Kitchener Masjid serves as model for how Waterloo’s Islamic centre will support local communities

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OPINION Sep 30, 2019 by Asif Manzoor Waterloo Region Record

Canstruction file photo for web

The local chapter of the Muslim Association of Canada has participated in the Food Bank of Waterloo Region’s Canstruction event at the Conestoga Mall. – Muslim Association of Canada

The Islamic Centre of Waterloo on Erbsville Road was established to serve the many families that live in its vicinity, strengthen community bonds and cultivate a positive and healthy environment for everyone in the region, building on the strong legacy of the nearby Kitchener mosque.

The organization that oversees both projects, along with 15 other community centres across the country, is the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) — a national, faith-based charitable organization that provides space, services and programs to Canadian Muslims. With a committed focus on strengthening neighbourhoods, MAC hopes that the success of Kitchener Masjid will serve as a blueprint for how the Islamic Centre of Waterloo will support local communities.

In addition to serving the community’s spiritual needs, Kitchener Masjid offers youth programming, social services for newcomers, space for community celebrations, educational services and interfaith initiatives that are open to everyone. Perhaps one of the most beautiful ways that Kitchener Masjid, like all MAC centres, has served the community is by being committed to our shared values as Canadians, including fulfilling our responsibility to serve the most vulnerable.

Partnerships with neighbouring charitable organizations have also been a priority of Kitchener Masjid. MAC Give has teamed up with the Food Bank of Waterloo Region and for four years has participated in the Canstruction event at the Conestoga Mall and donated more than 18,000 cans of food. During the month of Ramadan, meals were prepared for local shelters to support our community’s most vulnerable people. The centre has graciously welcomed and assisted with the settlement of Syrian refugees who arrived in their new homes in our shared community as of 2016. Since that time, the centre has strived to bring new families into the fold of the community by hosting a Syrian cultural orientation and cuisine nights as a means of showcasing the best parts of what Syrian families have brought with them to enrich the fabric of our nation.

Of course, Muslim history is one of treaties, partnerships and mutually assured prosperity. As such, all MAC centres are committed to reconciliation and honouring the traditional peoples of the land on which we now all reside together. The Islamic Centre of Waterloo, like Kitchener Masjid, believes that honouring the Haldimand Tract in the spirit in which the Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples signed it — in friendship and mutual support — is the best way to recognize our place as settlers, immigrants and refugees while celebrating and affirming the multiculturalism which makes our country great. MAC believes in a Canada where everyone has the freedom to live in harmony with one another as they are.

Islamically, caring for our neighbours as if they are ourselves is a central tenet of faith and one that Muslims are reminded of constantly in religious teachings. MAC centres have always endeavoured to be an institution its neighbours welcome and are proud of. In the case of Kitchener Masjid ensuring no disruption in traffic flow by encouraging right turns only and generally minimizing any impacts from the centre’s presence has created a positive relationship with its surrounding community.

All people should feel that it is a centre that belongs to them. For MAC and the Islamic Centre of Waterloo, considering the feedback of the leadership in the Laurelwood area has been a top priority to continue the existing legacies of the local community and build on them for a brighter future together.Asif Manzoor is a program manager in the aerospace industry. He lives in Kitchener and serves with the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) as the volunteer chapter head for the Waterloo Region and Wellington County.

Asif Manzoor is a program manager in the aerospace industry. He lives in Kitchener and serves with the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) as the volunteer chapter head for the Waterloo Region and Wellington County.

The original article can be viewed here.

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