CANADA | Day 20 – Lloydminster Islamic Centre – 4610 49 Avenue – Lloydminster, Saskatchewan

00 - Lloydminster Islamic Centre - Saskatchewan - Saturday June 25 2016

Lloydminister Islamic Centre is literally a block and a half from the Alberta border.

You’ll easily find it at 4610 49 Avenue in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan :

“From HWY 16 go one block north on 49 Ave and it is located on the left. Lloydminster Islamic Centre is on the South of Post Office”

The Masjid is on a block that has as its neighbours: the town’s four-plex cinema, the Post Office on one side, the Native Friendship Centre as their other next door neighbour, and the Regional Municipal town hall a block away.

The building’s architectural design would stand out were it located in Toronto or even Vancouver.

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The Prayer Halls, for both Men and Women, are what you would expect. Everything familiar in a Masjid is there…

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The Mihrab, the Prayer Niche, pointing towards the Qiblah, the direction of prayer facing Makkah in a North-East direction.

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The official Prayer Times notice board is outlined in the shape of a dome.

This subtle nod to Islamic Architectural Heritage visually balances what the worshipper is looking at while inside the main prayer hall.

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Upon exiting the main prayer hall, one will walk under the Kalimah.

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The Declaration of Faith that There is No God, Except God-Alone, and Muhammad (upon whom be peace) is His Prophet, is precision carved Calligraphy into the wood above the doorway.

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The simple use of wood paneling combined with precision carving of Islamic Design Motifs of Dome and Minaret throughout the Masjid introduces an overall Islamic Feeling wherever one is sitting, comtemplating, or in prayer.

Prayer.

Oh right. I still need to perform my Dhuhr and Asr prayers in time for Iftar….

 

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The Greyhound Bus into town had a delayed departure time in Saskatoon.

Bus drivers are mandated by law to have a set amount of rest time inbetween working shifts.

Our bus driver legally wasn’t allowed to start his scheduled run to Lloydminster and points west, without taking one such rest in Saskatoon. He’d been driving earlier all day and was himself delayed.

It’s for everyone’s safety, and who can find fault with that?

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So my Greyhound into Lloydminister was delayed.

I still arrived and found my way to the Lloydminister Masjid. It’s a short 12 minute walk from the bus depot.

But that also meant, I arrived when preparations for tonight’s Iftar were being made.

A newer Muslim, Brother Rod, was rushing to set up this multi-purpose room as the Brother’s Iftar area.

He’s a single dad of two young daughters. He engages me in Iftar related conversation while balancing parenting duties of his two girls as they sit reading books at a large table.

Rod suggests I sit with his two monsters while he’s still tidying up.

I learn our new Muslim Brother is First Nations.

Rod is now the second Muslim who is First Nations that I meet, after meeting Brother Mikaeel after Fajr in Regina.

Brother Rod was born a few blocks away from where we are right now, and grew up in Lloydminister. He studied different points of view within Christianity and learned what he could about Judaism.

About a year ago, Rod decided Mainstream Islam complemented what he already had within his First Nations’ Spirituality.

He embraced Islam.

But in doing so, he makes a point that there are so many Different Islams being presented as The True Islam, that learning what actually is Islam’s Straight Path remains his constant challenge.

More so being in a small town with but a hand full of Muslims for counsel and one masjid for contemplation.

Even more so being a Single Father of two young Muslim girls.

He laments how he wishes how he could properly teach his daughters how to correctly put on a Hijab. Mastering this parental rite of passage has thus far eluded him

A short while later, as Sisters arrive for Iftar, his girls follow them, running upstairs holding their little headscarves. Moments later they return, both properly Hijabed and proudly showing off to their dad.

They like wearing it.

Brother Rod tells me he chose “Omar Issa” as his Muslim name, though he is not ready to use his new name. He doesn’t feel ready, doesn’t feel knowledgeable enough about Islam to answer all the inevitable questions from regular people as he goes about his day.

Rod’s situation has made an impression on me.

Yes, many Muslims and Masjids and Muslim organizations celebrate whenever People embrace Islam and become a New Muslim.

Then… a kind of Buyer’s Remorse may become reality for the New Muslim, as they find very little, if any, after sales support, if you will allow me this analogy.

It’s still rare in most of North America to find New Muslim classes, or a regularly scheduled Q&A, which is really to say a safe space for New Muslims to learn Islam’s etiquettes without judgement from about where they are coming from.

Without such programs, Dawah, the Invitation to Islam, remain incomplete on the part of those doing Dawah.

I recognize what Brother Rod is expressing to me.

What surprised me, was that I never considered a lack of Programs for New Muslims who have Children they are also bringing along with them into the faith.

It might sound straightforward to think it’s okay to just have them attend Weekend Islamic School, but I’m not sure that alone is enough.

It’s incumbent on we older Muslims to ensure Newer Muslims, and their now New Muslims children, do not end up with Buyer’s Remorse.

And so my fellow North American Muslims, Please pick up this ball and run with it.

07 - Lloydminster Islamic Centre - Saskatchewan - Saturday June 25 2016

I expected to be recognized as a Stranger

Nope.

As Brother Rod just accepted me somehow as a Regular, so did everyone else.

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Somehow, I just fit in and everyone interacted with me as if I was a Local.

Hmmm… now I’m the one feeling strange.

I haven’t yet properly introduced myself to anyone nor explained 30Masjids.

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The Spread almost instantaneously appeared, as brothers and sisters arriving at the Masjid brought food for tonight’s Iftar, potluck style.

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Plates are prepared. A friendly competition of encouragement for people to choose items from their potluck contributions takes hold.

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Some dates are pitted and replaced with a filling. Only for the second time that I can ever recall, and that first time was back in Ste. Foy / Quebec City, do I see dates prepared this way. I add two to my plate, wondering what the filling will be.

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Adhan Al Maghrib. The Sunset Call to Prayer. Time to break fast.

13 - Lloydminster Islamic Centre - Saskatchewan - Saturday June 25 2016

First, a regular date to break my fast, which is getting longer and longer, the higher into Canada’s North that I travel.

The filling in those two pitted dates, is familiar, yet it takes me a while to place the taste.

A-Ha!

Pistachio.

These dates are filled with Pistachio Halva. That’s a new one. Nice. Tasty.

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Praying Maghrib, The Sunset Prayer, is not rushed.

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People take their time in finishing their Iftar plates. They, we, have after all, been fasting for 18 hours plus.

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Sunset Prayer is one full line and a half.

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A likewise number of Sisters are praying upstairs, and also downstairs behind us in a partially partitioned alcove off the Main Prayer Hall.

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Coffee. Turkish. Strong.

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Okay. NOW, with Iftar done, Prayers performed, Coffee poured, I can properly introduce myself…

Nope.

About a dozen brothers now sit in a circle of chairs, discussing when Eid will be, and where Eid-Al-Fitr Prayers should be held.

Dr. Ali, who earlier called Adhan Al-Maghrib confirms it’s either Tuesday or Wednesday with a theoretical possibility of Monday July 4 2016.

Apparently this congregation has chosen visual moonsighting to determine the end of Ramadan.

This Shura meeting with board members and the rest of us also decides to put any surplus funds raised towards finishing the basement washrooms, which remains a work in progress.

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The brothers’ wudu facilities nevertheless are functional.

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All to quickly, Call to Night Prayer, Adhan Al Isha, is made.

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Isha Prayer is lead by a Hafiz who will be leading eight rakats of Taraweeh.

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After four Rakat…

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Previously, Muslims in Lloydminster prayed in the basement of this house owned by a doctor who made it available for Friday Jumah Prayers.

32 - Lloydminster Islamic Centre - Former Masjid Location - Musalah in Basement - Saskatchewan - Sunday June 26 2016


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