This past Friday was my first visit to the Washington Islamic Academy and MAS Community Center in Alexandria, Virginia. The building is surrounded by some green foliage and as I walked from my car to the front door, I saw a deer galloping off into the woods. There was a woman hosing down the sidewalk outside the front doors with water, which set the tone for my visit there. The school area, although school is out of session, was remarkably clean and neat. This cleanliness continued into the musalla prayer area.
The crowd for jumu’ah here seems to be one of the more mature in terms of managing gender relations. The main entrance to the musalla is used by both men and women, the imam, Johari Abdul-Malik, arrived early, and the khutbah started on-time. When space got tight, Imam Johari asked the brothers to move up to make room for the men who were standing outside. Towards the back of the prayer space there’s a small divider used to demarcate the men’s area from the women’s area and affords a measure of privacy to those women who want it without impinging on those who would rather see the khatib (lecturer).
The space is tight, I hear the mosque community is looking to expand and renovate their unfinished basement. But I was impressed by the normal and respectful behavior of the congregants despite their close proximity as can be seen in the above pictures.