On October 15th as the clock struck 7pm, Sharing Sacred Spaces’ Zoom room filled itself. 178 individuals registered for our virtual visit to the Nugget Mosque in Toronto, facilitated by Imam Yusuf Badat, Imam Ismail, Dr. Vanessa Avery, Rev. Dr. John Joseph Mastandrea, and Vivian Kwok. The participants received a tour through the most important spaces of the Islamic Center — the prayer room, kitchen, ritual cleansing room for those who have passed, and the library. The Imams marvel at how empty the center is, in sharp contrast to its bustling halls pre covid-19. Despite their remarks about absence, we sense a fullness as they enthusiastically walk us through the space, their warmth radiating out into the hearts of the viewers.
We hear from communal members about their spiritual journeys. Patricia Wright shares a story that resonates with participants. When she was 14, before learning about Islam, she entered a mosque for the first time in her life. She wore flip flops and shorts, her hair was uncovered. A sweet small woman approached her, inviting her to pray at her side, lightly placing her finger over her mouth as passers-by stared at Patricia’s attire. Patricia now understands the hospitality of the community and the essence of Islam being
“to walk on this earth softly.”
Syed Nasr spoke about his move from Boston to Canada and how the center brought depth to his practices and religiosity. He exclaimed his sense of responsibility for the image of Islam and the stereotypes that society holds.
“You cannot be a Muslim until you put humanity first!”
says 14 year-old Zeineb. Nafees, a very active member in the community talks about the loss of her husband and finding blessings in life and acceptance towards painful moments. Her relationship with Allah (God) sustains her in the face of adversity.
The participants in the program are moved by how peaceful, accepting, and dedicated the Nugget Mosque community is. They reflected on how this program refreshingly exposed them to Islam beyond the monolithic image fed to them by the media on a daily basis.
The group was left with pressing questions: how do we show the world the peaceful Islam of these communal members? How do we challenge the harmful stereotypes of a post 9-11 world?
This was the first of ten trips into the life of religious communities of Toronto. Come navigate these questions with us - and many more - in the coming months!
See the virtual site visit HERE.
See the full virtual Zoom event HERE.