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
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|
|Newfoundland & Labrador|
Online Muslim Communities 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
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
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 Commerce (Online Only)
- AFCAN Multi-Foods (Toronto)
- Aftab Supermarket (Toronto
- Al-Falah Grocery and Halal Meat
- Iqbal Halal Foods (Toronto)
- Meathead Foods Inc.
- 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 (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 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.