Nova Scotia

Halifax mosque marks beginning of Ramadan with 1st broadcast from new radio station

The Ummah Masjid mosque in Halifax had the first broadcast of its new radio station on Friday night to mark the start of Ramadan. The mosque's imam says it is the first Muslim radio station in Atlantic Canada.

'It gives people the feeling they are kind of home'

Abdullah Yousri says the radio station wouldn't have come together without the hard work of many volunteers. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

When the first broadcast of the One Ummah Radio Station hit the airwaves to mark the start of the holy month of Ramadan, Abdullah Yousri felt a sense of pride. 

Broadcasting live from a small room in the basement of the Ummah Masjid mosque in Halifax, the new radio station is the product of two years of planning and hard work. 

"It was a long process, but we feel like it's worth it and paid off at the end," said Yousri, the imam and executive director of the mosque. 

Yousri says it is the first Muslim radio station in Atlantic Canada. 

The first broadcast was the Taraweeh Prayer, also called the Night Ramadan Prayer. Yousri said the timing couldn't have been better. 

"Everyone was very excited to hear the prayers and the service and radio," Yousri said with a smile. "People were taking videos in their cars of the radio and the broadcasts and sharing it with everyone and with us, which is a very nice feeling."

A display in the lobby of the Ummah Masjid mosque celebrates the holy month of Ramadan. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Yousri said the radio station is culturally significant for the community.

"For many cultures, they used to put the radio on maybe for hours and hours. Having the radio coming from the mosque with the different programming is … custom specifically around seasons like Ramadan," Yousri said.

"So it gives people the feeling they are kind of home."

Volunteers came together

Yousri said the idea to start a radio station was circulating in the community for years, but the approval process is arduous.

"They tried multiple times before to get it done, but they couldn't finish it and they couldn't complete the paperwork," he said.

But two years ago when the COVID-19 pandemic began, the need for a station grew. 

"It was very difficult for so many brothers and sisters and families to come together and come for a prayer," Yousri said. "So we have been thinking about doing this over the radio to make it more accessible for so many other community members."

A group of around 15 volunteers came together to bring the station to fruition. Youssef Ahmed donated his time to the cause and became the head volunteer. 

Youssef Ahmed sits in the mosque's radio station. He donated his time for two years to get the station running. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

"So we start the whole process, starting from figuring out what are the procedures that we have to follow and then start all this communications with [Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada] and all the government agencies that we have to deal with," Ahmed said.

He said COVID created delays with the paperwork. It also caused supply chain issues for ordering equipment and installing the radio antenna on the roof of the mosque. 

Because of the uncertainty, the project was kept secret from most of the Muslim community until it was finished. 

"It was really touching for me to imagine the two years of trying to reach this point," Ahmed said. 

The radio station in the mosque is shown. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

For now, the station will focus on prayers and announcements about Ramadan, but Yousri said he hopes the station can branch into new topics and languages after the holy month.

"The Muslim community is very diverse and we have people coming from all corners of the world, different ethnicities and lots of immigrants," Yousri said. "And we are hoping that using different languages, we can reach everyone and let them feel part of this." 

The One Umma Radio Station is live on 107.5 FM for six hours a day, from 5-7 a.m., 6:30-8:30 p.m. and 9 -11 p.m. AT. Between broadcasts, it goes live for five minutes for each of the day's calls to prayer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicola Seguin is a TV, radio, and online journalist with CBC Nova Scotia, based in Kjipuktuk (Halifax). If you have a story idea, email her at nicola.seguin@cbc.ca or find her on twitter @nicseg95.

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