The West Shore Muslim Community is celebrating Ramadan in a new prayer and community space.
The BC Muslim Association’s Westshore branch has secured a dedicated space in Colwood to allow members to pray and create community connections.
“Before we used to rent places on and off. It was hard to find a space,” Muzaffar Khan, the Westshore branch maintenance director, said.
For the last few years, the association rented a room in the Colwood Community Hall for its Friday prayers.
The Muslim faith requires those who practice to pray five times a day, meaning the brief rentals weren’t enough for the association’s needs.
The association said there are 150 Muslim families in the West Shore, with more moving in as the community grows.
Members who wanted to pray regularly in a group would have to drive to the Mosque in Victoria.
Suleman Ahmad, Westshore branch chair, told CHEK News it took about two years to fundraise enough money to rent a space full-time and find one that met the religion’s requirements.
The space needed to be big enough for large groups, but also have spaces to separate the men and women.
Ahmad said the new location at 1830 Island Highway in Colwood was perfect.
“It’s a sense of relief for Muslims because a lot of people did not want to drive down to Victoria to pray five times a day. So now they have a place they can come 27-7 pretty much it’s going to be open,” Ahmad said.
The space will also be used for community gatherings and activities while bringing people of all ages together.
“We have youth coming in,” Imran Zia, Westshore branch general secretary, said. “They’re able to connect with the Islamic culture, they can see how others are doing and they can have a sense of belonging in this community.”
The association said this is the first step to expansion.
The branch is currently raising money to build a mosque and full Muslim community centre in the Westshore in the future.