Sahaba Mosque in Boyle Street
After I moved to Boyle Street in 2013, I often walked past the modest building at 9216 105th Avenue and wondered about its sign in front, “Sahaba Mosque.” It looks as if it was a community hall in a past life and has little or no resemblance to a mosque. Then I noticed the separate entrances for women and men, and on Fridays I saw many cars overflowing the parking lot and men arriving in their thobes (an ankle-length, long-sleeved gown).
I recently learned a bit about the Sahaba Mosque in conversation with Sami Khalaf, a board member of Edmonton’s Downtown Islamic Association which was established in 1998. The association operates the Sahaba Mosque and is also establishing a mosque on the south side.
Khalaf says people regularly visit the Sahaba Mosque to fulfill the Muslim obligation to pray five times a day. The women pray downstairs and the men upstairs. The building doors can remain open for daily prayers because Imam Abdul Shakoor has an office there where he writes sermons, prepares for Qur’an classes, and meets with members of the mosque who ask for spiritual guidance.
The congregation of about 200 to 250 people is made up of people from many ethnically diverse regions: North Africa (Egypt, Somalia, Nigeria, Eritrea, and other countries), the Middle East, Pakistan, and other places.
The Sahaba Mosque is undergoing minor renovation, as the kitchen and bathrooms are in need of improvement. In addition, the Downtown Islamic Association has bought land at 44th Avenue and 127th Street with a view to building a mosque on the south side. A house on the property is being used as a school, and a shed-type building serves as a temporary mosque.
One of the goals of the association is to engage youth through programs and services such as soccer games, summer camps, barbecues, and other social activities. In this way, young people can meet their peers, learn more about Islam, and talk about how they can best navigate the challenges of young adulthood.
During Ramadan, the association participates in the traditional “families in need” service. Members deliver food to seniors and others who have difficulty making meals or cannot afford groceries. In some cases, local restaurants donate the food; in others volunteers gather to cook the meals.
The mission of the Sahaba Mosque/Downtown Islamic Association is, in part, “To sustainably provide a welcoming space and promote an indigenous practice and realization of Islam rooted in excellence, gratitude, and inclusion.”
Editor’s note: _Our May 2006 issue featured a profile of the Al-Rashid Mosque, which is Canada’s first mosque. You can read the issue here
Anita Jenkins is a retired writer and editor who lives in Boyle Street.