Mosque One is the first-ever documentary on Toronto’s first mosque. It is a window into the first gathering place for Toronto’s early Muslim community, which was an old shop purchased in 1961, located at 3047 Dundas Street West. The Dundas Street Mosque touched the lives of many new Muslim immigrants to Toronto and the Mosque One project hopes to capture the stories of its pioneers and early supporters. Their stories are a powerful corrective to the prevalent image of Muslims as newcomers unable to adjust to the norms and values of Canada.
Mosque One was originally launched in 2009 as a series of short video clips, along with photographic, textual, legal, and scholarly documents that related to the mosque. In 2014, those clips were used to create the documentary below. The Tessellate Institute is presently in development to update all other research documents associated with this project.
Originally from Albania, Bedri spent more than two years in a labour camp before coming to Canada in 1966. When first arriving to Toronto, he joined the small Muslim community and later assumed a board position at the Dundas St. Mosque. He is currently retired after having worked in a glass making factory for 32 years. Bedri has been an active member of the Albanian Muslim Society of Toronto, where he remains today a board member. He has three children and two grandchildren.
Murray was born in Toronto and grew up in Ottawa, earning a BA in English and then a Bachelor of Journalism in 1958 at Carleton University. He married fellow student Alia Rauf and they helped to develop the original Dundas St. Mosque, becoming Secretary for years. Murray worked for the CBC and then attended the University of Toronto to earn a doctorate in history. They then moved to the Kingston area in 1973 where he taught at the Royal Military College and became Secretary of the Islamic Society of Kingston for a while. Murray finally ended up writing for 20 years for the Kingston Whig-Standard. He has volunteered for at least 30 years with a moderate Muslim children’s summer camp, now called Camp Deen. Murray enjoys travelling in Muslim countries, studying a wide range of history, and their grandchildren. They live on a hobby farm near Gananoque.
Alia is the Executive Director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, a national organization founded in 1982. She is a social worker who has worked in direct services such as child welfare, children’s mental health, services for abused women and for adults with developmental handicaps. For over 20 years, she was an Ontario government Program Supervisor overseeing children’s and women’s services in South Eastern Ontario. Alia also taught at a community college for a number of years.
Alia writes a regular column for the Kingston Whig Standard on Islam, Muslims, and women’s issues and is often called upon to speak at local, national, and international conferences and is involved in interfaith and intercultural exchanges. Queen’s University awarded her an honorary doctorate of divinity in 2011 and she was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2012.
DR. FUAD SAHIN
In 1958, Dr. Fuad left his home in Libya for Canada. Originally from Turkey, he landed in Kingston to train as a surgeon and later practiced medicine across northern Ontario before eventually settling in the Niagara region. At that time in 1966, his family were the first Muslims in Niagara. He assumed a leadership position at the Dundas St. Mosque due to his fluency in Arabic and having studied Islam in Syria. Since then, he served as President of the Council of Muslim Communities of Canada and later founded IDRF-International Development and Relief Foundation. Among his proudest achievements is being awarded the Order of Ontario.
Solmaz is originally from Turkey and arrived to Canada with her husband, Dr. Fuad in 1958. She played an integral role within the Dundas St. Mosque community, teaching classes to other women and young girls. She is a past President of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, and now serves as a board member.
Amjad immigrated to Canada in 1965, and worked at Sunnybrook Hospital for 30 years before retiring. He was among the first generation who established the Dundas Street Mosque, and later helped build ISNA Mosque in Mississauga.
Much of Amjad’s volunteer work has been in healthcare, creating programs to educate hospital staff and health care workers on how to provide services to immigrants. He also initiated the ISNA Hospital Visitation Program. Among his many accomplishments was the inclusion of halal meat options for patients in Mississauga hospitals, after years of tireless efforts. Finally, Amjad and his wife volunteer their time to perform the final ablution for deceased Muslims.