Updated: Jan 22, 2019
After spending 2 months in Toronto, Ontario, I am reflecting on my experience as a revert Muslim fasting in Canada during Ramadan.
Some time in mid-July, while on vacation, I received a phone call from work to visit Toronto for only 5 days on business, after which I would resume my vacation back home with family and then return back to Dubai (where I reside). I had my Ramadan all figured out and planned in Dubai : volunteering, taraweeh prayers at my usual Ramadan masjid with friends, iftar invitations, spiritual talks etc. Once again, I was reminded by Allah azza wa jal that no matter how much planning we do, we have no control of what is destined for us, subhanAllah.
The 5 days turned into 2 months of intense work, with a busy schedule from morning till night. I was at first seized with panic at the thought of not being able to achieve as much as I'd hoped during Ramadan. Although it was a very different Holy Month of Ramadan for me, I feel I've learnt so much and experienced incredible things with amazing accounters.
I quickly researched all masjids and Islamic centers. A dear sister of mine from Al Huda Sisters group in Dubai was very helpful and recommended the Al Huda Insitute in Mississauga, as well as asked her friends there to look after me. I couldnt believe the warm welcome I received from total strangers! I was chuffed and still am to witness with my own eyes the bond and comfort of our Muslim community and Ummah worldwide.
Here is a short list that could be helfpul to you, on your visit to Toronto :
- Toronto Masjid (168 Dundas Street W, Downtown Toronto) This Masjid is situated in the heart of downtown Toronto, making it very convenient to access and pop in between meetings. They offer three khutbah Friday prayers/sermons one after the other mashaAllah! There is a separate prayer hall for women upstairs. There is enough parking space at the back (make sure you put enough coins to avoid getting a ticket), right at the metro exit, therefore is very accessible. The street has many Arabic restaurants such as Ali Baba (try their falafel sandwich!), hennah and beauty salons etc. For more info and Toronto prayer times, visit http://www.masjidtoronto.com/
- Al Huda Institute (5671 McAdam Road, Mississauga) This institute has it all masha'Allah! From classrooms for men and women, to a book store (with some of their own publications that I recommend), library, prayer hall, reception area for questions and guidance, activities for kids and families, etc! I personally loved the one-coloured hijab touch for the volunteers to easily spot who they are! They are all very welcoming and super friendly. They do things 100%, with great organization and even itikaaf cublicles during Ramadan, taraweeh (there is a pause halfway through with explanation of juz in English language) and qiyam night prayers. It is only a 20-30mn drive from Toronto and there is plenty of parking space. For more info, visit http://www.alhudainstitute.ca/
- ISNA masjid (2200 South Sherida Way, Mississauga) ISNA stands for Islamic Society of North America, and their Islamic center is fantastic. It has a school, basketball courts, library, beautiful mixed prayer hall where women pray at the back (that was a first for me!), fresh food is sold there as well. I strongly recommend attending their khutbah Friday prayers with great sermons in English language. The parking is limited and the exit traffic very congested. Patience is a must! For more info, visit http://www.isnacanada.com/ - Islamic Information & Dawah Center International (1168 Bloor Street West, Toronto) Very friendly, informative and helpful brothers here on Bloor Street West, with a library and pamphlets. Check out their Facebook page here : http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ghurabaa-Dawah-Group/185274551516156?sk=info Map + Public transport details
- Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) I saw lots of flyers for their Eid Al-Fitr celebration they organized in the streets of Toronto : the "Eid Festival" with a carnival 11am - 6pm, with a bazaar! I was sad to miss it! Love the idea though :)
- Flea market, Mississauga If you are in Mississauga and need to buy supplies of any type, I strongly suggest their flea market! From clothes, to fruits and vegetables from their farmers market, and Islamic products such as prayers rugs, hijabs, etc.
- Hennah tattoos, Etobicoke I got my hennah done for Eid, subhanAllah, by a very talented and very kind sister Nusrat Malik. Feel free to give her a call on Lujayne's behalf! Phone number : (647) 997-6786 For location map, rates and more info, click here.
There are many, many other mosques, Dawah and Islamic centers in Toronto, some of which I've been to, seen or not, but the list above is my personal favorites. I've been to them many times during my stay so I feel comfortable to strongly recommend them to you!
Looking back, alhamdulillah I feel blessed to have lived this very unusual Ramadan experience and I can tell you that you will not feel lonely in Toronto. May Allah accept our deeds and accept our efforts made during Ramadan, I wish you a belated Eid! Our Ummah will be taking care of you there inshaAllah!
Thank you to all the wonderful sisters and brothers that made my stay pleasurable, may Allah reward you abundantly! Jazak Allah khair and God bless you!