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Muslim youth lead efforts to keep Edmonton mosque open

Muslim youth lead efforts to keep Edmonton mosque open
WATCH ABOVE: Muslim youth have made a huge impact in their community during the month of Ramadan. Morgan Black shows us how they've come together to save a place of worship.

Muslim youth have made a huge impact in their community during the month of Ramadan, helping an Edmonton mosque keep its doors open.

Sahaba Mosque, also known as the Downtown Islamic Association, ran into funding troubles when mass gathering restrictions due to COVID-19 cut off most community fundraising.

The place of woship has been a big part of the Edmonton area since it opened in 1997. It currently operates two locations.

“Mosques raise about 40 to 80 per cent of… [their] annual revenue during Ramadan, during the large congregation that attends,” said fundraiser organizer Ahmed Ali. “With Ramadan at the mosque being cancelled, so have the fundraising efforts.”

Watch below: It’s a time when the Muslim community joins in celebration, but this year that togetherness is going to look different. Community reporter Morgan Black has more on how those who practise Islam are celebrating Ramadan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Muslim community focused on giving back during Ramadan 2020
Muslim community focused on giving back during Ramadan 2020

Young community members stepped up, using their social media and technology skills to launch a campaign that’s raised more than $55,000 for operating costs in a few weeks.

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“The response we got was overwhelming,” said Ali.

“Within the first 24 hours we raised $16,000, which covers about a month of expenses for the mosque.”

In the video, youth share a quick message, speaking about what the mosque means to them.

Abdishakour Mohamed, the imam of Sahaba Mosque, said the video and the effort displayed from the young people and teens have touched him.

“It was really remarkable. They all co-ordinated this effort,” Mohamed said.

“These youth are busy. They are also fasting during the day and have evening prayers. They still came and stepped up and showed all of this dedication to the mosque. It showed that Sahaba Mosque is really something special in their hearts.”

Mohamed said mosque leaders weren’t sure what to do to keep funding going during the pandemic. The mosque offers a wide range of social and emergency services as well as weekly Islamic programs, many at no cost to the community.

READ MORE: ‘It’s really comforting’: Islamic call to prayer heard for 1st time in Canada amid coronavirus

“We were scratching our heads. We were very happy when we heard the youth had initiated a campaign,” said Mohamed. “We were worried. No one was coming here. We were not familiar with doing campaigns online. It was the first time we were even being active online with lectures.”

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Ali said the mosque has always held a special place for young Muslims.

“Sahaba Mosque is a place where youth ideas are valued and they are celebrated. It’s a community hub. It’s a social net,” said Ali. “They’ve developed a special connection with the mosque.”

Mohamed said that Ramadan has looked very different this year for Muslims across Canada because of COVID-19, but people have kept supporting one another even when they are apart.

“We weren’t sure how it was going to go,” said Mohamed. “But, it was a very unique experience to how the community responded.

“People came and really helped us out when we were struggling. It really made it a very special Ramadan for us and for the whole community.”