Day 5 – Fraserview Muslim Community Services – 6436 Fraser Street – South Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territory

Tonight takes us into South Vancouver and the Fraserview neighbourhood.

And south of here used to be an important village of The Musqueam People, the original First Nation whose Unceded Territory this part of the city occupies.

Fraser Street is rich with multi-cultural shops and restaurants. On either side of Fraser are ethnically-mixed residential blocks, lots of them. These are the low-density Single Family Homes that make up so much of the news nowadays due to the housing crisis.

In that mix, is a basement prayer space that can easily be missed, even as you walk by and are looking for it.

Fraserview Muslim Community Services is located at 6436 Fraser Street.

I suppose technically, the front door is 6438 Fraser Street as the left side door entrance under the number 6436 is locked, while the right side glass door is unlocked.

A simple sign, but you’d have to look up from eye level to spot it walking along the sidewalk.

This carpet brought a slight smile to my face. In another area of my life, I make Labyrinths. I’ve written about Labyrinths in Islam.

Though this is a maze, and not a labyrinth, I’m still happy to see such a carpet here.

I’ve already prayed my Asr prayer downtown, but want to wash up and perform wudu, to be ready for Maghrib/Sunset Prayer, which is soon enough.

Wudu facility is functional and what one would expect.

This little bit of instruction on how to dry after washing, I did not expect.

Do I want to be using a foot cloth on my face, even if it was laundered?

Quite reasonable suggestion.

Use the face cloths to wipe and dry your face, but the disposable paper to dry your feet. One is laundered and re-used. The other recycled.

Second night in a row the South Asian rose drink Rooh Afza makes its appearance.

It’s close enough to Iftar time, but still early enough that food is still being prepped.

In a smaller multi-purpose room, fruit and salad are being sliced. The space doubles as a small kitchen, while duct taped lines on the carpet confirm this area is also used for prayer.

A young volunteer brother placing a plate of dates and samosas for fast breakers.

Almost all the volunteers are youth in single digits or early teens. They seem to be enjoying helping out, joking with each other.

The sounds of laughter and friendly competition in helping to place the Iftar Plates in their settings contrasts with what I was hearing and seeing yesterday at Masjid-Ul Haqq.

Yesterday, the Iftar Volunteers were the elders of the Masjid, and everyone was remained quiet while awaiting Sunset time.

Tonight, it’s youth voices and laughter filling the Musallah prayer hall.

Rooh Afza. A cup of milk with that South Asian syrup made from roses. It’s kind of cool to realize you can actually break your fast by drinking a flower.

While I’ve been waiting for Iftar, I struck up a conversation with the brother sitting beside me.

He’s originally from India and came to Vancouver 17 years ago. He married a local girl and made the city, and this neighbourhood, his home.

He points to several of the young volunteers who are bringing Iftar plates and placing them throughout the room. He tells me how he’s watched them grow up in this Prayer Hall. He’s very hopeful that this generation will not be lost. That they will retain their friendships, culture and religion.

I also learn the neighbourhood has about 2,000 Muslims, about 300 or 400 Muslim families live close to this Musallah.

Vancouver proper has about 11 to 13 thousand Muslims, suggesting about 10% of the Muslim population of Vancouver lives in this part of South Vancouver.

He makes a point that this is not a Masjid, as it’s a rented basement.

By definition I remind myself that a Masjid can be considered to be a building that offers Congregational Friday Prayers, Jumah.

Though nowadays, that’s turned upside-down, as there are many Friday-Only Prayer locations rented only for the single weekly Jumah prayer. Which is what Vancouver Muslim Community Centre does.

Fraserview Muslim Community Services been here about 10 years.

To remain consistent with all the 30 Masjids blogging over the past 6, now 7, Ramadans, here is the photograph of me holding my Iftar Date. With a cup of Rooh Afza beside it.

Adhan Al-Maghrib. The Call to Sunset Prayer, and everyone breaks their fast.

The phrase not their first rodeo came to mind as I observed how naturally everyone transitioned from Iftar mode into Sunset Prayer mode.

We prayed the Sunset Prayer, about three and half lines were filled. It’s quick. Short verses from the Qur’an. No need to prolong. That seems to be a community norm for these nightly Iftars.

Fraserview provides free daily Iftar Dinners to anyone who shows up.

After prayers, returning to my spot, we all passed Iftar Dinner Plates down the line until everyone had their first serving in front of them.

I was too busy being grateful for my food and enjoying it to strike up any new conversations.

I did learn much of the congregation is Indian, Bengali, and Pakistani background. I also saw Arabs, Africans, and East Asian brothers breaking the fast here.

Fraserview doesn’t have any proper space for sisters. It’s just too small.

Nevertheless, a couple of dads did bring their younger daughters to Iftar and no one made any issue of it. It just seemed a normal thing to do here.

On a whiteboard  I see times listed for Sisters’ weekend afternoon Islamic Education sessions.

Ice cream.

How many Iftar places have Ice Cream?

I figure it’s one of the ways of keeping youth engaged with the Masjid…

What kid doesn’t want Ice Cream for Iftar Dessert?

I had four scoops.

A quarter past 10. Isha is at 11 p.m.

They pray 20 Rakats of Taraweeh here. Unlike last night at Masjid-Ul Haqq, where I barely made it to 8 Rakats of their 20, I want to pray the full 20 tonight.

For that, I need coffee. I saw a Timmies up the street earlier, so off we go…

Tim Horton’s is closed.

They closed at 10 p.m.

A lot of things are closed on Fraser at or after 10 p.m. I keep walking. There will be coffee somewhere. There has to be… this is Vancouver. People drink coffee here like people elsewhere drink water.

A 24 hour fast food chicken joint… maybe they have coffee?

They do have Coffee!

I can make 20 Rakats!

And because it is Vancouver, this fast food chain restaurant not only has coffee, they have organic coffee.

Only one size, one price, a buck eighty. But it was a large, large cup. Tasty too.

All right. This neighbourhood rocks.

Adhan Al Isha, The Call to Night Prayer.

I realize the prayer hall is small enough that they can forgo use of the P.A. System.

Everyone can hear the Muezzin just fine.

We complete Isha and then pray the 8 Rakats. Not too many people are leaving. That was a surprise.

Taraweeh is lead by 5 different Qaris. All but one of them are young. It might be a teacher and his students.

They’re not reciting the entire Qur’an here during the entire month of Ramadan.

Ajyal Islamic Centre has opted to begin reading the beginning of each of the 30 parts of the Qur’an each night, encouraging people to read the rest at home.

Fraserview has made a similar choice.

Each night, Taraweeh prayer leaders will recite the equivalent of one page of the Qur’an in each Rakat (unit) of prayer. 20 Rakats, 20 pages of the Qur’an recited.

Interestingly, the Imam was standing in the doorway into the small multi-purpose room, with the remaining four Qaris standing behind him in a tight front row.

This ends up making the best use of the floorplan allowing the most worshippers. I never felt squeezed during Taraweeh, which can happen and be distracting from the Taraweeh itself.

Nighty, around 100 people, maybe a little bit more, attend Taraweeh. With four or five different prayer leaders, this is full-on Tag-Team-Taraweeh.

Witr was short. All prayers were completed by 12:30 a.m.

It’s time for home, and shortly Fajr.

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