First things first, we need to cross the Border.
To do that, I walk across the Portage Bridge from downtown Ottawa. A few minutes later all the signs are in French.
Yep, 30Masjids has reached Quebec! Alhumdulillah.
As I am walking towards Aylmer, I spot La Palmeraie, a Halal Meat & Grocery store. It’s evening-time in Ramadan, understandably this Halal butcher shop is closed.
However having a Halal Meat store suggests to me there are plenty of local Muslims to support such a business. I take it as a good sign.
Speaking of signs… here’s one on the way into Aylmer.
We’re three weeks into Ramadan. I ain’t walking as fast as did at the start of the month. I budgeted just enough time to make it to Iftar at The Mosque in Aylmer on foot, but I find myself behind.
Shortly, McDonald’s appears like an oasis. It’s suddenly Coffee and Muffin for a quickie Iftar.
I reach the masjid with time to spare before Isha, but only just.
There are no dedicated wudu facilities, so I’m in line awaiting use of either of the two washrooms.
I introduce myself to the Imam, and autopilot into my 30Masjids intro mode. He has more I Don’t Knows than Knows.
He politely informs me he is only visiting The Mosque in Aylmer tonight. He leads the faithful at another Masjid. I wonder why he’s here, but I can wait for the answer to reveal itself.
During the middle of Taraweeh prayers, Imam Dr. Zijad Delic, the Imam of the South Nepean Muslim Community, makes his fundraising pitch.
It’s low key and lasts no longer than a few moments, really.
Being used to what I call Laylatul Fundraising at Bigger Masjids around The Greater Toronto Area, sometimes it feels like the faithful are held hostage until the night’s Fundraising Targets are met and then, and only then, will the night’s scheduled Isha or Taraweeh prayers begin.
Nothing like that tonight in Aylmer.
You could almost blink, and you would have missed Imam Delic’s pitch.
I learn that when people behind The Mosque in Aylmer were doing Fundraising Rounds, going from Masjid to Masjid in the Ottawa area, SNMC was among the first and steadfast to step up and financially help see the building we were sitting in right now, become a reality.
Tonight was an opportunity for people here to return the funding favour as SNMC was now the one asking for Financial Contributions to help build their Masjid and Community Centre in South Nepean.
Sitting at a distance in the main Prayer Hall, to me it appeared as a successful visit. Alhumdulillah.
The Qibla, the direction towards Makkah, is on an angle within this part of the building.
The Mihrab, the Iman’s prayer niche, is smart. It makes use of the oddball shaped north-east corner in this room. Simple, yet elegant. The Mihrab here does the job well.
It’s a couple hours until Tahajjud prayers begin. Numerous people are present reading Qur’an or in quiet prayer or contemplation.
The sisters have the run of the entire second floor tonight, allowing entire Families to effectively attend the Masjid’s Ramadan services together.
The children keep running around with enough nooks and crannies in the floor plan so as not to disturb Qur’an readers… well, not being toooo much of a disturbance.
We pray the eight rakats of Tahajjud and then it’s time for Suhoor.
Milk and dates are out first. A few minutes later, a sister brings a few plates of finger vegetables and cubes of cheese to add to the Suhoor mix. I savour the fresh cucumber slices.
I privately marvel at the cheese.
I had considered getting a slab of Quebec cheese as part of my Iftar in a small grocery store last night. And now, here were tasty cheese cubes in front of me. Moments like that have happened to me throughout 30Masjids Ontario, but I haven’t blogged about most of them. Maybe I should at this point, it being the last 10 Days of Ramadan and all…
During Ramadan, There is No Coincidence, Only Providence.
The Mosque in Aylmer is full for Fajr. As it should be during Ramadan. Afterwards the Imam shares a few Islamic Reminders in Arabic.
Time to go.
There are at least 300 Muslim Families in the Aylmer area that would count this as their home Masjid.
This is the third dedicated prayer location in this Quebec Muslim Community’s history.
Located at 21 Park Street, pretty much in the Centre of the Aylmer’s downtown makes it easy to reach via the Buses or driving. But, as often is the case, parking appeared challenging on a busy Masjid night like tonight.
The Mosque in Aylmer is open for all five daily prayers, Jumah on Friday, Both Eid prayers, and hosts numerous religious gathering throughout the year.
The sister’s area on the main floor looked spacious to my guy’s eye, but only a sister could speak on that conclusively. Tonight Sisters had use of the entire second floor, hence there is flexibility in figuring out who prays where.
If you find yourself on this side of the Ottawa River, on the west side of Gatineau, and need a place to pray, InshAllah you find your way to The Mosque in Aylmer.
For now, it’s the only one.