Women’s Mosque of Canada holds first prayer meeting in Toronto
Published Friday, April 19, 2019 5:01PM EDT Last Updated Friday, April 19, 2019 7:11PM EDT
On Friday afternoon, Muslim women gathered in a Toronto church for the first prayer meeting of the Women’s Mosque of Canada.
The service, which was held at Trinity St. Paul’s United Church near Bloor Street and Spadina Avenue, was meant to provide a safe space for Muslim women to practice their faith.
“As the flag bearers of the faith, we are being targeted and attacked in our mosques, on the streets and in our legislative assemblies yet we refuse to stop practicing our faith and connecting with our Creator - The Almighty, Most High,” the group said on their website.
Citing a rise of Islamophobia and hate crimes around the world, including the recent mosque attacks in New Zealand and Quebec City, the group says it will be offering bi-weekly Friday prayers for women that are led by women.
Farheen Khan, co-founder of the Women’s Mosque of Canada, said that many of the women attending the prayer may not have gone to mosque in a long time.
“They don’t see themselves reflected in the traditional mosque, so they want a space for themselves,” Khan said.
The space for the April 19 prayer meeting was made available by the founder of the Trinity St. Paul’s Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts.
“I think it is absolutely incumbent upon people of faith, no matter what their faith is … to stand together in love these days,” said Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo. “We came out of this period where we’ve seen a rise in Islamophobia, we’ve seen the rise of anti-Semitism, and I think as Christians we have to really live Christianity and love our neighbour, no matter who are neighbour is, but particularly our sisters in the book.”
DiNovo said that the first time she saw a church open its doors to another faith group was at her last church, after the 9/11 attack in New York.
“We invited out local mosque to come and worship with us. They came that Sunday, a bus load.”
DiNovo called the prayer meeting – which was held on Good Friday in the Christian faith and the Eve of the 15th Shabaan in Islam— a “historic day.”
“It’s a step forward to building safe places for people to pray,” Larai Khalid, a woman who attended the prayer, said. “It’s more of a safe place for women to pray.”
The Women’s Mosque of Canada said they plan to ask other congregations of different religions to use their places of worship until they can establish a permanent space of their own.
With files from CTV News Toronto's Austin Delaney