Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu dear community members,
We have compiled some of the frequently asked questions regarding our current programs, projects and activities, as well as some of the questions that were raised in the fundraising dinner hosted on December 4, 2021 for the Hyde Park Masjid. There are five sections below: 1) General, 2) Noor Gardens, 3) Westmount, 4) Hyde Park, and 5) MAC Youth Centre Sale. If you do not find answers to your question here you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) and what are its Mission and Vision for the Muslim community?
Over the past two decades MAC has grown to be the largest grass-roots Muslim organization with a national reach rooted in strong local chapters in 13 cities across Canada. With 18 community centers, 9 full-time schools, 20 weekend schools, 4 child care centers, MAC serves over 55,000 community members weekly across Canada. As an Islamic organization we understand Islam as outlined in the Quran, the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (Sunnah) and our understanding of Islam is one of balance and moderation, constructive engagement in society, focus on personal and communal empowerment, and establishing value-based organizations. To learn more about MAC visit <https://www.macnet.ca/about-mac> and visit the national FAQ page for questions related to the MAC organization as a whole <https://www.macnet.ca/faq-2/>.
When and how was MAC established in London?
MAC London chapter was started in 2001 by a group of young sisters and brothers. Many of these sisters and brother were active members of Muslim Students Associations during their education and the London Chapter allowed these brothers and sisters continue work focused on youth. Initially, the group of sisters and brothers would meet to plan activities at the London Muslim Mosque, Western University campus, and each others’ homes, till they eventually were able to purchase the MAC Youth Centre. Alhamdulillah the chapter has grown substantially since then with many more centres and a continued effort to cater to the needs of our youth, pre-teens, sisters, young professionals, and the community as a whole to build and establish the women and men who will lead our community in the future inshallah. For more information about the MAC London Chapter please visit <www.maclondon.ca>.
What is MAC London’s Vision and Strategy for its institutions in London?
MAC London envisions accessible and active spaces for our youth and community members to grow and develop spiritually, socially, emotionally, and intellectually. MAC London has been involved with various institutional projects in London as listed below:
- MAC Youth Centre: This location was purchased and opened in 2006 and sold in 2020. The space did not have a dedicated masjid and it allowed our youth to gather in a comfortable space for building bonds and spiritual identity.
- MAC Noor Gardens Community Centre: The community purchased this 13-acre land in 2012 and has been working towards developing the land and building a multipurpose facility.
- MAC Westmount Masjid: In early 2019, this site was leased to build a congregation and team that would operate until the Noor Gardens location was constructed and ready. For more information please visit <www.macwestmount.ca>.
- MAC Hyde Park Masjid: In 2020, community consultations were carried out for a possible site in the Northwest part of the city. This venue includes a gymnasium, prayer space, and a youth space similar to the Youth Centre, and the team is aiming to have the space ready for Spring 2022 inshallah. For more information please visit <www.machydepark.ca>.
- Possible North Location: The London team continues to assess the needs of the community and support meeting such needs in a financially prudent manner with the allocation of appropriate human resources. It will also ensure the adequate community consultations and communications take place in support of any initiative before proceeding. MAC London opened a temporary location in the north part of the city just before April 2021 until September 2021 for Ramandan to help develop Hyde Park congregation and programming. However, the community at the temporary location showed strong support for a permanent location in the north part of the city, which was also supported by the strong attendance of regular prayers at the temporary location. At this point the team is merely considering options based on any strong opportunity that may arise and will communicate with the community if a viable option presents itself.
MAC London prioritizes building people and as such started its efforts without any institutional spaces at all. The various projects the team has been involved in are directly connected to the needs and consultations with the community. A key part of its strategy is built on the appreciation that large community centres are a heavy investment and not always practical or needed. Where opportunities present for smaller multifunction spaces that can be obtained at an effective lease, they are more manageable and practical for the community. Large ‘anchor’ centres are still needed as we need schools and larger facilities that act as hubs especially in areas highly concentrated with muslim pupolation. We hope Noor Gardens will be one such facility that will be developed in phases over time inshallah. Finally, the MAC London team works closely with local community leaders and muslim institutions to ensure all institutions compliment one another for the benefit of the overall community and ensure resources are utilized in an efficient manner.
Are we doing too many projects and stretching the community’s resources too thin?
We thought we were stretching the community when we opened MYC in 2006, and also Westmount in 2019, and then with Hyde Park temporary locations in 2021, however, these projects were quickly owned by the community through attendance, funding, and volunteering. We are observing that our community is growing and so are its needs and the potential to support multiple projects. Alhamdulillah, we have had very good feedback and the community is very thankful of investments we have made together so far. Nevertheless, our resources are limited and we seek to ensure there is appropriate consultation, engagement and collaboration as we move forward inshallah.
When will Youth camps and trips restart? What activities are there for our youth at the moment?
The youth department had plans to have youth camps in 2021 but instead they were only able to host BBQs and some social events due to Covid restrictions. There are active plans to have a camp in summer 2022, as well as other social/spiritual events. Inshallah the new space at Hyde Park Masjid also allows the team more flexibility in terms of programming.
How can I get involved and help out with Youth work?
There are many active programs that you can participate in at Westmount Masjid. We also need more volunteers to help plan and establish youth programs and you can reach us at email@example.com while specifying that you would like to work with youth.
2) NOOR GARDENS
Why is the Noor Gardens Community Centre (Noor Gardens) delayed and are we still going to build this centre?
As mentioned, our community acquired the land in 2012, and it is important to consider the journey we have been on to appreciate the scale of this project and its delays. The delays are frustrating for everyone that includes community members, volunteers, and those leading the project, and yet we remain committed to overcome the challenges inshallah. Below are some of the key reasons that have contributed to delays:
- Unserviced land that needed rezoning: The community bought the land for a very small price of about $1.2M, however it is expensive to build on the land because of its size and the fact that the land was not zoned and there are no water, gas, electric, and sanitary services on site. The factors also add time to construction because all of these factors have to be carefully planned and engineered before construction.
- Community consultations: A key principle that the project leaders upheld was community consultations. This also meant that in the initial design we tried to do a lot to make everyone happy, a goal that was not feasible due to the rising construction costs. As a result the team has been reassessing the design to phase elements of construction over different phases and yet have a first phase that adequately meets the present needs of the community.
- Limited sanitation systems capacity: Due to the fast growth in the area, the project was not able to obtain sanitation capacity from the city. The project had the option of waiting till the city brought services along Bradley Rd or building massive and expensive in ground sewage/septic tanks. Alhamdulillah, the project was finally able to secure services along Bradley Road on the south end of the land parcel.
- Developments in the construction industry: The project team had hired professionals to help plan costs for the project, however, their cost estimates were significantly under the tender price contractors quoted the project for. This was at least partially due to the rapid developments in the construction industry, and the inability of the professionals hired to prioritize the cost target as directed by the project leads. The Noor Gardens team also learned that a complex project like this needed to be tackled in stages and the price of the project and timelines need to be even more strictly emphasized.
- Financials: The target price for the first phase of this project is around $12M. The team has raised some of these funds (around $2M), however, in developing the land and first phase it must plan the financial aspects of the project as well. The team has been working on securing a sharia compliant loan for the project.
Are you re-assessing the designs for Noor Gardens?
Yes, we are re-assessing the designs to try and reduce costs wherever possible without compromising the vision we had for the project and the impact it will have inshaAllah. Part of the strategy is to consider a single story design and delay certain elements to later phases that are not as urgent. The current plan is for the team to analyze the phasing of the project and execute on a plan that still gives us the original Noor Gardens vision while striking a balance between feasibility and functionality for our community.
When are you breaking ground at Noor Gardens?
We are currently working on finalizing an updated design with the help of the architects and engineers. It is also difficult to estimate how long it will take to obtain the sharia-compliant financing. The contractor selection process is a time-consuming process to finalize. We want to proceed with care and diligence to a target groundbreaking as soon as possible, and we will provide updates as we go along. Alhamdulillah, Westmount and Hyde Park give us some breathing room while we continue to push hard on Noor Gardens.
Should we sell the Noor Gardens land since we have Westmount and soon Hyde Park as well inshallah?
This large land is a gift from Allah (swt) to us for many projects that may be realized in later phases by future generations such as a school, senior housing, community centre, affordable housing, etc. The Noor Gardens land, its servicing, and the phase 1 construction is the foundation of being able to realize the vision of fulfilling these future needs of the community. Noor Gardens will also form another anchoring institution for our community at large, while smaller masjids such as Hyde Park will supplement with covering the neighbourhood specific needs.
Has my Noor Gardens donation been spent at Hyde Park or Westmount Masjids? What will happen to the project if we do not have sufficient funds?
No, each institution has a separate account and funds are dedicated for the purpose for which they are collected. The project will be built with the help of Allah (swt) and the continued commitment of the community. We have secured the ownership of the land and once we have sufficient funding and approvals we will construct the buildings as well inshallah.
3) WESTMOUNT MASJID
What are some of the current programs my children or I can participate in at Westmount Masjid?
The Westmount Masjid committee and Imam Abdulkarim Sekta have been working hard in new and effective programs as well as continuing existing programs to address the needs of the various community segments including youth, sisters, and brother. This includes the Sahib Al Quran program that helps students understand and memorize the holy Quran, Friday Family Circle, Thursday Kahf readings, and various weekend school classes. Please visit our website or join our community whatsapp group for the Masjid to learn more about current and upcoming programs.
How are the current finances of Westmount?
Alhamdulillah prior to the COVID pandemic, Westmount income from jumua prayers, food sales, monthly donors, and programming was sufficient to cover all expenses related to staffing, rent, and operations. During COVID we are relying much more on large annual fundraising, however, inshallah we are anticipating post-COVID the finances will return to the pre-COVID period where the operational income was sustaining the expenses incurred by the Westmount mosque. MAC Westmount however also has more staff to support the growing needs of the community and now has operational costs of about $30,000, half of which goes to the rent of the facility. We have an ongoing fundraising campaign at the moment we strongly encourage you to support generously at <macwestmount.ca>.
How can we meet the new Imam?
Imam Abdulkarim Sekta is available in his office usually before or after any of the regular daily prayers, and can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there consideration to invest into the Westmount Plaza and reduce the rent burden on the community?
The MAC London team has looked into taking funds from the MYC sale to invest into the plaza, however there are no plans to move in this direction at the moment. We will continue to update the community if there are any changes to plans on how community funds will be used.
How can I get involved and help out at Westmount Masjid?
We need your help to strengthen this masjid into a hub for the community and you come and visit for any daily prayers to connect with the committee members about opportunities. You can also speak with Imam Abdulkarim Sekta and help out with the various weekly programs taking place at the Westmount Masjid. Finally, you can join our volunteers whatsapp group for the Westmount Masjid at <https://chat.whatsapp.com/KnF75sn4hAC2QIXnQSKhZd>.
How can I get updates for programs at the Westmount Masjid?
Updates are posted regularly regarding upcoming programs and activities on the Westmount Masjid whatsapp community group. Please feel free to join the group at <www.tiny.cc/wmupdates4>.
4) HYDE PARK MASJID
Why is a plaque honoring the #OurLondonFamily victims being erected at the Hyde Park Masjid?
The plaque is being placed with the permission of the closest relatives of #OurLondonFamily victims who were taken from us in a brutal islamophobia incident. The community would like the family to be remembered in connection with this Masjid for the follow reasons:
- The tragic incident that shook our community took place just a couple of hundred meters from the site of the Hyde Park Masjid.
- It is hoped that this masjid and the plaque raised will serve as a reminder for the rest of the community for the commitment and sacrifice needed to protect our future with love and pride and not accept hate and division.
- The family was a proud supporter of the Hyde Park Masjid and participated in the recent Ramadan programs because of the proximity to their home and to help instill a strong and proud sense of islamic identity in their children.
- The family loved Canada as their home, and would speak of how such institutions are the best safety mechanism for our community’s future in this land. This was further embodied by them through their strong attachment and presence in local muslim institutions.
Why did we temporarily open a location at Wonderland Rd and Fanshawe Rd, and why are we now holding jumua prayers at the Greek Canadian Community Centre?
The goal of the temporary location was to build a committee for the Hyde Park masjid as well as a congregation to service and demonstrate to the community the benefits of a masjid in this part of the city. With a regular congregation for all prayers, and especially for jumua, the committee made arrangements with the Greek Canadian Community Centre to continue vital services until the Hyde Park Masjid is ready.
What is the floor layout for Hyde Park masjid and what are the key considerations for the design?
You can learn about the construction details for the Hyde Park Masjid by visiting the website <www.machydepark.ca>, and selecting the construction page <https://centres.macnet.ca/machydepark/hyde-park-mosque/>.
What are some of the planned programs for Hyde Park masjid?
Much of the programming offered at Westmount Masjid, such as a weekend school, daily prayers, and weekly halaqas will also be established at the Hyde Park Masjid. Alhamdulillah with the availability of the gymnasium and the youth centre with activities on the second, there are more options for the nature of programming that can be catered to different community segments inshallah. Please join our WhatsApp groups to get the latest updates.
How much is it costing the community to build the Hyde Park Masjid?
You can learn about the construction details for the Hyde Park Masjid by visiting the website <www.machydepark.ca>, and selecting the construction page <https://centres.macnet.ca/machydepark/hyde-park-mosque/>.
When is Hyde Park opening?
Alhamdulillah there is significant progress with respect to construction but there is still quite a bit of work remaining. We were hoping to have Hyde Park open by Ramadan 2022 and will keep you updated inshallah on progress.
How will Hyde Park Masjid operations be financially supported?
The Hyde Park financial model is very similar to that of the Westmount model. There was an initial investment made for the construction of the facility and we’re doing a further investment in the plaza that will generate revenue. Westmount is able to run in a predominantly self-sustaining model with Ramadan fundraising, regular donors with automatic donations, and weekly jumua donations and food sales. We do not have to fundraise large amounts from the entire community as we have needed to do for Noor Gardens. The investment in the plaza will further help the self-sufficiency model of the Hyde Park mosque in the long run with monthly investment income.
Is there a plan to coordinate programming between Westmount and Hyde Park so there aren’t conflicts?
Yes, the two mosques will have the same essential services, however, they will also have a different flavor to cater to different needs. For example, Hyde Park has a large gymnasium that allows for very different programming. Moreover, schedules will be maintained to ensure best use of resources and availability of programming and services to the community.
How can I get involved and help out at Hyde Park Masjid?
Inshallah when the Hyde Park Masjid opens we will need a lot of help to build this masjid into a hub for the community and you will be able to connect with the committee members about opportunities. You can also meet committee members at the weekly jumua service that takes place at the Greek Canadian Community Centre and help out with the service while construction continues on the Hyde Park Masjid. Finally, you can join our volunteers whatsapp group for the Hyde Park Masjid at <http://tiny.cc/hpvolunteer>.
How can I get updates for programs at Hyde Park Masjid?
Updates are posted regularly regarding upcoming programs and other updates including construction on the Hyde Park Masjid whatsapp community group. Please feel free to join the group at <www.tiny.cc/hpupdates2>.
5) MAC YOUTH CENTRE SALE
Why did you sell the MAC Youth Centre (MYC)?
The decision to sell the MYC was reached after consultations that included community meetings for multiple reasons. The MYC posed challenges with accessibility to the centre, as well as it had limited space and insufficient parking space for our events and essential daily prayers. Furthermore, the community’s growth made it imperative to find a larger space to accommodate our community events and services. When we moved programs to Westmount Masjid, we were not able to find tenants to rent the second floor space either so keeping the building was costing the community despite some rental income from other spaces. Finally, the financial benefit of investing in Hyde Park was much more prudent and beneficial for the community.
How much did we buy MYC for and how much did we sell it for?
The MYC was purchased in 2006 for around $700K with $50k in renovations. It was paid for over a 5-year period through a Vendor-Take-Back loan. The MYC was sold for about $2M early 2021, alhamdulillah.
How will the funds from the MYC sale be used?
So far half of the funds of the MYC sale have been allocated to invest into the Hyde Park Masjid plaza to offset the costs of rent. The remaining half of the funds are also allocated for capital costs. The MYC generated income to support community programs and many people who donated to MYC want the money from the MYC sale to continue to be used for generating income and supporting community programs. The MAC London team will continue to seek consultation and keep the community updated on how these funds will be utilized for capital investment in the future of our community, inshallah.