Masjid Toronto held an open house on Saturday, October 26th to celebrate Islamic History Month.
At the event, members of the public, religious leaders from different faiths, and representatives of the police services visited the mosque to meet their Muslim neighbors and learn more about Islam and the contributions of Muslims throughout history.
“It is always good to be here at Masjid Toronto, it is such a nice atmosphere,” said Reverend Maggie Helwig of the Church of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields located in the Kensington-Chinatown neighborhood.
“I am really glad that my parish has been able to develop such a good relationship with this masjid as we have had over the last several years.”
“The joint hot soup program is coming back after a break of several months,” added Reverend Helwig.
“One of the prayers that I say every morning describes God as the author of peace and lover of concord and I think this is the God that we are all following and this is part of what joins us together. We are all here to try to build that peace and that concord and that love between all of us.”
Masjid Toronto and the Church of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields have an ongoing partnership to serve a free hot lunch to the city’s needy.
One Saturday every month, volunteers from Masjid Toronto come together at the Church of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields and prepare meals in the church’s kitchen that are served to anyone who drops by.
The Open House included presentations on Islam and on the cultural influences of Islam on western civilization as well as displays, tours of the mosque, calligraphy and henna demonstrations, and samplings of cultural foods.
Masjid Toronto operates two mosques – Masjid Toronto at Dundas and Masjid Toronto at Adelaide where the open house was held.
Both locations serve a large and diverse Muslim community with thousands of worshipers attending one of the three Friday prayer services at each mosque.
“I understand that for Islamic Heritage Month you have chosen the theme, ‘Building Relationships and Celebrating Diversity’ which I think is a theme we need to develop more and more,” fr. Prakash Anthony Lohale, Director of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs Office of the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, told the gathering at the formal opening ceremony of the Open House.
“I want to leave you with one thought as you celebrate Islamic Heritage Month – it is important to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and to look forward to the future with confidence because as you know the past is history, and the future is a mystery but the present is a gift and this is the most precious moment.”
Muneeb Nasir, Co-Chair of the National Muslim Christian Liaison Committee (NMCLC), told the gathering that building relationships start with connecting people through events such as the mosque open house.
“We are living in a time of turbulence, dramatic changes and in a climate emergency,” said Muneeb Nasir.
“To live faithfully in these uncertain times and to strengthen the social fabric of our society, we need to engage in conversations and build relationships with each other to replace the ego-centric way that is defined by separation with an all-centered way grounded in love, compassion, kindness and hospitality.”
“The starting point of building meaningful relationships is by connecting hearts and minds which is what we are doing today.”
Throughout the country, Islamic Centers and mosques have been holding exhibitions, open houses, lectures, workshops and film screenings to mark Islamic History Month.