Nova Scotia

How a Nova Scotia town came to have a mosque within a church

There aren't many Muslims in the Oxford, N.S., area, but there are enough that they wanted a place to gather and worship.

Trinity United Church in Oxford rents out its community hall for a nominal fee for use as a mosque

Men gather for prayer at the mosque at Trinity United Church. (Submitted by Alia Kamareddine)

There aren't many Muslims in the Oxford, N.S., area, but there are enough that they wanted a place to gather and worship.

With newcomers coming into the community and the county, conversations have been happening over the past few months about where this space might be and led to the Trinity United Church opening up a place of worship in its community hall for Muslims.

It has become what some community members are calling a "mosque within a church."

Alison Draper lives in Oxford and she said that although the idea is a little different, the church has been very open and accommodating.

Bringing communities together

She said the mosque has brought the two communities together, and has created an environment for growth and learning.

"The idea of having the mosque in the church has even amplified the understanding in the community," Draper told CBC's Information Morning.

Formally known as the Muslim Community Group, it pays a nominal fee for heat and electricity so that the church does not incur any costs.

Alia Kamareddine is the leader of this group. She has been living in the area for over 20 years, and and owns a local pizza shop.

When she arrived in Oxford, she said that she was one of only three Muslims in town.

Lack of nearby mosque meant long trips

She would have to travel into Halifax to go to mosque, a trip that would take her about two hours.

"It was hard, we didn't usually go every time," said Kamareddine. "We'd usually go maybe once a year, sometimes once every two years."

She said she never could have imagined a mosque within the local church when she first arrived in town, but the church has been very helpful in making this goal a reality.

Having the space has been particularly important at this time of year.

Alia Kamareddine (middle) and other women from the mosque with Oxford Mayor Trish Stewart at iftar. (Submitted by Alia Kamareddine)

For Ramadan, the group has been meeting once a week on Saturday evenings for prayer and for breaking their fast with iftar, which is the evening meal that takes place at sunset to break the daily Ramadan fast.

The group has been inviting members of the community to join in on the festivities, including Oxford Mayor Trish Stewart, who has joined them for iftar.

There are 10 families who currently use the mosque.

After Ramadan, they plan to meet about once a month in the space.

With files from Information Morning