Thanks to some great weather over the summer, the new mosque south of Saskatoon is on track to meet its projected completion date of December.
“The weather has actually helped a lot this year. We haven’t lost days that we had planned we might lose in terms of progress, so we’re still heading toward that completion date,” said Shamoon Rashid. Rashid provides construction oversight for the project and is the president of the local Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
When completed, the new facility will seat up to 2,000 worshippers. Due to continued growth in the community, the building had to be increased in size a couple of times.
“When this project got started, we had to increase the size even before it was built. And even during construction we had to increase the size,” said Rashid. The main hall was increased to accommodate 800 worshippers, up from 600, and the multi-purpose hall holds 1200. It will be the largest mosque in Saskatchewan.
The Saskatchewan Immigrant Nomination Program (SINP), has made it possible for many people to make a new home in our province. “Our community is heavily persecuted in Pakistan even as we speak,” said Rashid. “It has been declared by law that the Ahmadiyya Muslim community cannot call ourselves Muslims in Pakistan. Government supported persecution is part of the constitution.
“Because of that persecution, and due to the SINP, a lot of members have made Canada their home because of the freedom of religion that we have here.”
Rashid moved to Canada near the end of 2009 and says the community has grown four times its size in the past five or six years.
Structurally the new mosque faces Mecca, the direction people face for prayers. Some features that are connected to traditional practices are now included for symbolic reasons, such as the minaret. “In the olden days, someone would go up on the tower and do the call for prayer, so people in the neighbourhood would know its time for prayer and would come to the mosque,” said Rashid. In the past, domes and other features were designed to amplify sound. The mosque has domes as an architectural feature, but will rely on a high-tech sound system to amplify sound.
“One of the teachings in Islam is not to waste any resources and also wherever natural resources can be preserved,” said Rashid. “We have incorporated those teachings in this building.” There’s in floor heating (and some fan forced), a grey water system, ICS construction of walls and provision for solar energy, to be installed in the near future.
There will also be a studio in the mosque in the office area, which offers 24-hour Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA), a satellite station of the community worldwide.
There are some amazing stories of sacrificial giving to this project, like a few people selling their vehicle and handing over the proceeds, a widow who gave over $100,000, a couple who gave $40,000 in savings for a new house, Rashid said.
A Muslim’s life revolves around the mosque. “We have five services a day – five daily prayers – and one a week, on Friday we have afternoon prayers. We have a lot of people who attend that.”
Rashid said community members, especially those who came out of persecution and discrimination in Pakistan, are “very, very pleased to be here. They feel safe to raise a family.”
Easily accessible with its location at the intersection of Boychuk Drive and Highway 16, the new mosque will be called Baitul Rahmat, meaning House of Blessing. As a gathering place and nucleus for the community, it provides another layer of settledness here in Canada.