author: rashad haque | contributor
On Nov. 3, the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan (IAOS) celebrated the purchase of the Pump Roadhouse. The building will be later converted into a Masjid, a house of Muslim worship.
It’s like a church, but for Muslims.
The first mosque in Regina was actually initially a church. As more and more Muslims were immigrating to Regina, Saskatchewan, there was a need to find a house of worship. So, Dr. Muhammad Anwarul Haque, the first President of the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan (IAOS) and one of the founding members, purchased a church and converted it into a mosque.
But, as decades passed, the Muslim population continued to increase such that the mosque Dr. Haque purchased became too small. So, for several years, the Muslim community raised funds to build a new mosque, and finally the IAOS was able to buy the Pump Road House. Munir Haque, the current president of IAOS, says they plan on demolishing the site and hope that within the next couple years they can start constructing the new building.
The IAOS has been trying to find an appropriate site for a new mosque for years, but many of the applications have been rejected. However, since this new development, the dream of a new mosque is now finally on its way with some help from the mayor.
Many Muslims from the east end of Regina tend to drive all the way to the south for their daily prayers, and then again for Friday prayer. The location of the new mosque will make it much easier for Muslims to travel from work and attend prayer without the long drive. Being able to attend prayer is important, especially during special times of the year. For example, during the holy month of Ramadan (a month in which Muslims abstain from eating food and drinking water from dawn until dusk) there is a special prayer known as Taraweeh (a night prayer) in which the Imam recites the entire Quran.
For the past few years, the IAOS has had two locations, one in the main mosque and the second one in the Glencairn Centre, so Muslims from the east end of the city can easily make it to prayer. But with the addition of the Pump Roadhouse, it will be even easier for everyone to attend.
The mosque is the center of every Muslim’s life; it isn’t just a place for prayer. It is also a place for socializing, meeting new people, and forming new relationships within the community. It’s when we stand together in prayer that Muslims are truly united. It doesn’t matter what your outward appearance or ethnic background may be, the mosque is a place for unity.
Although the owner of the Pump Roadhouse, Mark Smith, didn’t want to initially sell the property, after negotiations he decided that it was time for it to go. Some residents of Regina may miss the old roadhouse, but their memories will remain the same, and the old building will have a great new life as a place for Muslim community. As years went by and more Muslims were immigrating to Canada, the original Masjid simply became too small. After many years, the Muslim community’s efforts raising money for the new Masjid have almost accomplished their dream.
At the celebration for the new mosque, there were many distinguished guests including Ralph Goodale, Member of Parliament for Regina-Wascana region; the mayor, Michael Fougere; and Mark Docherty, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. The new building is going to have an impact on not only Regina’s Muslims, but the city of Regina as a whole.
The mosque is central to every being who accepts the message of Islam. Just as each country has its capital, the “capital” for practicing Muslims is the mosque. When prophet Adam (peace be upon him) was sent to the Earth, he built the Ka’bah in Makkah, and it was later rebuilt from his offspring, Abraham (peace be upon him).
When Muslims pray side by side to worship in unity, we put aside our differences, regardless of our ethnic origins, culture, or socio-economic background. The mosque is a place where Muslims feel a sense of belonging, where kids can play and make new friends. To build communities – and this isn’t restricted to communities of only Muslims – the mosque is so much more than a house of worship.
In mosques, like-minded people work together for the greater good. Growing up in Regina, the mosque has always been a place of comfort. If I have a question or concern regarding my personal life, I am always able to find the answer in the mosque. After attending Friday prayer, I can catch up with some old friends that I haven’t seen in a while, make plans with friends, whether that’s going out to eat at a local restaurant or watching a movie at the Galaxy.
This is why I’m so excited about this new mosque that will be built soon, because mosques have done so much good for me, and I know this one will do the same for thousands of Muslims. It is community centres like these that the world needs. Although there is a lot that is going on in the outside world, it’s important to also focus on the good in our lives.
Parents who raised us and took care of us when we were vulnerable and friends who were there for us when the world wasn’t, these are the foundations of every society. I know the mosque, as our community grows, will play a pivotal role in every Muslim’s life. It has had that positive effect on me, and I hope many other Muslims across the globe will share the same love for their mosque as I love mine.
This is a great moment of joy for Regina Muslims, but there is still lots of work that needs to be done. We thank God for giving us this new site, and we look forward for what’s to come in the near future.