Islamic Centers & Mosques

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Seeking liberal and accepting mosque

April 2006


I am looking for the most liberal and accepting mosque in the Bay Area.

Examples of what I consider liberal and accepting: open to non-Muslims who are interested, okay if some women choose not to wear hijab outside the mosque, women have a strong role in the decision-making of the mosque, helpful to those who are converts, non-judgmental of those who moved away from the practice and want to get back in, etc.

As a more concrete example, I am an adult Muslim who does not know how to read Arabic and I do not know all of the recitations for the daily prayers. I want a place where I can learn this without being looked down upon even though I am not a convert and I should know this already. I did know it when I was very young, but have forgotten and am embarrassed because all of the adult classes are for those new to Islam.

I am willing to travel anywhere in the area for the right place. Any recommendations?

Thanks! Searching

I would suggest you try Masjid al-Imam, 4606 Martin King Jr Way. Friday Jumma prayer starts at 1:30p My wife and I (raised Catholic) are converts and we both like it very much. It's a very open and accepting group - it's operated by the Naqshbandi sufis. The imam is a warm and delightful fellow from Morocco, full of love and never utters a word that creates separation. anon

A Salaam Alaikum

May I recommend, The Zaytuna Institute in Hayward, CA. A great place for any level of interest. Their web address is: This would be a great place to get involved in the islamic community, in whatever way you feel comfortable. Insha Allah I hope you find a place you feel welcomed and accepted. Your Sister

The Islamic and Cultural Center of Northern California (ICCNC) in Oakland is the most liberal mosque I've known. The manager is a woman who does not wear Hijab,in fact. There are folks from all kinds of backgrounds and stages of practice there. At least it was that way when I frequented it about 5 years ago. Check out their website LP

HI, I belong to a mosque that sounds very similiar to what you are looking for. Go to and check out the background history and 'group.' Because the group is Sufi and has a long history based in Turkiye there is a majority or Turks or American converts that go here, it is not very large (the group used to be larger, some had to move away from the Bay Area due to the dot com bust and housing prices). I myself searched for almost exactly the same things you listed in your post, a non-judgmental envrionment where I could learn, a place where I could ask many questions/ seeking knowledge while not being mistaken for being ''disrespectful'' for asking. I went to many other mosques in my quest for a place to 'fit-in' and learn 5-6 years ago, and was chastised for not knowing how to pray well/ recite Quran, etc.. I was also attacked with questions about my family, background etc... receiving a lot of the cultural ''low'' Islam judgements from those other mosque members (women) because I did not appear 'traditional.'

Our group usually does not wear hijab outside of the mosque/community center - although we are encouraged to be modest in dress and manner (this group survived in Turkiye after the rise of Ataturk by becoming a 'historical folk music' group that practiced in private during times that muslims where persecuted - anyways, very long history). Many ''non'' muslims have come to visit without hijab and/or long pants, etc.. Our sheikh is American himeself, and of course had to learn about Islam from the beginning as an adult about 20 years ago. Another wonderful group in the Bay Area is AMILA (not sure of website , - do a search)run/started by some really progressive and socially aware younger Muslim Americas.

Please contact me with any questions. Good luck on your search for a progressive, positive and welcoming place to grow in your Iman.


We've been in the Bay Area since 1999 and have been searching for a progressive muslim communiity since then. We haven't really found a mosque that works for us on a consistant basis, but have enjoyed some of the monthly activities hosted by the group AMILA (American Muslims Intent on Learning and Activism). >From our experience, they are one of the most open and accepting groups in the area. In addition to monthly meetings, they also host weekly Iftars during Ramadan which tend to be well attended and a nice introduction to the group. They have a website

There are also supposedly progressive muslim meetups ( ) that occur throughout the area but we've never attended so can't tell you much more than that.

Masjid Warithdeen located @1652 47th Ave in Oakland.

There are several classes for the new convert, as well as the continuing student. The community has been in existence for over 30 years and is predominately attended by American born Muslims. Kay

More liberal mosque or Islamic Center

Jan 2005

My husband and I are Muslim (he is a convert) and we have not been active in the Bay Area Muslim community but we would like to start getting involved. However, the mosques and Islamic centers here seem to be much more conservative than what I am used to from Southern California. For example, I don't wear an Hijab for daily life. And because it has been so long since I was involved in Islam, I have forgotten many things I once knew. My ability to read and speak Arabic is very rusty and it has been years since I read the Quran. Also, since my husband is a convert, he needs help learning about Islam but I am not a good person to teach him. It's embarrassing to not know what everyone expects you to know.

What would be the best mosque or Islamic center for us? I am looking for the most liberal in the Bay Area, with people who would be understanding that he and I both need to learn a lot of things, even though I really should already know them. Thanks! Anon

The Sufi Jerrahi Mosque in Redwood City is a great, open minded place to go to practice and ask questions, etc...

I searched for awhile before finding them and always felt the other mosques where too ''conservative'' or based in a ''culturally Islamic'' mind-set for me. I was able to ask any questions I wanted and and ask advise about praying, etc.. without having to feel bad, etc.. The Sheik himself is an America who converted to Islam over 20 years ago and teaches at a local college. please feel free to email me with questions :) Tijen

Even though I may not have the best answer for you I am going to let you know my experiences. We attend the Masjid in Alameda and have found it to be a nice small group that is very diverse in background and ethnicity and therefore practices. Most of the women do wear hijab except for myself. I wear an African style head wrap and have not had any problems with this. jounjian