Masjid Mu‘ath Bin Jabal is located at the center of a Detroit neighborhood that is almost entirely Yemeni. Established in 1976, the mosque began as a prayer space in a coffee shop. It is housed today in an old church building with an attached charter school. The sanctuary of the church has been substantially enlarged and now serves as a prayer space that can easily accommodate a thousand men. A large space for women has been set aside upstairs.
Mu‘ath Bin Jabal is a focal point for the growing population of Yemeni immigrants who live along the border of Hamtramck and Detroit. Small shops that cater to Yemenis line the streets next to the mosque. Young men socialize in front of the local grocery, speaking a mélange of Arabic and English, while bicycle brigades of Yemeni children cruise the streets. The neighborhood was blighted and dangerous when Yemenis starting moving there in the 1970s, but the degraded housing stock was cheap. Over the last 20 years, Yemeni workers have bought and repaired dozens of houses and, in increasing numbers, have brought their wives and children to Detroit. Their school, mosque, and stores are the infrastructure of a stable, socially and morally conservative enclave that has excellent relations with the Detroit police, the public school system, and city government, all of whom appreciate the grassroots urban reclamation project the Yemenis are running in their slice of Detroit.