Canadian Muslims in Okotox rent local church site for Friday prayers

The Muslims of Okotoks do not yet have a mosque or a prayer hall.

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, OKOTOKS – Muslims in Okotoks, Alberta, Canada finally have a place of worship. Previously, they had to travel for Friday prayers, either south of Calgary or as far as High River.

Now the community has partnered with Okotoks United Church. The two had agreed to rent the community space for each pray Friday sometime later. This collaboration also shows that the region’s thriving Muslim community now has a focal point, as well as a gathering place that has been missing for years.

“It was really important to me when I moved from Toronto six months ago. This (gathering place) is something I miss,” said Okotoks Muslim Salam Akhtar, quoted in Radio Canada, Tuesday (27/12/2022).

With the support of Calgary’s vast community, he says local Muslims can finally find their place. This is called the first stage and it is very significant.

For other members of the Muslim community, this agreement reduces the time needed to travel to the nearest mosque or place of worship. A Muslim who lives in Calgary but works at Okotoks, Mohamed Desouki, says he is normal pray Friday at High River. The trip took him about 1.5 hours.

“Usually I have to be off work for an hour and a half and now it’s only two minutes. It’s more comfortable,” he said.

Desouki’s uncle is said to have come to Alberta in 1905 and helped build Calgary’s first mosque. Calgary priest Syed Soharwardy travels to Okotoks to officiate pray First Friday. He called this opportunity a historic event for the Muslim community.

“We planned to pray Fridays and Holidays church allowed us to rent the place,” he said.

He said that so far there has not been a single Muslim place of worship in Okotoks. However, with the existence of a large Muslim population today, there is a need for it.

“Now they have their own space. The church is very flexible,” he continued.

About 30 people reportedly showed up for the first worship session earlier this month. Soharwardy said women and children were also welcome at the site. He said that in the future it is possible that the city will have its own mosque.

Matilda Baker

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