Islamic Affiliation of Sask. goals to construct new mosque in Saskatoon as present centre overflows
The Islamic Association of Saskatchewan (IAS) is building toward a dream 25 years in the making with the start of fundraising for a new mosque, school and community center in Saskatoon.
“This is still somewhat conceptual, but it is a plan to move ahead with this. It will likely have to go in stages simply because of the costs involved. But the idea is, we have land just on the southeast corner of Saskatoon, it’s been a longtime desire in the community to get a purpose-built center,” said Daniel Kuhlen, with the IAS media and outreach team.
The IAS has used a former school on Copeland Crescent as a worship center since the early 1990s. It required a year’s worth of renovations to suit their needs and even then the group knew it would eventually need another location because demand was so high, he said.
That space, which can squeeze in perhaps 600 adults, is “overrun” with worshipers during Ramadan, even with two sessions of Friday prayers.
“Generally speaking, hundreds of people will come and as the month goes on, and as Ramadan starts to draw to close, more and more people come. So it can be a very congested time,” Kuhlen said.
That’s especially the case this year, as the Saskatoon Field House did not have space available this year for Ramadan, so Kuhlen said the IAS hopes its neighbors will be forgiving.
The group released concept drawings for its parcel of land off Patience Lake Road, near the south Costco, on Tuesday, along with a call for donations.
“We do have plans drawn already, but they’re concept plans. We can shift things around, we can suggest other things. Nothing is written in stone yet. So it’s really an opportunity for community members who are interested to give some consideration to the kinds of priority items that they think this facility should have,” he said.
The school in the current building has a waiting list of about 200 kids, so the new Islamic center would also be able to meet the community’s schooling needs, Kuhlen said.
“Education is a key function. In a Muslim community, it’s not just about religious education, which is important. But it’s also having children that are well-grounded in all the core subject areas that they’re going to need from Kindergarten through to high school so that they can excel in their studies.
“It’s all not just a solid, academic, secular education, but also dovetailing that with important acts of spirituality within the Islamic tradition that help create a whole balanced person and somebody who can step into the world and hopefully do good things for the world. “
Kuhlen also stressed that the space wouldn’t just be for Muslims — it’s a place to build bridges.
“As all mosques and all Islamic community centers, it is a space for the entire community. So we envision having many open houses, so non-Muslims can come together to meet their Muslim neighbors to learn about Islam, having special events where non- Muslims can come in and engage with the Muslim community,” he said.
“We think that in this world where there’s a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of suspicion, it’s a really good idea for us to get to know each other, and to understand that we’re all human beings. And we all want to live together as harmoniously as we can, we might have our differences, that’s fine and good, we can respect each other. But we could still be really good friends and really good neighbours.”
If all goes well, the IAS could break ground on the project within two years.