For Shamoon Rashid, that means spreading awareness of what the mosque and the Ahmadiyya Muslim community have to offer.
“A mosque is a place of worship for anyone who worships one God,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know that they are welcome to come.”
Rashid, the president of the north chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in Saskatoon, said the mosque will be a “unique structure” for Saskatoon and the province once it’s completed.
“It’s going to be the centre for the community here in Saskatoon,” Rashid said. “We’ve got classrooms, we’ve got a multi-purpose hall where people can play and also have banquet events, then you’ve got the prayer hall; this would basically be the nucleus for the community.”
Rashid said while the new mosque will be a major centre for the Muslim community, he hopes it would also be an important part of the community at large.
The first floor of the main building is divided into two almost mirror-image halves: one for the men and one for the women, each with a separate entrance. Immediately next to the entrance is a small room with special washing fixtures for ablution — the cleansing of parts of the body before prayer.
Situated in the heart of the building on the first floor is an empty room lined with grey shelves, which Rashid said will house a library of religious books.
“This would be something that we would advertise to the general public,” he said of the library, adding that it will be “one of the first public Islam libraries” open to the community.
On the second floor of the main building are the offices and classrooms, as well as a small studio room for the mosque to contribute to the 24-hour satellite television service Muslim Television Ahmadiyya.
To the right of the men’s entrance is the prayer hall, a huge open room with an alcove called the mihrab at one end for the imam to speak from.
Rashid said the prayer hall is built to hold 900 people, and the multi-purpose hall on the other side of the main building could hold another 1,100 as an “overflow” area. He noted the primary use of the multi-purpose hall, which is built like a large gymnasium, will be for community events and youth sports.
Rashid said connecting with the local non-Muslim community is an important goal.
“We plan to have open houses, groups that we invite here. We’ll be giving tours to the community, other religious communities, and have that awareness so people feel more comfortable coming here,” he said.
The current plan is for the mosque to open during the summer once final landscaping and construction is finished. The $10 million in costs for the project came entirely from the Ahmadiyya community in Canada, Rashid said.
Courtesy: Zahid Cheema, Saskatoon