Masjid Toronto honours Muneeb Nasir with award for exceptional community service
Muneeb Nasir was recognized with the “Masjid Toronto Award for the Community Service” on Wednesday, April 5, 2023 at a Community Iftar for officials, community leaders, police officers, and community members held at the mosque.
“In Recognition for Your Incredible Service and Support of the Community for more than 20 years,” read the award.
“Masjid Toronto Committee unanimously agreed on presenting this year's Community Service Award to Br. Muneeb Nasir,” said Imam Dr. Wael Shehab. “The Award has been presented to Nasir in recognition of his long years of service and support of the community.”
Imam Shehab further explained, “Nasir is a community builder. He is very active in promoting interfaith relationships, building bridges with the Indigenous communities, supporting social justice for racialized groups, and empowering women, seniors, youth, and the vulnerable.”
“Personally, I have been greatly influenced and encouraged by Nasir’s leadership, writings, and activism,” added Imam Shehab.
Muneeb Nasir is a founding committee member of Masjid Toronto and a long-standing Khateeb (Friday prayer leader) since the early 1980s at many downtown prayer locations, including at the University of Toronto - Hart House, Ryerson University and Toronto Hydro.
He is a well-known Muslim community leader, writer, and interfaith activist who is respected for his knowledge and involvement in religious and current affairs. Earlier this year, Nasir was awarded the National Muslim Christian Liaison Committee 2023 BMG (Berthrong, Muinnudin, Gregerson) Award for Interfaith Collaboration.
The award was accepted by Muneeb Nasir’s sons, Nabeel and Umar, on behalf of their father.
“I would like to convey to Imam Wael Shehab, the Management of Masjid Toronto, MAC, and the congregation my profound gratitude for honouring me with this very special award,” said Muneeb Nasir in an invited comment. “This award is very dear to me as I consider Masjid Toronto to be a spiritual home for me. I also appreciate the many supplications that the Masjid Toronto congregation have made, over the past few months, for my health and speedy recovery.”
“This year’s Community Iftar has been a success,” said Imam Wael Shehab. “After years of lockdown, all fabrics of society have come together tonight to join our community in breaking the fast.”
Hundreds of the community members gathered in the Masjid ahead of the Maghrib prayers to warmly welcome and attentively listen to the guests' speeches.
Speakers from different levels of the governments and faith communities expressed their appreciation to the Muslim community for their contributions to Canadian society and reflected on the common values that all Canadians share.
Daily Iftar Program
Masjid Toronto serves 350 Iftar meals each night during Ramadan when community members and neighbours from different backgrounds come together to share the spiritual moments and break the fast at sunset.
“Though it has become so challenging to sustain the daily Iftar Program due to rising inflation and food prices, the exemplary generosity of the community has been up to the challenge,” said Imam Shehab. “In the holy month of Ramadan, community members spare no effort to support social programs and give back to our society,” added Imam Shehab.
“It is a very beautiful tradition that Masjid Toronto has been doing for tens of years,” Imam Shehab explained.
Since its opening in 2002, Masjid Toronto runs the Iftar program throughout the holy month of Ramadan to serve community members and neighbours of the mosque.
History of Masjid Toronto
In the early 1980s, the congregation that founded Masjid Toronto was accommodated for Friday congregational prayers at Oakham House at Ryerson University (Toronto Metropolitan University) with Muneeb Nasir being one of the regular Khateebs.
As the Muslim congregation for the Friday prayers grew, the university restricted access to its facilities to students. Muslims working in downtown Toronto would go on to rent various spaces along University and Bay streets to perform the congregational Friday prayer. The Toronto Star in an article would dub the group the ‘walking congregation.’
Throughout the 1990s, the Muslim population in the downtown core of the city looking to perform the weekly Friday prayers grew exponentially and it became more challenging to find a space every week to accommodate the congregation.
By the late 90’s, efforts by a volunteer committee began to acquire a building to serve as a mosque for the Muslim community and the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) was invited to take on the project.
In early 2000s, the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) started negotiations to acquire a bank building on 168 Dundas St West.
By January 2002, MAC was able to finalize a lease agreement with the bank and open the building to the public as a mosque.
The mosque was named Masjid Toronto, which means Toronto Mosque in Arabic. Payments for the building were completed in 2008.
Today, Masjid Toronto is one of the busiest mosques in the city.
Large numbers of worshippers attend the mosque as it is strategically located in the downtown core, in close proximity to the Toronto financial district (Bay Street), the Discovery district, four local hospitals (Princess Margaret, Mount Sinai, Sick Kids, Toronto General), U of T and Ryerson University.