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The Islamic Centre of Yellowknife raised over $210,000 for a new mosque at an Iftar dinner and fundraiser on Friday, says the organization’s chair Nazim Awan.

“Everybody, I believe, felt it was their responsibility and maybe an opportunity to be part of the new masjid, new mosque,” he said. “The masjid will be there the next 50, 75, maybe 100 years. People don’t want to miss it. This is time to be a part (of it).”

“Everyone opened up their hearts,” he added.

Typically, Yellowknife’s Islamic community will invite guests to the iftar dinner, but as the event was a fundraiser, it was decided that only Muslim community members should participate, said Awan.

Roughly 220 members of Yellowknife’s Islamic community attended the dinner. Awan said support is still flowing in from those who were unable to make it.

“We are getting even $2,000, $3,000, $500 (contributions) extra, so the figure is going up,” he said, adding that he thinks the organization will hit its target of $250,000 next week.

Before the fundraiser, the centre had already raised about $150,000 of the roughly $400,000 it needs for a new mosque.

The iftar dinner was held on the 27th night of Ramadan. It is an important date in the Islamic calendar, which marks the night the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

“The mosque is very important to the community,” he said. “There is a belief that (donating) to the mosque is a perpetual good deed.”

The Islamic Centre’s current location is a trailer built in 1967, according to its website. The current structure has seen significant wear over the years and struggles to accommodate the city’s growing Muslim community.

It lacks space to appropriately host community events and religious services. It fits roughly 80 men and 15 to 20 women, with overflow often spilling into the lobby, said Awan.

It was permanently shuttered today and is scheduled to be demolished on June 10.

“We have waited so long, we don’t want to wait anymore,” said Awan.

Dr. Hussain Guisti’s Winnipeg charity the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation – which has built mosques in Inuvik, Whitehorse and Iqaluit – will manage the building project.

At over 7,500 square feet, the new centre will offer Islamic educational programming, a youth area and larger prayer areas for men and women. The organization also expected to offer programming for non-Muslims, including Arabic lessons.

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Nick Pearce

Nick Pearce is a writer and reporter in Yellowknife, looking for unique stories on the environment and people that make up the North. He's a graduate of Queen's University, where he studied Global Development...

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