What it's Like to Be Muslim in Canada

Faith is an important part of many people’s daily lives. It forms part of their identity, who they are at their core. Islam is the second-largest faith in Canada today and the Muslim community in Canada continues to grow every day.

There are currently over 1 million Muslims in Canada, according to world population review, most of whom practice Sunni Islam as well as Shia and Ahmadiyya Islam.

Canada is known to be one of the most welcoming, diverse, and tolerant nations in the world but what is it really like for Muslim expats living and working in Canada?

In this article, we’ll take a look at what it’s really like to live in Canada as a Muslim by sharing three immigrants' personal stories about their experience of moving to Canada as well as how Canada has embraced the Islamic faith.

Life in Canada for Muslims

Silhouette of a mosque in sunset in Toronto | muslims in Canada

Places of Worship in Canada

Canada has over 90 mosques and Islamic centres all across Canada. Here are just some of the places of worship for Muslims in Canada. The biggest mosque, Baitu Nur is an Ahmadiyya mosque is located in Calgary Alberta


Place of Worship for Muslims in Canada
ProvinceMosque/Islamic Centre
Alberta
  • Baitun Nur Mosque
  • Calgary Islamic Centre
  • Al-Rashid Mosque
  • Baitul Hadi Mosque
  • Edson Mosque
British Columbia
  • Bait-ur-Rahman Mosque
Manitoba
  • Ahmadiyya Centre Mosque
Newfoundland & Labrador
  • Masjid-an-Noor
Northwest Territories
  • Inuvik Mosque
Ontario
  • Islamic Society of North America
  • Masjid Noor-Ul-Haram
  • Masjid Vaughan
  • Jame Abu Bakr Siddique
  • Jannatul Ferdous Mosque
  • Ahmadiyya Abode of Peace
  • Bait-ul Kareem Mosque
  • Baitul Mahdi
  • Baitul Islam Mosque
  • Baitul Hamd
  • Bait-ul Ehsaan Mosque
  • Brampton Mosque
  • Hadeeqa-e-Ahmad
  • Malton Mosque
  • Ottawa Mosque
  • Dar As-Sunnah Mosque
  • Islam Care Centre Mosque
  • Ahmadiyya Muslim Mosque
  • Ahmadiyya Muslim Mosque Kanata
  • Assalam Mosque
  • Ottawa Ismaili Mosque
  • BIlal Masjid Mosque
Quebec
  • Al Nusrat Mosque
  • Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City
Saskatchewan
  • Ahmadiyya Muslim Center
  • Darur Rahmat Mosque

Online Muslim Communities in Canada

Smiling young Arabic female wearing a hijab on phone | muslims in Canada

Canada has various online Islamic communities to help provide support and a sense of togetherness. These online communities often arrange various community get-togethers and fundraisers as well as offer useful resources available for Muslim newcomers in Canada. 

Below are a few associations that you can join when moving to Canada.

Islamic Schools in Canada

Religious Asian Muslim Man teaching his little son to pray | Muslims in Canada

Canada has a wide variety of private Islamic schools to enroll your children in. These schools offer a variety of unique features such as providing a strong Islamic education and instilling traditional Islamic beliefs. These schools focus on both secular academics and religious studies giving students a solid foundation in the Muslim religion while teaching subjects such as Math, Science, English, and so on in an engaging manner. Certain schools will focus predominantly on teaching Arabic and Persian. In most Islamic schools children are called to prayer five times a day either at a mosque on school grounds or in school.

Below is a list of some of the private Islamic schools in Canada:

  • Calgary Islamic School
  • Maple Root Academy (Toronto)
  • Al Haadi School (Shia)
  • Al Huda Elementary School
  • Al-Ameen Elementary School (Sunni)
  • GTA Academy (Sunni)

Finding Halal Food in Canada

Muslim women hijab having dinner | muslims in Canada

When moving abroad one of the biggest stresses is whether or not you’ll be able to find items on your shopping list to meet your specific dietary, cultural, and religious requirements. Canada has a wide variety of grocery stores and restaurants to buy and try authentic spices, ingredients, and an array of halal dishes. Even big chain stores such a Walmart, No Frills, and Loblaws stock a wide variety of halal items on their shelves. 

Below is a list of supermarkets and online stores that will cater to your every need to cook up delectable meals that taste like home.

Halal Grocery Stores and Supermarkets

Halal Restaurants

  • Nandos (20 outlets)
  • Basha (20 outlets)
  • Osmow’s (11 Outlets)
  • Lazeez Shawarma (11 Outlets)
  • Babaz (7 outlets)
  • Ali Babas (6 Outlets)

Stories from Islamic Canadians

Khabat Alissa | Muslims in CanadaSource:Canada.ca #immigrationmatters

Khabat Alissa

Khabat Alissa (Issa) comes from a tailoring background in Syria. He immigrated to Canada with his family to live and work in Nova Scotia in 2016, where he worked with his cousin in a tailor shop in Bridgewater. After just three years, he was able to open his own shop in Enfield with the help and support of his cousin and community.

When COVID-19 hit, Issa decided that he wanted to help his community the best way that he knew how. He started sewing and donating face masks to local essential workers including firefighters, paramedics, and first responders as well as anyone else in need. He also made personal deliveries to senior’s homes to help those most vulnerable keep safe amidst the pandemic.

Soon he found himself having to try to keep up with orders from all across Nova Scotia and found himself making up to 100 masks a day and has since donated more than 3,000 masks.

Nora El Najjar

Nora El Najjar, a Lebanese-Canadian author, survived the Lebanese Civil War as well as many tragic family losses and the destruction of her home. She says that three things helped her persevere and survive, one of which was her dream of returning to live in Canada.

El Najjar lived briefly in British Columbia, Canada as a young girl. Her recently published memoir, Life of a Promise, tells the story of how she returned to Canada, the country she loved. She says she, “loved the beautiful scenery of BC, the kindness of people and above all, freedom”.

After returning to Lebanon with her family she vowed that she would one day find her way back, and she did.

El Najjar moved to Canada in 2013 and has been participating in volunteer work to help the community that she loves. Although she will always hold Lebanon in her heart as her place of birth she has found her new home in Canada.

“To all those seeking new adventures, opportunities, or following their dreams like I did, Canada will be a welcoming home. All immigrants have their own story to tell, they can either write it down or be that story as they live it,” - Nora El Najjar.

Pacinthe Mattar

Pacinthe Mattar fondly remembers going to the mosque with her father in Canada. She arrived in Canada from Egypt when she was just five years old. Mattar now works as a journalist in Toronto.

”I don't talk about my faith much, but anyone who knows me knows my Islam is a deep, complicated, intimate part of me. My life is one that mainstream coverage of Islam will say doesn't exist for Muslim people, especially women: I live joyfully alone, unmarried, in downtown Toronto, my days and nights bursting at the seams with live shows, parties, ball games, lectures and readings, and a beautiful tribe of people who understand me. I'm not defying stereotypes. I just exist. I don't pray or go to mosque as much as I did when I lived with my parents, but in times of extreme gratitude, joy, pain, or loss, I'll say "Alhamdulillah" to myself, out loud, still thanking God for all of it—another lesson from my dad.” - Pacinthe Mattar

Making the Move to Canada

Moving to a new country is difficult enough. Adjusting to a new way of life while wondering whether or not you will be accepted based on your faith or belief shouldn’t have to be an added stress. Canada is one of the most multicultural and welcoming countries in the world. You and your loved ones don’t have to abandon your Islamic identity to live in Canada. 

There are thousands of Muslims in Canada from all over the world. Find out how we can help you join them.