My Favorite Mosque Isn’t In Mecca: The Noor Cultural Centre Of Toronto

“Only a house of worship founded, from the very first day, upon God-consciousness is worthy of thy setting foot therein…” Qur’an, 9:108

I’ve been to mosques in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, Canada, Argentina, Malaysia, and the United States. And I’ve only felt comfortable in a handful the Noor Cultural Centre in Toronto is one of them.

Growing up in upper/middle-class white-suburbia without a mode of transportation, much of my life has been spent looking for a Muslim community I felt comfortable in. In fact, that was the primary purpose of HijabMan when I started it twelve years ago. For the last twelve years (!!!) I have been part of such a community on-line, but its members are spread throughout the world. And in 2004, I finally found them all in one place at the Noor Cultural Centre.

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Solo Trip: Mecca ii

Note: This is the second installment on a series of posts. Read: Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

I woke up around 11:00 o’clock in the morning, after falling asleep while listening to the whir of the air conditioner. Ahmed had woken up prior, and was brushing his chest-length beard. Upon waking, Ahmed produced a whole roasted duck from his suitcase. He mentioned that his mother made it for him, and insisted that I eat part of it. I remember smiling to myself, and picturing the last time I thought about eating a duck. It was while watching a chef, Ming Tsai, on the Food Network separating a duck’s skin from it’s flesh. I ate the duck slowly avoiding the fat.
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Solo Trip: Mecca i

Author’s note: This is the second installment on a series of posts. Read: Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

I had been trying to get an ‘umra (or lesser pilgrimage) visa during the last few months of my stay in Cairo, but nothing materialized. My alternative plan was to see Jerusalem, if I wasn’t able to get to Mecca. Fortunately, my roommate at the time made a contact in the Saudi embassy in Cairo. He asked me to get a certificate from al-Azhar Mosque saying that I was a Muslim and a photocopy of my passport.
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Performing ‘Umra At The Age Of 12

Written At The Age Of 16

The sun is nowhere to be seen, yet there is plenty of light here from the massive artificial lamps. It’s three o’clock in the morning in the Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. I’m barefoot, walking on the hundred acres of marble flooring. It’s hard, as marble should be, but bearable. A stadium-like atmosphere surrounds me. Birds are swooping down from all directions. The Kaaba, the massive cube-shaped building, is always to the left of me as I walk around it. I am stuck in a sea of people circumambulating. We are like the species of penguins that constantly move in a circle to keep warm. The one difference; we are at Mecca praising God.
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