Day 1 – Masjid . . .Toronto?

It is very late. Asr time is quickly evaporating. I will not be able to make Iftar at the original Masjid I planned upon.

I bike over to Omar Bin Khattab Masjid. Pray Asr.

Volunteers are active in beginning preparations for the first of Ramadan. One can feel the frenetic energy within the primary prayer hall. Part of me wants to park my butt here and stay until sunset.

Yet I already blogged about this Masjid last year I keep thinking.

With so many masjids in Toronto, not breaking fast in an unblogged masjid is a lost opportunity.

I decide to bike less than one minute north of Omar Bin Khattab.

I am standing at a bike ring in front of the same Tim Horton’s I lamented about last year.

Back then, they did not having adequate staffing levels after Taraweeh prayers let out. Will that be the case this Ramadan?

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I begin locking my bike across the street from Masjidur Rahman, but my lock is being difficult and keeps sticking, again.

I can’t quite turn the key properly to lock the lock. A whisper of a sinking feeling that this also is not the Masjid where I am supposed to be for Iftar tonight, begins to echo inside of me.

Nevertheless, I shoot this video then cross the street.

Once inside Masjidur Rahman, I learn they went with Moonsighting rather than Calculations. Today wasn’t their first observed Fasting day of Ramadan, but they will have Taraweeh Prayers after Isha.

No Iftar here tonight. One of the volunteers encourages me to break fast anywhere else then come back here and pray Maghrib Sunset Prayers.

I still feel a need to blog about a new masjid experience for my first Iftar of Ramadan 2012. I ask the same brother who just invited me to stay in Masjidur Rahman about any of numerous small prayer halls, musalahs, in the Regent Park neighbourhood.

Try 325 Gerrard Street he suggests.

Unlocking my bike lock is almost instantaneous.

About a minute later, I am re-locking my bike across from 325 Gerrard Street, in Toronto’s Downtown Social Housing Mecca widely known as Regent Park.

I’ve been inside this building before, when working for Statistics Canada a decade before. I was leading a team of census takers counting everyone.

Today, I would count my blessings if I can make a proper Iftar on time.

Being unable to locate the prayer space within the main floor nor any signs pointing to it, I walk around the building until I can spot an Elder obviously dressed as a Muslim.

White cap and white beard, he is tending a community garden. Yet unlike the frenetic pace of Masjid Volunteers inside Omar Bin Khattab two blocks south, there is no urgency in his movements.

There is an urgency in me to blog about at least one of these small prayer spaces in Regent Park.

This planned social housing neighbourhood is going through a complete transformation. Decades old neglected housing stock is being displaced with mixed income condo towers.

The Elder Muslim informs me yes, they have prayer space in the basement, but it’s usually locked until a few minutes before sunset. Also, since the local congregation begins fasting tomorrow, Saturday, there is no Iftar here tonight.

Time to throw in the towel and give up this round of masjid hopping… Better bike back to where I started.

In-between Regent Park and the Downtown Core is this building. At times I’ve pondered on the reality that many Muslim cab drivers draw a living from picking up fares from buildings like this.

Biking past two Sisters in Hijab, the photojournalist/photoblogger within me demands I stop and capture a photo as they walk under the Filmore Hotel Marquee.


The moment I finally sat down with back against the north wall inside Masjid Toronto, a feeling of relief overwhelms me.

This IS where Iftar was written for me after all.  This is where I belonged tonight, all along.

After breaking fast with dates and praying Maghrib Sunset Prayers, I decide to briefly head outside Masjid Toronto and make a quick moonsighting attempt…

With an ever increasing number of office and condo towers rocketing skywards across Downtown Toronto, it’s getting harder to get a clean line of sight to positively confirm new moonsightings.

Tonight, that’s how I chalk it up.

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Back inside Masjid Toronto.



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