328 Parliament Street, a few doors and one laneway north of Dundas Street East in Regent Park.
This is where I tried to break fast on Day 1, yet it took until tonight to do so…
My ego is having a hard time struggling with the fact that for months, I have been getting the name of this Masjid wrong! A subtle typo for me yet important difference in Arabic Language.
It’s Masjidur Rahmah–not Rahman.
Rahmah means “Love, Compassion and Mercy.”
ar-Rahman means “The Beneficent, The Most Merciful in Essence, The Compassionate, The Most Gracious”. It is among the most special of the 99 Names of God-Alone known in the Qur’an.
And it wasn’t a typo.
It was me being lazy and assuming I knew the proper name of this masjid when it was staring right at me and I didn’t bother to read the final letter correctly.
This is where pre-Ramadan HiMY would type My Bad, and where Ramadan HiMY types My Bah!
I have been inside this masjid a few times, yet first time being on the second floor. It still needs some work as does the basement. Consequently their fundraising campaign is ongoing.
Only a few minutes remain before Adhan Al-Maghrib, the Sunset Call to Prayer, and time to break fast, yet many spots in front of almost every carefully spaced out Iftar plate remains empty. The evening sky has been hinting at a coming rainstorm. That’s likely part of the reason.
Suddenly in the span of a few minutes, just before Sunset, the second floor fills up with about-to-be-Fast-Breakers. People keep popping up the stairs.
Volunteers direct each new arrival from downstairs pointing to a spot in front of a plate. They’ve done this before. There is hardly any bunching up or crowding at the compact landing.
This is the only Masjid serving Regent Park which is owned. The others are all in rented or leased facilities, or like yesterday’s 30Masjids location, in a redefined apartment building basement.
That may change with Omar Bin Khattab Mosque looking to purchase a proper building one block south, and it will change with Masjid Toronto‘s new satellite storefront Masjid across from St. James Park opening after Ramadan.
As for the Iftar plate? What can I say. The volunteers put in a lot of work in providing a colourful mix of Bengali and ultra Bengali tasty food. And this wasn’t even the Iftar Dinner!
The main prayer hall is not quite half full for Maghrib Prayer. It is raining outside. Heavily at times from the echoes of splashing coming from the main door behind us.
Afterwards, it’s back upstairs for the full Iftar Dinner plate. People leave as quick as they arrived.
Somehow I am blessed with a second/third plate and take my time with it.
Downstairs I will find the prayer hall all to myself.
Earlier in the month, this part of the city experienced a power outage.
Whenever that happens in Toronto, it’s twitter trending topic time for the hashtage #darkTO:
Unique experience praying by candlelight.
Instantly when the candle was lit, Ayat an-Nur occupied my consciousness,
Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.
The parable of His Light is a niche wherein is a lamp—
the lamp is in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star—
lit from a blessed olive tree,
neither eastern nor western,
whose oil almost lights up,
though fire should not touch it.
Light upon light.
Allah guides to His Light whomever He wishes.
Allah draws parables for mankind,
and Allah has knowledge of all things.
Qur’an, Surah 24:35 Al Nur (The Light)
If you ever find yourself in the dark and it’s time to pray, light a candle.
Here is the Mihrab and Mimbar with lights turned on.
Sitting inside the masjid listening to the rain outside, I am getting sleepy, very very sleepy inside… echo of raindrops has become hypnotic.
Fortunately the Regent Park Tim Horton’s Coffee shop is literally across the street in the rain.
I get wet, but it’s worth it to be caffeinated enough to complete the full 20 rakats of Taraweeh while awake, unlike the other night at Masjid Al-Qalam where I could hardly complete eight.
Umbrella? Oh Right. I don’t have one. As I watch Muslims with brollys stay dry walking down the laneway to the main entrance of the Masjid.
Unlike Maghrib Salat, it sardine time during Isha and the first eight rakats of Taraweeh. Packed!
In-between Isha and Taraweeh, the requisite fundraising sales pitch begins. Wonder how long this will go.
A youth is entrusted with the microphone. He stands in front of us all and simply says,
…since we are fasting and skipping lunch, we aren’t spending that buck on two on coffee during lunch we normally do. Why not give that one dollar to the masjid? You might think it’s little, but it’s actually a lot.
Best. Ramadan. Captive. Taraweeh. Prayer. Fundraising. Pitch. Ever !
All of 30 seconds, he then sits down.
Make that Evah !
Masjidur Rahmah is important.
Regent Park is currently going through a social transformation and physical revitalization.
Its people, TCHC Social Housing tenants, are being displaced throughout the city until their promised new apartments are built and they can return.
Decades old apartment buildings are being torn down. Condo Towers or Townhomes go up in their stead.
Unlike the decades-old low-rise apartment buildings where just yesterday I finally saw firsthand how the basements were allowed to be re-made into masjids, it is dubious any of the new Condo Towers will allow that. The ones already up do not.
Gentrification is happening in realtime. Tim Horton’s across the street is among the first.
Masjidur Rahmah will remain an anchor for this local Muslim community in flux.