PEI

Newcomers celebrate Muslim holy month for first time in new home

Many newcomers and Syrian refugees are celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Prince Edward Island for the time.

'We are just like any other Muslims and not what you see on T.V.'

Najam Chishti is the president of the Muslim Society of P.E.I. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

Newcomers and Syrian refugees are celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Prince Edward Island for the first time.

Najam Chishti, president of the Muslim Society of P.E.I. says 30 refugee families have joined the mosque in Charlottetown.

"The community has really grown with the influx of refugees and the professionals and the engineers and the doctors who have come and made the Island as their home."

The mosque opened four years ago and attendance had grown to 300 people.

We are just here to, we have opened our gates to anybody who wants to come.- Najam Chishti

And while everyone who attends is Muslim, they come from different countries and cultures.

"It is very diverse definitely as I said, there are almost over 20 different countries represented in Prince Edward Island," said Chishti.

"We have to accommodate everybody and we have done very nicely and [the] community's very receptive to all these changes and people are very happy."   

When the new arrivals join the community they quickly learn the customs and cultures in Canada from people here.

Express views freely

Chishti says they learn that they can express their views and people will listen and they will not be persecuted for that.

Abdul Rahim Abusneena, 15, moved from Dubai two years ago and wants to be a dentist.

Now in Grade 10 at Colonel Gray High School, he said he missed his friends and thought he'd never have new ones. But that changed when he went to the mosque.

"When I came here I started like making some friends and it's not hard to make new friends."
A group of Muslim men, including newcomers to P.E.I., celebrate the holy month of Ramadan at the mosque in Charlottetown. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

Chishti says now that the congregation is growing, the next thing they want to do is find space for a Muslim cemetery.

"If I die tomorrow I would like my children to visit me over here instead of going to Halifax where we don't know where they are. So that's one, second thing's very important that people would like to be buried where they have lived, 30, 40 years."  

While the Muslim community has spent the month focusing on their faith by re-reading the Qur'an, praying and doing acts of charity, they will end it with a celebration.

They have invited all their neighbours of all religions to a barbecue. Chishti says he hopes it will encourage people to continue to ask questions.

"We are just like any other Muslims and not what you see on T.V. We are just here to, we have opened our gates to anybody who wants to come."

now