Day 1 – MAC Islamic Centre – Muslim Association of Canada – 2122 Kingsway – Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territory, British Columbia

The first full day of fasting of Ramadan 2017 finds me deciding to break fast at MAC Islamic Centre.

MAC is located at 2122 Kingsway in East Vancouver.

Muslim Association of Canada has a presence in numerous provinces. MAC operates my “home” masjid in Downtown Toronto, Masjid Toronto, where I spent the most time in recent years.

In Vancouver, they have this three storey building.

Entering through the front entrance, used by both men and women, one is greeted by numerous posters and flyers and photographs along the walls.

Not every Masjid or Islamic Centre around Metro Vancouver is providing daily Iftar Dinners.

MAC is only doing Iftars Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays. Tonight is their first Saturday Iftar and partly the reason why I chose here to break my fast.

The other reason is that MAC is close enough for me to reach on foot from my home, though today I wimped out and took a couple of buses to get here.

The large hall on the second floor was in use by sisters for their “Sisters United” weekly programming. I found my way to the third floor Library/Prayer Space.

A small group of Arabic speaking brothers were having a Ramadan Study Circle. Though I only understood a Qur’anic word here and there, I sat and listened.

The wall of books in this room is the largest collection of Islamic literature I have yet seen in Metro Vancouver. Prayer Spaces can be expected to have Qur’ans and books of Hadith, the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace). These bookshelves have that and much more.

I had meant to look closer at the books, but once the study circle concluded and the brothers left, I crashed. Hadn’t realized how much in need of a nap I was until I woke up some time later.

Another poster.

This one confirms MAC will provide daily Iftar Dinners for the last ten days of Ramadan 2017.

I’ll likely make it back for one of those nights.

 

This strong-cardstock photo of The Holy Kaaba in Makkah, is the same one my family had in Toronto.

In the 1970s, getting any sort of Islamic souvenir was a big deal. There weren’t any well stocked Islamic Bookstores in Ontario. If we were lucky, someone travelling from a Muslim country may bring back gifts like this one.

It’s enough for me to see this on display, on the window sill on the second floor of MAC, to immediately bring back memories of my childhood.

Our family always had this card-stock photograph of Makkah hanging prominently in whichever home we had moved to.

I wonder if this image has a similar meaning for Muslim Families here in Metro Vancouver since the 1970s?

“Sisters United” has wrapped up and it’s time to prepare for the Iftar.

It’s early enough that there still aren’t many people here.

This large space is a functioning banquet hall with kitchen and stage.

 

Unroll some carpets, and instant Muslim Prayer Hall.

Add a large blue tarp, plastic picnic sheets, it becomes all set for Iftar.

Dr. Ashraf, who I often meet at Ajyal Islamic Centre, is here. He later tells me he likes the atmosphere at MAC. It’s easy going.

This large hall remains mostly empty until a few very short minutes before Sunset.

Suddenly dozens of people arrive almost all at once. They each find their way onto the blue tarp and sit by a plate of dates.

Adhan Al-Maghrib. The Call to Sunset Prayer.

Time to break the First Fast of Ramadan 2017…

Sticky-dates and Half Slices of Samosa to accompany our prayer of thanks.

Regular readers of 30Masjids may notice this photograph is of a bitten date. I usually photograph the date before breaking fast with it… not tonight.

I was so eager to break my fast I bit into the date before thinking to snap a picture. Haha. I guess I really was hungry.

There’s an issue with the sound system. Something that happens throughout the evening.

The Call to Sunset Prayer Continues. About 100 muslim men and women continue making breaking their fast with Dates and Samosas.

Oh what’s this?

This was soup. It was fantastic!

Felt homemade with a thick broth, chunks of broccoli, firm kernels of corn and strands of chicken.

In Turkish Iftars, Soup is a standard part of breaking of the fast. It’s often a very good hearty soup.

Likewise tonight.

A nice surprise.

But dang, I wanted more soup. A lot more! There weren’t seconds. I was grateful for the first.

Brother besides me offers a bottle of water…

…for some reason the presence of so many plastic bottles of water I no longer am comfortable with.

This is my 7th Ramadan doing 30Masjids, and the culture we have accepted in Canada of wasting bottles of water, instead of using plain tap water, at Iftars and Taraweeh has come to bother me.

Lining up to offer the Sunset Prayer, Maghrib.

We’re done praying Maghrib about 15-20 minutes after Sunset. Some Masjids are hardline on prayer start times.

Not MAC.

Like Dr. Ashraf says, it’s easy going atmosphere here. No pressure. No rush.

I sit against the east wall and take it easy. The volunteers are bringing out trays of Iftar Dinners. The Sisters are served first.

Apparently most of the brothers know it will take time for dinner to be distrubted by the volunteers…

Many lounge around and talk or rest.

…There’s no hurry to sit down on the blue tarp.

And, it was worth the wait.

Rice. Salad, dressed. Meat that melted in your mouth. Tasty enough.

President’s Choice orange pop. The bubbles seamed overly ambitious to reach the surface tonight.

Usually, it’s after Iftar Dinner is served and our bellies are full that I strike up a conversation or two. Tonight, I am still beat. Don’t have conversation in me.

There might have been 120 people gathered to break this first fast. I expected more people. But it is the first night. Many no doubt were breaking fast with family and friends in homes all over Metro Vancouver.

 

Cleaning The Tarp

This was something I don’t know I have seen before…

The brother was sweeping  the blue tarp with a wide broom, cleaning up after Iftar.

I have seen Iftar served atop Blue Tarps, and I have then seen volunteers fold up the tarp, take it outside, unfold it, begin waving it, and clean it that way. Like dusting a carpet outside.

This was… different. Makes sense. Why would you not simply sweep the tarp?

There.

Done.

Like a giant exercise in team origami, the blue tarp is folded, and folded again, and folded again.

 

 

 

 

 

Within a few minutes. The Tarp, folded, is removed.

The giant carpet space can return to its primay use… a play area for children!

The greatest toy for any child is always… another child.

Player space. Prayer space. Tomato. Potato.

It’s almost Isha Prayer Time.

As suddenly as the people who arrived earlier moments before Iftar, dozens of people enter the prayer hall’s doors in time for the Night Prayer, Isha.

 

 

Adhan Al Isha. The Call to Night Prayer.

Taraweeh at MAC Islamic Centre is 8 Rakats (units) of prayer.

The Taraweeh Prayer leader is a Qari (Trained Reciter of the Qur’an) from Karachi, Pakistan. His pronounciation is clear and melodic.

In places where Taraweeh is observed, the choice is to pray 8 or 20 Rakats.

Where 20 are officially prayed, many people leave after having completed 8 rakats.

I observed a number of people tonight leaving after praying only 4 rakats. This is a personal choice. It’s understandable with how late Taraweeh is this lunar year.

Witr began at 12:30 a.m.

For me Witr would feel like 20 minutes. It was actually seven minutes. I was almost falling asleep standing up but the peer  pressure of standing in a line with fellow worshippers, kept me from stepping away.

This is one of the benefits of joining a congregational prayer. You don’t slack off.

Everything ended about 12:37 a.m.

It’s late. I’m tired. I begin walking out the prayer hall. Up on the wall beside the exit, another poster.

This one is MAC’s Ramadan Calendar 2017/1438.

One day of Fasting down. 28 (or 29) to go.

 

 

 

 


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