Airdrie's Muslim community celebrates new mosque site
Fundraising is now underway to build the city’s first proper mosque
After years of praying in local churches and rented spaces, Airdrie's Muslim community finally has a place of its own.
The community now owns a lot and two buildings where it plans to build a brand new mosque that will serve the city's growing Muslim population.
The two older buildings are currently being renovated and will be used in the short-term before a new mosque is built. One is a small mosque where men, women and children can pray. The other, which was the first mayor of Airdrie's home, is currently being used as an Islamic education centre for kids and a meeting place.
The buildings will eventually be demolished and replaced by a new mosque, complete with a dome and minaret.
"For the Muslim community of Airdrie it's something historic, even for the city of Airdrie it's historic," said Syed Soharwardy with the Al-Madinah Calgary Islamic Assembly, the organization behind the Airdrie mosque.
The community has previously used the Airdrie United Church to hold Friday prayers and Ramadan prayers and also set up a temporary mosque in a rented building.
Members of the community say the new mosque will be welcoming and much more than a place of worship.
Everyone is welcome
"We are trying to bring the community together. It's like a cultural hub for us, with potlucks and parties," said Mona Shehzad.
"We are not only Muslims here but we are trying to be good Canadians also and we want to practice the good values and transfer those good values to our next generation," said Shehzad.
"We welcome everyone whether you are a Christian or Jew, we'd like to promote our local community and everyone is welcome here. If you want to come and observe us our doors are open for all Canadians," she said. "We will start a food bank also, not for only Muslims but for everyone. And we want to do more social gatherings here and in the future maybe inter-faith dialogues also."
Shehzad says when she moved to Airdrie there were only three or four Pakistani Muslim families but over 13 years more and more families have moved there.
The mosque they hope to build on the site in the future would look similar to mosques in other cities.
"It will be a formal mosque with its minaret and its dome. It will have an education section, a females area or worship, a men's area, an ablution area, it's a typical mosque," said Soharwardy.
The next step is a fundraising push in the wider Muslim community to raise the money needed to make the new mosque a reality.