Halifax, Nova Scotia
Distance from Charlottetown: 326 KM (approximately 4 hours)
Distance from Cape Breton: 364 KM (approximately 4.5 hours)
Sparkling water, a thriving downtown, a working port and harbour traffic combine to make Halifax both a picturesque destination – and one of Nova Scotia’s most visited locations.
With the sparkling ocean and a working port as a backdrop, it’s no wonder that Halifax is home to countless large and smaller world-class events each year. From community walks to Nocturne Halifax: Art at Night to international Tall Ships' visits, Halifax is a vibrant event city. There are endless activities and things to do in Halifax.
Spend time at the Halifax Seaport where you’ll find galleries, shops, a national museum, and North America’s oldest farmers’ market.
Stroll along the Waterfront and make stops at Bishop’s Landing, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and Historic Properties.
Investigate your family roots during a visit to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Over 1.5 million immigrants, war brides, displaced people, evacuee children and Canadian military personnel passed through this famous building between 1928 and 1971.
Follow the coastal roads to Peggy’s Cove where you can climb the rocks, explore the village, and take pictures of the iconic lighthouse and the Fishermen’s Monument.
Take a self-guided Cultural Walking Tour or walk the trails that run through Point Pleasant Park. You will find panoramic views of the Halifax Harbour and Northwest Arm as well as interesting memorials, monuments, and the Prince of Wales Tower.
Beachcomb or ride the waves at Crystal Crescent or Lawrencetown beach.
From the 78th Highlanders to the boom of the noon gun, experience the living history that will surround you at the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site. Constructed between 1828 and 1856, Halifax Citadel National Historic Site is a star-shaped naval station sitting on top of a hill in the heart of downtown Halifax. It is a living Halifax history museum where a costumed animator will take you on a guided tour of musket galleries, garrison cells and more!
Visit the world’s largest Titanic Grave Site at Fairview Lawn Cemetery, and reflect on this tragic event at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
For more information about Halifax and to learn more about the Muslim community, please click the above links.
Islamic Association of Nova Scotia
Islamic Association of Nova Scotia (IANS)
42 Leaman Drive, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia B3A 2K9
Secretary: (902) 469-9490
The Islamic Association of Nova Scotia (IANS) is one of the oldest Muslim organizations in Canada. It was formerly known as the Islamic Association of the Maritime Provinces of Canada (IAMP). The origins of its establishment were in 1966 when a Memorandum of Association was signed on December 26, 1966 by the following six newly arrived Muslim immigrants to Nova Scotia:
Dr. U.S. Merdsoy, PhD, President; Dr. V. Ketene, MD, Secretary; Dr. K. S. Hoque, MD, Director; Dr. Khalid Hameed, MD, Director; Dr. Fazlur Rahman, MD, Director; Dr. Faiz A. Choudhari, MD, Director
The Memorandum of the Islamic Association of the Maritime Provinces of Canada was officially registered with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies of Nova Scotia on January 03, 1967 and the aforesaid six individuals thus became the founding fathers of the first legally registered Islamic organization in the Maritime provinces of Canada.
The official location of the newly formed Association was at 78 Crichton Avenue, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, the home of Dr. Merdsoy, the founding President. During the early part of 1967, the members of this infant organization got together for weekly prayers only on Sundays. These gatherings were very small and were usually held in the homes of the founding members. The total number of Muslim families then living in the Halifax area was only a few dozen.
The years following 1967 saw a significant growth in the number of immigrants especially from the Indian sub-continent. Most of these newcomers were professionals including doctors, engineers, university professors and school teachers. By 1968 the number of Muslims in the Halifax-Dartmouth area grew so large that it was no longer possible to hold prayer congregations in anyone's home.
Around 1969, arrangements were made by the IAMP to hold its weekly Sunday noon (Dhur) prayers at St. Andrews United Church, located at the corner of Robie Street and Coburg Road in Halifax. Each week, members of the IAMP would bring in the prayer mats and clean sheets to cover the wooden floor of the church gymnasium where they would offer the Dhur prayers. This was usually followed by a brief talk on any Islamic topic and the program used to conclude with a cup of tea and snacks in the church kitchen. The number of people attending the Sunday program which ran for about an hour was approximately 30 individuals. For larger annual gatherings such as Eid prayers, the IAMP used to rent small community halls such as the one on top of the fire station across the Nova Scotia Hospital on Pleasant Street in Dartmouth.
From the very inception of the IAMP the members of the Muslim community felt the pressing need for a place of their own. The initiative to achieve this goal was taken by the following two members, who jointly bought a double-lot land in Dartmouth on February 7 1968: Dr. Nejat Coskun, MD and his wife Selma and Dr. Khalid Hameed, MD and his wife Carol. This watershed lot with the beautiful Albro Lake at the rear was located in a new subdivision that was being developed at that time in Dartmouth. The City assigned the civic number of 42 Leaman Drive for this piece of land, which was then transferred by the aforesaid original buyers to the IAMP on March 26,1969.
After the land transfer to IAMP, the members of the Association proceeded to have building plans for the construction of an Islamic Centre. The plan included a mosque (with a dome and minaret) and a multi-purpose community hall. However, when the architect completed the plan, the price tag for its construction was found to be too far in excess of what the small community could afford. Also, since Islam forbids taking or giving interest in any form, the proposed building could not be financed through any conventional bank borrowing or mortgage.
In 1971, it was decided to build a scaled-down version of the building which would be functional enough to provide a good size prayer area, plus a couple of class rooms for Sunday school, an office with a library and a kitchenette in the foyer. The basement was to be finished in later years. A young immigrant named Hisham Slim, a Professional Engineer, prepared a new modified plan.
A Building Permit #71-454 dated July 07, 1971 was issued by the city of Dartmouth authorizing the construction of the Islamic Centre on the lot. The following three members of the Executive of the IAMP, elected for the year 1971, faced the challenge to have the building constructed and completed in time for the up coming Eid prayers in the fall of 1971: Dr. Siraj Ahmad, MD, Mr. Syed M. Ali, P. Eng. and Mr.Hisham Slim, P. Eng.
The estimated cost of the 35 X 48 feet building was $25,000 CAN. With the immense volunteer support of the members of IAMP, including some very good friends of the Muslim community, the building was completed within budget. One person whose friendship knew no religious barriers deserves mention: the late Jagdish Kumar Sinha. He was a new immigrant who had come to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, from Patna, India, in 1970. He volunteered, and, in fact did most of the outside painting of the newly finished building in the chilly fall weather of 1971, including the hazardous upper reaches of the two-storey structure. By virtually racing against time, the first Eid prayers in a newly constructed Mosque of their own, at 42 Leaman Drive in Dartmouth, were offered in late fall of 1971. It is believed that the Dartmouth Mosque is one of the first, if not the first, original mosque in Canada to be built from scratch on an undeveloped piece of land originally owned by Muslims.
After the IAMP had the new mosque completed, the once-a-week program of Sunday Duhr prayers were expanded to include various other religious and social activities for the growing needs of the Muslim community. These included regular Sunday Islamic School for the children, weekly lectures and talks on Islamic topics, potluck dinners, backyard picnics on the lake, boating in summer and skating on the lake during the winter months. In the early 1970s, the IAMP became much more formally organized and functional, publishing its own monthly Newsletter, providing assistance for halal meat and poultry, designating an Imam to perform marriage ceremonies and funeral services etc. Dr. Jamal Badawi, a professor at Saint Mary's University in Halifax was appointed the first Imam of the IAMP. Since then, he has painstakingly been performing the duties and responsibilities in his voluntary capacity.
The IAMP did not lose sight of the inevitable destiny of every living being (death). Luckily, there was already a small Syrian Muslim cemetery, which was established in May 1944 and was located on Bible Hill Road in Truro, Nova Scotia a distance of about 100 km from Halifax. The cemetery was owned and maintained by the Muslim settlers who had immigrated from Syria/Lebanon and settled around Truro/NewGlasgow/Pictou area in the early part of the twentieth century. The second generation Muslims of these settlers became members of the IAMP. They took an active role in making the IAMP the mother organization for Muslims, including those of Middle Eastern descent, who were already settled throughout little communities' in Nova Scotia. It was through their initiative and cooperation that in the years 1968 through 1970, the IAMP was able to buy additional parcels of land around the existing Syrian Muslim cemetery in Truro, which was running out of space. Thereafter, in 1971, the IAMP built another small mosque in Truro on the newly acquired parcel of land, which was contiguous to the existing cemetery, so the funeral prayers and other religious activities could be undertaken there.
One of the other main focuses of the IAMP was to ensure that the Muslim children did not lose Islamic values. With this goal in mind, the weekly Sunday school was established immediately after building the Mosque in 1971. Even though there were only two small rooms on the second floor to serve as classrooms, dedicated members of the IAMP volunteered their time and effort to teach the young children the basics of Islam. To provide more room for Sunday school and other larger social events, the basement of the Mosque was finished in 1973. Arif Husain, a Professional Engineer took the initiative in designing and getting the basement project fully completed under his supervision.
With the passage of time, the Muslim community grew up and by the early 1980s it was felt that the once-a-week Sunday school was not enough to provide the much-needed Islamic foundation to the Muslim children. Hence, in 1984, a full time Halifax-Dartmouth Islamic School was formally established and registered with the Nova Scotia Department of Education. The school started its operation at the Dartmouth Mosque and in the initial years could only offer classes up to Grade 2. Volunteers who in some cases were trained teachers licensed by the Nova Scotia Department of Education, provided the education.
The next major addition to the Dartmouth Mosque was undertaken and donated in 1986 by Dr. K. Shamsul Hoque, one of the founding members of the IAMP. With the city of Dartmouth Building Permit #86-782 dated June 26, 1986, the prayer area of the Mosque was extended by an additional third. New plush quality carpeting was also installed in the entire area.
In the 1990s, Canada opened its immigration doors to entrepreneurs. With the upheaval caused by the Gulf war, a large number of Arabic speaking Muslim immigrants arrived in Nova Scotia. The need to expand the Islamic School grew very critically. By 1996, the full-time Islamic School (still housed in the Dartmouth Mosque) was hosting classes up to Grade 6. However, because of the space limitations, the total number of students could not be increased beyond 30. In 1996, the IAMP was able to lease from the City of Halifax a much larger school building located at 6199 and 6225 Chebucto Road in Halifax to cater for the pressing needs of the fast growing Muslim community. The lease agreement had an option for the IAMP to buy this building later on, if required.
With the leasing of the Chebucto Road building in 1996, the school enrolment immediately increased to over 70 students and the Islamic School was able to accept students up to Grade 9. In order to give more autonomy and to achieve better efficiency the structure and name of the Islamic School was changed to Maritime Muslim Academy (MMA) in 1998/1999. A full-time principal was also appointed to administer the affairs of the school in a more formal and efficient manner. By 1999, the student enrolment at the MMA had increased to over 110 students and even the Chebucto Road building appeared small for the number of students enrolled.
Recognizing the need for further growth, the MMA was successful in working out a deal with the City of Halifax to buy not only the first Chebucto Road building but also to buy a second building located close to the first one. In February 2000, this landmark purchase of the two buildings located in the heart of Halifax had opened up new vistas for providing the much-needed services to the Muslim community. Plans are currently underway to determine the most cost effective means that would maximize the use of the two newly bought buildings to provide not only a fully developed Islamic High School with a science laboratory, gymnasium, canteen etc. but to make available to the Muslim community a much larger Mosque and a community center.
A major expansion of the Dartmouth mosque was done in 2005 with addition of a dedicated prayer area and a multi-purpose hall for ladies. New washrooms, wudu (ablution) areas and a large parking lot were also constructed. An extra piece of land was also purchased to expand the cemetery in Truro.
Ummah Masjid and Community Center
Ummah Masjid and Community Center
2510 St. Mathias Street, Halifax,Nova Scotia B3L 0A9
Management: (902) 407-1411
During the 1990's the Muslim community in Halifax grew rapidly and exceeded 10,000 Muslims due to influx of new immigrants mostly from the Middle East region following the first gulf war. During that time, the Maritime Muslim Academy (used to be called Halifax/Dartmouth Islamic School) was using the Dartmouth mosque for its classes. Due to the progressively increasing number of Muslims, Dartmouth mosque became insufficient to accommodate school students. Furthermore, a large number of Muslims who worked in Halifax found it difficult to commute to Dartmouth during lunch hour to perform Friday prayers at Dartmouth Mosque. Therefore, Dalhousie Student Union Building (SUB) was used for the weekly Friday congregation to allow students and those who work in the Halifax area to perform their Friday prayers easier.
The Maritime Muslim Academy (MMA) with the help of the executive of the Islamic Association of Nova Scotia started searching for suitable space in Halifax that is capable of accommodating the Islamic School as well as the weekly Friday congregation. There were several unsuccessful attempts to purchase property in Halifax until 1996 when the City of Halifax advertised the Chebucto schools for sale. There were only three bids for the purchase of these schools, which came from the African Canadian community, Aboriginal community and the Halifax Muslim Community. The City was not satisfied with the limited number of bids and consequently it was dropped. However, the Islamic Association of Nova Scotia was able to reach a deal that allowed MMA to use one of the school buildings (Building C) as “lease to buy” without specific details or time frame.
In the spring of 1996, the Muslim Academy moved to the upper level of the school building “C”, while the basement was dedicated to be used as a prayer hall (Masjid) for the five daily prayers as well as for the Friday congregation. Meanwhile, the MMA board kept pursuing the city of Halifax officials to sell the property and honour their “lease to buy” deal. Consequently, in 1998 the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) offered the selling of all 3 school properties. Only Maritime Muslim Academy and Maritime Conservatory of Music were allowed to bid by submitting proposals to buy all 3 school buildings. However, MMA and the music conservatory reached mutual agreement and decided to split the deal and submit one joint proposal to buy the property. They were able to convince HRM to accept this joint proposal instead of 2 separate proposals competing to buy all 3 buildings. After lengthy negotiation, it was agreed that MMA would buy the 2 school building known as building “B” and building “C” at a cost of $157,500 and the music conservatory to buy the heritage school Building known as Building “A”.
While MMA was conducting fundraising to collect the purchase price for the property, a member of the Saudi Arabia Royal Family died on the Swiss Air flight 111 that crashed on September 2nd, 1998, into the Atlantic Ocean near the Canadian coast line of Peggy’s Cove not too far from Halifax (southwest of Halifax at the entrance to St. Margaret’s Bay). Consequently, the family of the deceased Saudi prince donated the property purchase price to MMA as a “continuous charity” (Sadaqah) to bring mercy on the late prince. The MMA deal of purchasing two School buildings was finalized and the deal was closed in December 1999.
Following completing the purchase, in January 2000, MMA board of directors appointed a “Building Committee”, which was composed of representative members of the diverse Muslim community in this region with a mandate to help MMA decide on the best uses of the two newly purchased properties. This is to ensure that these properties serve the entire Muslim community in this region in the most possible efficient ways. The building committee spent 4 months of meetings, deliberation and consultation with experts in assessing building structural condition.
In April 2000, the committee concluded that the school classrooms should stay in building “C” and to move science lab, library, computer and arts lab to the upper level of the other building. Furthermore, the committee recommended a plan of 2 terms for having a new Masjid. The long term plan was to demolish building B due to the poor conditions of the structure and to rebuild a new structure. It was strongly recommended that the new building should accommodate a large Masjid as well as other facilities such as gymnasium, classrooms and space for labs to serve MMA needs and to be a community centre for the HRM Muslims. Nonetheless, the short-term plan was to use the basement of building B as a prayer hall (Masjid) with minimum alterations to minimize expenses and to keep using it until the community is ready to carry out the long-term plan.
In 2001, an HRM inspector visited the school while installing a new fence around its property and he stopped the fencing work. The inspector alleged that all 3 school buildings on the site are designated as "Municipal Heritage” and MMA can’t make such changes for this reason. It took MMA 4 consecutive years of continuous hard work attempting to prove to the municipality officials that MMA buildings (B & C) were not included in the heritage designation of the other building A. In May 2005, HRM consent and concluded that the buildings (B & C) were not heritage, which removed a major obstacle that was in the way of proceeding towards a new Masjid. Subsequently, MMA started the search process for a suitable and acceptable Masjid design.
The first acquired three design attempts that were obtained for the new mosque were not favourably approved by the Muslim community. However, the fourth design that was brought forward by the Imam and a community member portrayed a modern Masjid that has additional facilities including a multi-purpose hall/community centre and was favourably and unanimously approved by the Muslim community. One of the major features of the new design was that the building was inviting/welcoming in appearance and blended very well with the surroundings of other existing structures. This was to bring harmony and preserve the outside appearance for heritage building A. The New building committee and Technical committee were involved in the construction of the new building, which worked together very well with substantial autonomy overseeing the multiple construction phases.
The initial building construction permit was obtained in November 2007 and the old building structure was demolished in April 2008. However, the actual construction started by excavating the building foundation in July 2008. The prayer hall was substantially completed and opened for use by the community with a partial occupancy permit on August 1st, 2011 for the first day of Ramadan. Currently, the Ummah Masjid is in the final stage of completing the construction process. The final full occupancy permit was provided by the HRM in May 2013.