Street Week: Bruce Randolph

Drive-by praying with strangers who aren’t really strangers

Meet the people of Bruce Randolph Avenue.

Inside the Northeast Denver Islamic Center, just off Bruce Randolph Avenue at Albion Street. Sept. 11, 2020.

Inside the Northeast Denver Islamic Center, just off Bruce Randolph Avenue at Albion Street. Sept. 11, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
staff photos

Editor’s note: Kevin and Dave roamed Bruce Randolph Avenue and talked to most everyone they saw. Every day during Street Week, we’re rolling out mini profiles of the everyday heroes they found. Find more here.

It was time for the third prayer of Salat, the daily prayers for Muslims. Muhammad and his wife happened to be driving east down Bruce Randolph Avenue. They stopped at the mosque because it was there.

“As a Muslim, we can pray in any mosque. Doesn’t matter. I mean, you don’t have to be any kind of a member,” Muhammad said in a soft voice. “If it’s a mosque, you can stop, pray, and go. And that’s very nice, to be able to do it.”

Muhammad did not want to have his picture taken or share his last name. But he had no problem sharing his faith — with a stranger holding a microphone to his face, yes, but with others who he had never laid eyes on, too. He had been driving down Bruce, and mere minutes later, Muhammad was on his knees, shoes off and socks on, praying next to a stranger and a brother.

“This guy I never met him. We met, pray together. ‘Salaam, salaam.’ That’s it, as if I know him for a long time,” said Muhammad.

We’re at Masjid Taqwa, also known as the Northeast Denver Islamic Center, on the corner of Bruce Randolph and Albion Street. The mosque is catty-corner from a church that will give way to a cache of new townhomes. The development was controversial — the mosque’s patrons and neighbors feared displacement from gentrification, but the local imam worked with homebuilders on a compromise that ended with a commitment to affordable housing.

Muhammad had heard something here or there about the controversy-turned-compromise — a rarity in Denver development. But he doesn’t really keep tabs on that sort of thing, he said. He was there to pray.

Want some more? Explore other Street Week: Bruce Randolph stories.

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