Academy in San Bruno, California.  The Madinah Academy once had many worshippers coming for Friday prayers, but because of the parking issue the mosque has been forced into an expensive renovation. 

“The city asked the mosque to move Friday prayers because of the parking issue,” explains Mr. Dean Moidin, president of the mosque.  “We have an agreement with the mosque now to build a mosque with parking in the basement.” 

According to the mosque website, it needs $50,000 in hand to begin construction of the new masjid.  In total the renovations the community wants to make to the mosque are estimated to cost $750,000.

The improvements to the mosque involve many stages, including Architectural Design and Engineering, Surveyor and Soil testing; Demolishing and Construction of a new building; Labor and Materials; Plumbing and Draining; Electrical; Clean up and Painting.

“We registered in 2001, and bought this place in 2003,” explains Dean Moidin, the president of the Madinah Academy.  The community is mostly composed of Muslim immigrants to the Bay area originating from Fiji.

Mr. Moidin explains that the Madinah Academy was forced to shut their school–“because of the parking problem, we shut down for a while until we’ve built the new one.”

Currently about ten worshippers come for the daily prayers, while the Friday prayers are performed outside the mosque.  Before the parking issue about 120 people prayed Jumu’ah in the mosque.

“We collected $20,000, but that is gone…we paid about $16,500 to the architect, and about $5,000 to the city for the application, and for other city fees, including ‘Property alignment’. 

This community is small but sincere, working class immigrants from Fiji who need a place to worship–so please consider donating to help them.

Madinah Academy is located at 714 4th Ave., San Bruno CA  94066; 650-742-0496; Al Madinah Academy, 501©(3); Tax ID No. 22-69935; their website is at


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