Regina’s Ahmadiyya Mahmood Mosque is the only purpose-built mosque in Canada. (Photo by Frank Flegel)
REGINA — Regina’s recently constructed Ahmadiyya Mahmood Mosque stands out in east Regina, surrounded by hotels, retail outlets and nearby residents, all of whom appear to welcome the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in their midst.
“Even while it was being built, people from around here were bringing us hot meals,” said Imam Zeeshan Ahmed in an interview with the Prairie Messenger.
The local community also showed its support following the shooting in Quebec that occurred while that community was in prayer. “We had more than 200, mostly non-Muslims, when we opened the doors and invited everyone in,” said the imam.
Non-Muslims continue to come, he said — in fewer numbers, but they come, and “some pray with us or pray on their own.” He pointed out that often people staying at the hotels nearby the mosque will come and ask for a tour. “We welcome all.”
The imam also commented that, as far as he was concerned, the Quebec shooting was not just an attack on Muslims: “It was an attack on Canada and the freedom and values that we all hold dear.”
The imam’s father had to take his family and flee Pakistan in 1990 because Ahmadis are persecuted and not allowed to practice their religion in that country. Because of this previous experience, he was particularly pleased with the welcome shown his community by people in Regina.
The Mahmood Mosque was officially opened in October 2016 by the world leader of the Ahmadiyya Jama’at, Caliph Mirza Masroor Ahmad.
“We were very humbled to have him here with us for our opening,” said Ahmed. His Friday homily that day was broadcast to over 200 countries by a satellite service TV crew that accompanied the caliph from London, England.
Ahmed pointed out that Ahmadis are not part of the mainstream Muslim community: “We are a sect of Islam, and our motto is, “Love for All, Hatred for None.”
The imam is proud of the Mahmood mosque which is the first and only purpose-built mosque in Canada. Other mosques are in re-purposed buildings. It was built over a two-year span entirely with volunteer labour. Ahmed said it cost the community $1.2 million to build and it has a value of over $10 million.