It was a Friday. We were in the midst of negotiations with the landlord of the Rhoda, to figure out a way to stay. We loved the space we had been in for three years, and had not only poured our energy, love, and time into making it a sacred space, but had also been given back so much in that space. So much joy, so many moments of connection to the Divine. So many reunions and reconciliations between hearts and their Creator had taken place within these walls. The last thing we wanted was to leave.
That Friday, the landlord had decided to put up ‘for rent’ signs in front of the Rhoda, forcing us to speak publicly to explain what was going on. Shaykh Hamdi explained the situation in the Friday sermon.
After the congregational prayer, Shaykh Hamdi remained in the Rhoda, offering extra prayers and praying about our situation.
A man came up to him, and respectfully spoke. ‘Imam, you are looking for a new building? I have found one that may be right. I will take you now if you want to see it.’
Shaykh Hamdi called some of the members of the board and asked them to join, and they all went to visit this potential new home for the Rhoda.
From the moment I walked in the new building that day, I knew this was it. It just felt perfect, and it was exactly what we wanted. Imagine, it was all laid out in the perfect manner - no major renovations needed. What an answer to a prayer. - Ruwayna Ghanem, Board Member
And it went from there. As our board discussed the new building, we realized that even had we been able to stay in our current building, we would have had to spend as much or more money to fix its many structural issues as we would to buy the new property.
Amazingly, the new Rhoda property features spaces for every program we had envisioned for our long-term growth, including a homeschooling cooperative, room to build seniors’ housing, and space for counselling offices. Over the past three years of serving the community, we have realized that counselling is one of the most needed services, especially counselling that is sensitive to the needs of diverse populations and that takes into account and does not dismiss spirituality and religion as factors of wellness.
We can’t help but think that God is nudging us towards this new step. Without realizing it, we have grown past capacity…In fact, in the past year there have been times when we have had to hold our children’s Quran class (Zidney Ilma School) in the garden, or another class in a home, because a third class was happening at the same time and the Rhoda was needed for that.
The new building will house classes for adults through the Rhoda Institute, a full-time prayer and meditation hall (the Masjid), a homeschooling cooperative for children, and a mentorship program called ‘Find Your Purpose’ for youth.
Additionally, we will be able to continue offering spaces that help us in our mission to forge authentic culture: two halls in the new building can be rented as spaces for private events such as parties and weddings - we believe in the need for wholesome environments to host rites of passage in our lives. A commercial kitchen will allow for food catering opportunities and service to special events. The proximity of the prayer spaces to all these services is key. Everything we do centres around our connection to the Creator, and all of it derives from that central guiding Light.
Most importantly, the new Rhoda Masjid and Spiritual Wellness Centre will feature a wellness centre! This centre will feature wellness services such as counselling as well as complementary health care (naturopathic, holistic) provided by professionals whose vision aligns with that of the Rhoda, respecting the importance of spiritual wellbeing and seeing all forms of wellness as interrelated. Read more about our commitment to becoming a centre of excellence and model for well-being here. As part of our vision of wellness, we will be creating two year-round green spaces as part of the new building - glass-enclosed gardens that allow us to access the beauty of God’s creation even in the dead of winter. These spaces will be for contemplation, meditation, and prayer.
By Spring 2020 we hope to have transformed what is currently a cafe-bookstore, the Lotus Community Corner, into a full-fledged restaurant serving healthy food and providing the perfect location for community bond-building. The nature of the Lotus vibe will attract even more people to the centre and also become a great source of income, taking us closer to becoming self-sustaining.
We are looking forward in Phase 3 of the project to build senior and student housing on the property. This housing will allow for our elders to remain in community, within walking distance of the centre, fully a part of all that is happening at the Rhoda and allowing us to benefit from their presence and wisdom. The Rhoda already receives students from around the world coming to stay and study and we currently have nowhere to house them. They would stay in the same housing units as seniors, in separate bachelor apartments, but in such a way that would allow for the students to make life easier for the seniors by serving them and helping them and being in company. This model is revolutionary and has been tried in several European countries to wonderful effect.
Let’s be clear: this project is ground-breaking. Not only will it be a solid legacy for our children to inherit, with its community-responsive programming and strong spiritual focus, but it will also serve as a viable model and template for a the next generation of sustainable Muslim communities around the world. It’s time!
If you like what you see here, please get in touch with us to find out how you can support what we’re doing. We’re building our shared future. Be part of it.