Monday, January 26, 2009

The local mosque

I just thought I'd post about our local mosque here in pretty-small-town, Quebec (think 75 000 people with the outskirts included). It is relatively new that we have Muslims here. I saw my first hijabi in this city about 3 years ago. Now I see them regularly with the growing Muslim population. So they needed a mosque.

The mosque was established about a year and a half ago and the co-establishers are brothers who each have a Lebanese restaurant here (but they're Maroccan). I know one of them pretty well since he "helped" my web-developper husband by giving him work for 5$/hour (MINIMUM salary being 8.50$) to make a website. Since, they have gotten envolved together in sort of project and I have to say that he is really crooked. I can't wait until my husband can be rid of him in his life because although we appreciate that he gave him a chance to make money when he wasn't able to elsewhere, in the end, he was and is just out for himself. Anyway, all to say that I really dislike him. But it's not my overall verdict of the mosque itself because even though he has a lot of influence (final decisions on how it is run), it is still a community-based thing...

The mosque has a few activities like Arabic and Qur'an lessons for the children, a women's Qur'an and Sunnah class/meeting every week. And it obviously holds Jumaa prayer like any mosque would. The first year they had an imam during Ramadan who went back to Egypt after it was over. He ended up coming back full time at the beginning of summer but he left again recently. So now they are back to alternating the leadership and using khutba speeches from imams in Montreal. It's a bit of a loss for the mosque of course, since there is no real person a Muslim can go to in the community to ask for guidance about any subject. He or she would have to go online or to a Montreal mosque to get answers from an imam.

The women's section is in the back of the hall to one side. It has a door that can be closed (and is closed unless someone is walking through it). It's about 1/15th of the mosque space. It used to have a wall dividing it into a sort of entrance to put coats and it had a table. The other part was the actual praying part so at the time it was really quite small. I went to Friday prayer regularly before I started working, and I've been to some of the occaisions the mosque has had even recently (aqiqah's) and what I felt was that the women's section was too small. It is no problem, even for Friday prayer usually, but for occaisions, we were packed in there like sardines with all the children. And the men, also more numerous on the occaisions, were not packed in any way. For occaisions, there are more women and children than men, I'd say. For Friday prayer, there can be 5-10x more men, but they still only use a fraction of the space.

So that is a complaint I would have if I actually went often. That the women's section could have been made a bit larger. And the other thing I didn't like is how apart we were from the men's section (and by consequence the imam). There was a sort of criss-cross wood type of wall with a white fabric over it letting us see some sorts of shapes through the holes, but no more. I believe that it should be more open than that. We should be able to see the imam speaking. It's not as engaging to just hear it than to see it. Although personally I wouldn't know since they always did it in Arabic. So another down side was that it was not very inviting at Friday prayer for non-Arabs (like converts).

I find it great that the Muslim community here has a real place they can go to for worshipping and that has decent resources for their children. It's not perfect and it's a bit of a dump (it's in a basement, afterall) compared to big mosques in big cities, but it's quite welcoming, I'd say. It's not for me, but I'm glad it's there.

2 Comentários:

Anonymous said...

Salaam Candice,
I am curious. You say you are in small town Quebec, are you close to Montreal? I just ask because I am living there and I have had some of the same reactions to the mosques I have been to.
Anyway, as I said I am just curious. How do you find life in Quebec as a revert. Are you finding enough support?
Ciao!
Ruth

Candice said...

I'm pretty close to Montral. Say about an hour's drive. I'm probably going to the Winter Festival this weekend at Parc Jean Drapeau. :) About life as a revert, I'm actually not Muslim. I'm in more of a learning phase. The reason I've been to teh mosque so often is because my husband is Muslim and especially when he arrived to Canada for the first time, he wasn't very independant here and we went everywhere together. It has been over a year now and he has gained independance with a driver's liscence, friends, etc. But yeah, I can't really comment on life as a revert!

Thanks so much for visiting my blog. :) Hope to see you again!

Exploring Life and Islam © 2008. Template by Dicas Blogger.

TOPO