Last month, I visited the historic Al Rashid Mosque in Edmonton, Alberta. This mosque has a very unique story. Built in the year 1938, it was the first mosque in Canada. It’s development was envisioned and spearheaded by women. The patrons who financed the mosque were Muslims, Christians (Protestants and Catholics), and Jews. The design of this mosque was a fusion between Islamic, Ukrainian Catholic, and Christian Orthodox design.
The land on which this mosque was built was sold for just $550. People from all Muslim groups, sects, and schisms prayed at this mosque as it was the only mosque in the country. It was a great accomplishment for the Canadian Muslims community which was still in its infancy. At the time, there were only around 700 Muslims in Canada. Today, there are over 1,000,000 Muslims in Canada.
After serving the Muslim community for decades, the size of the building could no longer accommodate the needs of the growing Muslim community. It was replaced by another larger building in 1980 which stands until today. The old building was slowly abandoned. However, in 1991 it was moved to its final resting place, Fort Edmonton Park, as a heritage building; considering its unique status as the First Mosque of Canada.
The building is no longer used for daily prayers. However, seasonally visitors come by, some of whom take the opportunity to pray. Although the mosque was actually closed during my visit, the park administration specially opened it up for me. Moreover, I invited the tour guide to join me in Ṣalāt al-Ḍuḥā. It was her first time praying. She said it felt very special. I too felt very special as I couldn’t help but remember that I was standing in the first mosque of Canada, and one of the earliest mosques in North America.
May Allah have His mercy on the early Canadian Muslims who worked tirelessly to establish the foundations of Islam in our country!