“A Third Space within the Masjid”: The Origins of the Qahwa Café and Youth Center of the ADAMS Center

“Muslim minorities in the non-Muslim world will ultimately realize that their history has put them in a position somehow reminiscent of the Prophet’s Meccan period. Their isolation will purify and strengthen their belief. It will refine their thought and make their tools precise, and at an appropriate time, they will start to send ‘expressive’ postcards home. Then there will begin another migration, not in space and time, but from blindness of a certain kind to a clearer vision, from spiritless materiality toward expressive spirituality.” – Gulzar Haider[1]


“I didn’t feel like I had a space, I didn’t feel understood, I didn’t feel accepted, I didn’t feel religious enough, I didn’t feel like the masjid was for me…” So says Ali Altalib, one of the founders of the Qahwa Café and Youth Center of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) in Northern Virginia and the suburbs of Washington DC. Ali’s sentiments are relevant to Maria Dakake’s opening essay “Reflecting Muslim Community Ethics in the Built Environment” where she invites contributors to reflect upon “the connection between Muslim ethics and aesthetics in the communal environment.”

Previous essays have responded to Dakake’s call by focusing on The Ethics of Place and the Production of SpaceThe Women’s Mosque , and the Spiritual Community of Dar al Islam. This blog will address youth issues, specifically young Muslims attempting to create structures that represent themselves within the context of Muslim American communities. While there is literature on Muslim youth spaces, its focus is generally on “virtual” or “minority” spaces, making the study of the “built environment” of Qahwa all the more important


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