R'11 Day Four: The Dividing Line

As I mentioned in a previous entry, I attended a pre-Ramadan workshop at the Northwest Musallah in the Ranchlands neighbourhood (not that you read EVERY entry I write, but there's no harm in thinking that this IS the case!!). Being the keener I am, I was pretty early, and only another sister and myself were there to start with. We chatted a little about ourselves and then she asked me the question that I knew was coming:

"Where are you from?"

So I explained that I'm a hybrid (i.e. bi-cultural!), and she commented that I looked like a hybrid/didn't look brown, which I swallowed as a compliment and smiled. Her next comment was what caught my ear:

"Oh well, this is known as the brown mosque because mostly brown people come here"

I cringed when I heard this, because from my entries you'll know that cultural dividing lines between Muslims here in Calgary is a sore spot for me. But the sister had a good point, as each time I have attended prayers at the NW Musullah, the population attending IS mostly Pakistani/Desi aka "brown".

And furthermore, when I think about the South West Mosque, the population attending is mostly Arab, and then the North East mosque attached to the Islamic School draws in a diverse crowd. Logically, you can justify this by stating that the neighbourhoods surrounding the mosques most likely consists of a majority of these respective cultures. But I don't really think this is the case. Because when I think back to when the NW Musallah opened, the crowd attending it was much more diverse. It's only been over time that this cultural preference has developed. Also, when I'm out and about in the North West since it's my 'hood, I actually DON'T see that many Pakistanis out and about either, and in fact, see more families who are Arab. This could be coincidence or it could actually be demographically true, I'm not sure.

In all honesty, I completely understand the need for people from a similar culture to want to be together. You have shared ways of life, cultural practices, language, etc etc. But at the same time, a mosque should not be known by the predominant culture of those who worship in it. And what about hybrids such as myself? I don't actually know many others who have a dual background such as myself, but where the heck should we cluster. Or perhaps we have a "free for all" card that allows us to get in and blend in anywhere because we're bi-cultural!

So... maybe I should build a mosque at the EXACT point where North meets South and East meets West and called it a Hybrid Mosque, so that all hybrids have a place to group together! And most likely, whomever I end up marrying will NOT have the same background as I do, so more hybrids (but not too many LOL) will (Inshallah) be springing up all over the place!

So back to my main point. I would really hope that at least during Ramadan, we can just drop these cultural labels and band together as one Ummah. Forget about being Pakistani/Desi, Lebanese or any other ethnicity and just embrace the fact that all over the world, over 1 billion Muslims are following the same rituals and pattern of life during Ramadan. Shouldn't this be enough to cross this arbitrary line we've created?

P.S. Not all Muslims are Arab, but some Arabs are Muslim...Muslim does NOT equal Arab, and being Muslim is NOT contingent on being Arab. More on this later ;)


  1. Agreed. As you rightly said, it is somewhat natural to congregate and group within your own culture. If we consider the relatively short time that muslim families have been present in the west, we can begin to understand why this grouping exists.

    Muslim families have only settled in the west over the last 40-50 years, perhaps even less. Since English was not a first language for the new arrivals, it was only logical to settle into a neighbourhood of fellow countrymen. It is because of this pattern of settlers we now see certain areas populated predominantly with the same ethnic background.

    With the second or third generations of muslims, whose first language is English, we will most certainly notice more diverse and multi ethnic populations of muslims. Inshallah.

    Change is coming! :)

  2. Those are really good points Haris :) I definitely see cultural congregations happening here in Canada, and I know the same is in the UK too. Inshallah with time, I hope change comes too! :)


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