Fort McMurray Muslim Community,Markaz Ul Islam:
Markaz Ul Islam, is a Muslim Congregation established in Fort McMurray , Alberta, Canada in 1983. Markaz Ul Islam is a registered Canadian charitable organization. The current Masjid in downtown Fort McMurray was built in 1989 that can accommodate a maximum of 250 worshippers.
Fort McMurray is situated north of Alberta and is the core town of oil sand Industry. Due to the boom in the oil sand since the year 2000, the Muslim population in Fort McMurray has increased exponentially. Muslims from all over the world – the Middle East, Pakistan, Somalia, Bangladesh, India and other countries from Africa, Asia, Europe, Far East – have come to Fort McMurray to work in the oil sand industry and other sectors of public life including Information Technology, Medicine, Engineering, Accounting & Finance, Private Businesses, transportation and General Service Industries.
The Muslim community of Fort McMurray prides itself on its diversity, unity and generosity. With Allah’s blessing, the vision of the community leaders, and the maturity of the community members, we can proudly say that we all pray in one Masjid, fast Ramadan and celebrate Eids together.
As of 2012, the estimated population of Muslims in Fort McMurray has exceeded 10,000 persons. The current Masjid, which was built by approximately 30 families in 1989, can no longer accommodate our needs. Friday, Eid and Taraweeh prayers cannot be performed in the Masjid due to its limited space. Instead, the community is continuously struggling to rent big halls such as school gyms, hotels and recreation centers to perform these prayers. Many times, halls are not available and we end up praying outdoors or arranging three successive Friday prayers at the current Masjid.
The current Masjid, even during the regular five time prayers, is overflowing. This is resulting in many brothers not attending the Jama’a prayers, the sisters not being able to pray in the Masjid and our youth becoming turned off and shying away from the Masjid.
The community leaders have recognized this growth problem many years ago. Over 7 years ago, we worked relentlessly to find a bigger locale to accommodate our needs, but with no success. In 2007, we joined a multi-faith consortium (Abrams Land) pursuant to acquiring a bigger piece of land for our future Islamic Center.
We purchased 9.5 acres of land for $4.5M, fully funded by our local community members. Land development is more than 90% complete and we are in the process of finalizing engineering drawings for Phase 1 of the multi-complex project. For project details see this Phase 1 of the multi-complex project
We are launching a major fundraising campaign locally, nationally, and internationally to collect $10M Canadian dollars – estimated cost to build Phase 1 – by 2014 Insha Allah. At the first glance, this appears to be a virtually unachievable task, but we are confident and determined that with Allah’s help and the generosity of the local community members and Muslims in general, we will Insha Allah achieve our goals sooner than later.
Although we are in dire need of a new center, the Muslim community of Fort McMurray has successfully tackled many other challenges. Our key achievements can be summarized as follows:
- In 2004, our community bought a church and converted it to an Islamic school. We started with 23 students in KG to grade 2. Today we have closer to 300 students in the Islamic School and offer KG to grade 8. In 2005, we established an alliance with the Public School District under the Alternative program to ensure that our school meets all Alberta Education standards while simultaneously operating it under Islamic guidelines and curriculum. For more detail see FMIS Link
- From 2008 to 2011 we have locally collected approximately $6M, the majority of which was dedicated to the new Islamic Center.
- Even with the limited space available, we were able to provide many services to the Muslim community and to the Fort McMurray community at large i.e., Religious, Dawa, Islamic studies, Youth programs, Halaqas and Sisters’ programs.
- To take the full advantage of our facilities it is important if they are all at one location.
- Established a dedicated section of the Fort McMurray cemetery for Muslims.
- Purchased 9.5 acres of land, currently being developed and serviced.
- Apart from the above, our community has always generously supported other Muslim communities who seek assistance. Since 1996, on an average, we have been donating approximately $200K each year to communities outside of Fort McMurray.