Calgary

Muslim community gets 'proper place' to pray in Airdrie

The small Muslim community in Airdrie, Alta., now has a place of their own to get together and pray. They've opened a mosque.

Until new mosque opened, people prayed at home, at local church or in Calgary

The first prayer session is held at the new Airdrie Islamic Centre, set up by the Muslim Council of Calgary. Airdrie’s small Muslim population hopes it will be a focal point for their community. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

The small Muslim community in Airdrie, Alta., now has a place of their own to get together and pray.

After many years of using a local church and travelling to mosques in northeast Calgary, the community just opened the Airdrie Islamic Centre.

The first prayers where held there on Thursday.

The centre will hold daily prayers and Friday prayers — called Jumma'ah — as well as Islamic school classes for kids on Sundays, operated by the North West Islamic School of Calgary.

"I'm very, very happy," Yasmin Khan said. "Mostly we pray at home, and it's different to come and do a collective job here.

"And I'm so happy to see the kids here, that they are going to take lessons and get to know their own religion."

Yasmin Khan says the community has been patiently waiting for a place to call their own in Airdrie, Alta. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

'Proper place' for prayers

"Now we have a proper place to say our prayers," said Mona Shehzad, who has lived in Airdrie for the past 11 years. The city is estimated to have at least 60 Muslim families living there.

"The church here, it was fabulous, really generous that they gave us that place to worship and it really stands for the Canadian culture that we can say our prayers even in a church and we really appreciate that," said Shehzad.

Women gather and chat following Airdrie Islamic Centre’s first prayer session. The centre will offer Sunday school for kids, as well as cultural and social events. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

But the new Islamic centre, tucked away behind the Safeway off Main Street, is not just about prayers.

It also provides a gathering spot for the community to host different cultural and social activities.

"It feels really good that now finally we have our own place and everyone's welcome here. If people have questions, we'll be happy to answer them," Muhammad Huraira said.

The Muslim Council of Calgary is funding the new centre.

"The council represents about 80,000 Muslims in Calgary and when we feel there's a gap we try and fill that need," said Ghazanfar Zafar, secretary of the MCC.

Airdrie’s mosque held its first prayer session at the newly opened Islamic centre behind the city’s Safeway. Airdrie, Alta., is about 20 kilometres north of Calgary. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

"This centre is phase one, and in the future we may even build a permanent centre."

Airdrie resident Muhib Ali said the new centre will be more convenient for Muslims living there.

"When we moved here a couple of years ago, we didn't really have a lot of things for the Muslim community and it's nice to see we're trying to make a footprint here," said Ali, who added he won't miss icy winter drives to Calgary to pray.

"It's the start of a stronger community, and it will help bring awareness of our religion here, too."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan McGarvey

Journalist

Dan McGarvey is a mobile journalist focused on filing stories remotely for CBC Calgary’s web, radio, TV and social media platforms, using only an iPhone and mobile tech. His work is used by mobile journalism (mojo) trainers and educators around the world. Dan is focused on the city’s diverse northeast quadrant and sharing stories from under-reported communities. You can email story ideas and tips to Dan at Dan.Mcgarvey@cbc.ca.

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