Day 1 – White Rock Muslim Community Centre – 15531 24th Avenue – Unit 24 – White Rock City / South Surrey – British Columbia

There are a number of Masjids and Islamic Centres within Metro Vancouver that I was unable to visit during Ramadan 2017.

The Musallah in White Rock, British Columbia is one of them.

15531 24th Avenue – Unit 24 – White Rock City / South Surrey – British Columbia.

The White Rock Muslim Association is a small store front style commercial address sitting near the north end of a long building which is really an industrial park.

White Rock City shares borders with the United States.

Washington State is walking distance from this musallah, via the Peace Arch border crossing.

Geographically, this might be the farthest Islamic Centre from my Downtown East Side home address in Vancouver, but it was rather easy to reach via TransLink.

A quick train ride on the Canada Line to Bridgeport station, then one bus and short walk was all it took to get here. An hour plus change, tops.

I found the Islamic Centre’s door open, and nobody on the main floor. Yet a whole lot of noise from the second floor.

A word to describe this prayer room?

Cosy.

All the essentials are present.

The Qibla, the direction facing Makkah, was obvious by the tilt of the carpet layout.

The top corner of the room, doubled as the Mihrab, the prayer niche where the Imam would stand to lead the prayer.

The mimbar was a simple chair beside the Prayer Mat.

Wireless mic for the Imam on the floor, with speakers hanging at an opposite corner.

The prayer timetables seemed incomplete. Only Fajr was listed on the electronic schedule. A white board listed only Fajr and Maghrib and Taraweeh beginning at 11:15 p.m.

A poster listing Tarawih Rules stood out and could not be missed by anyone sitting anywhere in this main prayer hall.

The banging and staple-gunning and loud conversation finally demanded I walk upstairs and satisfy my curiosity.

Carpet Installers Ahmet and Muhammad had spent the entire day redoing the carpet for the Sisters’ prayer area.

Furniture and appliances had to be moved around.

Carpets needed to be custom cut and fit into the nooks and crannies of this floor space.

Now I knew.

It was a total mess for the moment, but they were rushing to finish in time for tonight’s Taraweeh Prayers.

This second floor office space had an impressive collection of Islamic Literature.

I say “Impressive” because when thinking of the many small distant Prayer Spaces I have visited during past Ramadans, I learned many small Islamic Centres hardly have any collection of books beyond copies of the Qur’an in Arabic and perhaps an English interpretation or two.

Back downstairs, I am staring at the sweets. AND The Medjool dates. AND The water.

Though this Thursday is only my First Fast of Ramadan 2018, I have already been feeling it. I’ve caught myself mouthing, if not saying out loud to myself, “I’m hungry.”

I had timed my arrival to White Rock using TransLink, so I could make the 7:30 p.m. listed late afternoon / early evening Asr Prayer Time.

Yet, it didn’t exactly matter.

Other than Ahmet and Muhammad, no one other than myself were here for Asr.

So we three prayed Asr.

A work break for the Carpet Installers.

A Fard, mandatory, daily prayer goal met for myself.

The hour and minutes between Asr, and Maghrib, somehow felt almost non-existent. Perhaps I dozed off while sitting on the carpet without realizing it? Even with all the loud banging?

The two Muslims came downstairs again at about 8:50 p.m.

Different Ramadan 2018 Schedules laying around this prayer room listed different Sunset times, but all within a few minutes of each other.

We waited a few extra minutes just in case. I looked outside, it looked like the colour of the sky after the sun has set, but we still waited a minute or two more.

As we were waiting, Brother Muhammad brought out an ice cold 2 Litre bottle of Cranberry Juice. Oh man…. Is it Iftar time… YET!!?!

Suddenly a tall bearded brother shows up for Maghrib.

Yep, the Sun has surely set by now.

I perform Adhan Al Maghrib, The Call to Prayer immediately after Sunset.

Brother Aqeel leads our prayer.

Afterwards, all four of us make quick work of the Medjool dates and that bottle of Cranberry Juice.

I got to tell you, that juice seemed to be the best I ever had. Those Medjools, them too. Tasted the best I can ever recall having.

That is the Fasting talking.

Believers understand that almost whatever they use to break their fast after a long day, may indeed feel like this. My head knows this, but I didn’t care. I had several cups of this cranberry juice, and lost count of the dates devoured.

Brother Aqeel turns out to be originally from Brampton. He mentions a masjid or two that I am familiar with, and have visited previously. Felt nice to have a Toronto 30Masjids Conversation unexpectedly here, tonight.

He previously lived in Squamish, where the Winter Olympics were held. At that time some years back, there were only four Muslim families there, and they took turns hosting Islamic Events in each others’ homes. Aqeel feels there may not even be a single Muslim family remaining in Squamish, despite all the residential development there recently.

He half expected no one to be here for Maghrib inside the White Rock Musallah. He simply wanted to pray Maghrib Sunset prayers in Congregation and this was his closest option.

He was surprised we three were here.

I learn that White Rock is residential community, with area Muslims working either in Surrey just north of here, or all the way in Downtown Vancouver.

Effectively, the action here is on Fridays and on the Weekend.

Fridays during Ramadan will host a special Halaqa, Islamic Study Circle, before Iftar time around 9 p.m.

The Friday night Iftars are Pot-Luck.

Well, tonight’s accidental pot-luck Iftar was good enough for me. Medjool dates and Cranberry Juice.

I ask Aqeel only a few more questions, he’s being generous with his time, yet both of us need to have a proper Iftar Dinner after almost 18 hours of Fasting. The sooner, the better!

He confirms that not many people even know that White Rock City has this Prayer Space. And even if they did, if they didn’t have the door code, and then popped by to pray during the daytime, they’d find a locked door.

He mentions a couple of new small rented prayer spaces that are now open.

My low blood sugar perhaps made me neglect to jot those addresses down.

Word of Mouth about new Masjids and Prayer Space is my stock-in-trade doing 30Masjids in 30 Days.

Oops!

The Lebanese Falafel place in the next set of buildings turned out to close at 9 p.m.

No Crispy Falafel for me…

I wound up at the A&W down the street.

Was it exactly Halal? The two chicken burgers and teen burger I devoured? Well… it was at least hormone free.

So don’t judge.

AND, they saved me a trip hunting down Tim Horton’s as A&W serves Coffee!

And it was Van Houtte coffee, not the brown caffeinated water some fast food joints serve as an afterthought.

Tasty Coffee.

All the while I was having my Iftar Dinner, the two brothers remained at the Musallah, rushing to finish installing the new carpet in time for the Sisters who would shortly be arriving for tonight’s Isha and Taraweeh Prayers.

Walking back into the industrial park’s parking lot, Brother Muhammad drives by with a smile. He’s off to fill-up his van at the gas station immediately opposite. He’s smiling.

I can only assume they got to good enough with the carpet installing.

In the thirty minutes or so sitting inside the main prayer hall, the trickle of a few brothers would eventually grow to about 40 by my count. With any number of Sisters now upstairs.

Adhan Al Isha, The Call to Night Prayer.

Isha in White Rock is prayed at 11:15 p.m.

This is a later start than the Masjids in Vancouver. Perhaps it is because this is a Neighbourhood Masjid, whereas the Vancouver locations have congregants who need to catch the last skytrain home?

That turned out to be true for me this evening.

Will I pray 8 Rakats, units, or 20 Rakats of Taraweeh tonight?

That question remained on my mind as each pair of Rakats were completed.

The Taraweeh was lead by younger Hufaaz, ones who had memorized the entire Arabic Qur’an.

Some of the points on that Tarawih Rules poster made more sense that at first look.

The young Taraweeh leader was making small mistakes, slight mis-pronounciations. His fellow Hafiz, would lightly correct him, and the recitation continued.

No Big Deal.

We all have to start somewhere. Why would reciting Qur’an leading Taraweeh Prayers be any different than so many other things in life.

The Taraweeh Rakats are being retired quickly.

Do I stay for the Full 20?

Should I have only stayed for 2 or 4 Rakats?

After 8 Rakats, the usual exodus. Many of the brothers quietly bolt for their shoes and then the door.

Sisters are walking down the stairs, and everybody gives them right of way.

It is 11:40 p.m.

I think the 351 Bus will be at the stop at 12:03, but maybe I’m getting the bus routes and timings confused. I didn’t jot it down in my notebook tonight. Aw well.


I expected breaking my fast tonight, a Thursday, inside the White Rock Muslim Community Centre, may be a smaller affair than a Weekend Iftar, or as I learned, the Friday Pot-luck Iftar.

Nevertheless I needed to get into the Groove of doing 30Masjids again this year.

White Rock checked enough boxes for me to choose to break my fast and blog my first Day of Ramadan 2018 here:

  • White Rock was far away enough from Downtown Vancouver;
  • It was one of a handful of fixed Metro Vancouver Prayer Spaces missed last year;
  • And I had never been here before.

The 351 Bus arrived at 12:23 a.m.

I caught the final northbound Canada Line Train from Bridgeport Station at 1:03 a.m.

I was home by 1:40 a.m.

Fajr would be at 3:25 a.m.

So that was my Day 1 of Ramadan 2018.

For Day 2, My intention is to perform Jumah on Vancouver Island at the Nanaimo Masjid.

Somewhere I’ve never been before.

Yet, now I’m curious about these Friday Night Pot-Lucks in White Rock.

And how does the Carpet now look in the Sister’s area?

Perhaps I’ll make a return trip here before the month is out.

 

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