CAIRO - Fulfilling a years-old dream, the Muslim minority in the Canadian city of Charlottetown has celebrated the opening of their first Islamic center, capping years of community cooperation to turn the project into a reality.
We would like to thank the many Muslims and non-Muslims from coast to coast, and those outside of Canada, who helped us realize this mosque, Najam Chishti, president of the Muslim Society at Prince Edward Island (PEI), told the local Canadian newspaper The Guardian.
Muslims in Charlottetown in Prince Edward Island opened the Islamic center Masjid Dar As-Salam on Saturday evening.
The center has been a far-fetched dream for the Muslim community since 1990 to fulfil their religious needs.
Adding to the difficulty was the daunting task of raising the funds needed to build the Islamic center.
Dr. Suleiman Sefau, the president of the fundraising committee, managed to raise the much-needed funds through sending hundreds of letters, making phone calls, fundraising dinners, food drives, silent auctions and coin collections.
On behalf of the society and the community, I would like to thank Dr Sefau (chairman of the fundraising committee) and his committee for a job well done, Chishti added.
Seeing their dream of having an Islamic center coming true has left many Charlottetown jubilant.
In addition to meeting the immediate needs of the community, such as the daily five prayers, Friday prayer, Sunday school, and Halaq, the reading of Qur'an and its teaching for both men and women, This building will also serve as an Islamic centre where we can welcome non-Muslims in a friendly environment that will help promote inter-faith dialogue, peace, and understanding, Chishti said.
Muslim leaders hope the new center will help promote bonds among community members, offering Muslim children and women a chance to socialize.
There's a lot here for children and for women with small children, they can socialize too and there will be Islamic studies and Sunday school for children, Farida Chishti said.
We no longer have to rent a hall or place, we can have all of our events here.
The new Islamic center also won praise from Mayor Clifford Lee, who said that Charlottetown and the Island can certainly recognize the importance of Muslim immigrants.
He said the Islamic center is a perfect example of a facility where members of the community can come together.
I wish much happiness here in your facility and this place of worship and because of what you people bring to the community, he said in front of a crowd of about 60 people downstairs in the mosque.
Thanks for the invitation and congratulations.
The mayor also praised the Island Muslims for actively participating in various local initiatives like fundraising for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, donating to the food bank, and fundraising for the Canadian Red Cross.
In the end we hope this building will also be a place for dialogue and discussion and to have Island Muslims be actively engaged in the community we share, he said.
Muslims make around 2.8 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the north-American country.
A recent report from the Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life said that Muslims are expected to make up 6.6% of Canada's total population in 2030.A recent survey showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian, and that they are more educated than the general population.