By Dr. Emdad Khan
Al-Hamdu Lillah, we pride ourselves on being a diverse and inclusive community and we all feel SNMC is our own community center and masjid. The unique SNMC masjid and center building stands as a visible landmark on Woodroffe Ave in the heart of Barrhaven, Southwest of Ottawa.
The SNMC Masjid and Center obtained city building occupancy permit on 17 December 2014 and the attractive and amazing building was completed at a cost of nine million dollars only in two years, 2013-2014, truly a showcase Islamic building in Ottawa.
The fascinating SNMC journey started in July 1997 at the basement of our home, 1.5 KM away from 3020 Woodroffe Ave. In June 1997, after moving to Barrhaven, we used the local telephone directory and called Muslim sounding names. Al-Hamdu Lilla, we started to gather once a week for Isha/Maghrib on Sundays,
I was working in high tech industry but the family felt depressed not being able to pray regularly in a masjid, and were planning to go back to Bahrain. But my wife, Asma Khan, the dreamer of SNMC, persuaded me and our four children to stay back. Asma was proposed, “let’s build a masjid in Barrhaven”.
By July 1998, we reached a milestone. After working with the then city of Nepean, we were able to secure, a regular location for SNMC, at the old primary school, 3131 Jockvale Heritage building. We used to pray three times in a week at Jockvale SNMC musallah, Maghreb and or Isha, maybe 5/10 persons with few sisters. We stayed there for 17 years from July 1998 to 17 December 2014.
We learned and started Friday monthly lectures and monthly potluck, weekly tutoring in Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry. We also ran a Sunday Quran and Islamic studies school. Later, with support from Ottawa School board, started ruining, Arabic, Urdu, Somali and Bangla schools, first in Adrien Clarkson school, and then at Michael Jean French school. The Quran and Islamic studies had two schools, one on Saturdays and other one on Fridays. Alhamdu Lilla, the Quran and Islamic studies schools are till today functional at SNMC masjid on Fridays and Michael Jean French school on Saturdays, but the tutoring classes are not running.
We already had some South Asian and Arab children as students, and my three daughters with their friends became tutors.
We used the Canadian concept of potluck and arranged yearly picnic, Iftar gatherings and celebrated Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. Asma with her friends, may have prepared food for over 100 potlucks during the long 17 years. Her social assignment was to talk with all the sisters of diverse backgrounds, with special attention to those who are new and have no friends.
In 2001, we started praying Jumah salah with 20 brothers and sisters, and also praying Taraweeh. At times when Jockvale Musallah was not available, we used to pray at some friend’s home.
After many attempts, finally in 2005 Ramadan, got SNMC registered as a non-profit, and after challenging efforts as charity on 1st of January 2007, with all three features, Advancement of Religion, Enhancement of Education, and helping the needy as poverty reduction.
In 2007, the first fundraising dinner was held at Centurion Hall with 500 plus multi-ethnic guests with Sk. Ahmed Shehab as keynote speaker. In 2007, SNMC was able to raise $300K+ for the project. In March 2009, SNMC by open bid purchased, from the city, the 3.2 acres of land at 3020 Woodroffe Ave.
SNMC focused on youths, sisters, seniors, and families and became a leader in offering organized sports, educational, social and spiritual programs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for all segments, and ethnicities. The place is always full of kids, youths, sisters, brothers, and seniors in all activities. SNMC is a fully multi-ethnic, and multi Fiqh, service-oriented masjid and community centre.
The vision of having the community centre and masjid was multifold: first to bring kids, youths, sisters, and brothers into masjid for spiritual activities and second to provide an avenue for activities such as sports, events and education service which will glue the community to the masjid. For Friday Jumah and Ramadan Taraweeh, a large gathering may be held by combining the community centre with the masjid. Year round, the community centre can be used for sports and family-centric community events.
In June 2013, we started the construction of SNMC centre and masjid. The community received the occupancy permit on 17 December 2014 and held the grand opening ceremony with 2,000 Muslims on January 5, 2015.
From July 1998 to January 2016, as the founding president, we spent 20 years of our life, did numerous fund-raising trips, many times, with my wife Asma khan, with volunteers from diverse backgrounds. We were project manager and did all the jobs from cleaning, leading salah, and giving Jumah khutbah, etc. My wife and children, together with the community volunteers, held over 100 community potlucks. We have overcome hundreds of internal and external obstacles in funding, projects, and community issues, like doing 20 Ph.D. projects.
Alhamdu Lillah, from July 1997, one year at our home, from July 1998, 17 years at Jockvale Musallah, and at 3020 Woodroffe Ave, 7 years, SNMC will complete 25 years. Journey.
With Salaam and Regards