How it all started
The Rhoda began in the basement of a rented home. From 2013 to 2015, the Rhoda was a humble room with a makeshift set-up to brew tea in the backroom, and a bookshelf we called our ‘bookstore.’ Here, we hosted our very first Arabic classes, weekly celebrations of Guidance, and scholar visits. Here, Zidney Ilma School of Character for children was born, and the inspiration first came for Letters to the Beloved. We celebrated Eid in the backyard, as well as two weddings. It was the site of many great moments.
Until…Spring 2015, and melting snow!
We came to our beloved prayer space one night to find the floor under a foot of water. It was not the first flood, but it was the worst. This time, we were unable to quell the influx of water, and eventually, mold took hold of rugs, walls, and the undersides of bookshelves.
Suddenly, we had nowhere to serve as the base from which to offer programs the community had come to love.
We had to find a new home! But where?
Little mosque on the hill
There it was, a simple little white building, atop Beacon Hill. This location, found on Kijiji, had been a convenience store for the past twenty years or more.
Amazingly, the zoning allowed for a place of worship. This was more than we had expected – we had been looking to open an educational centre. But now, it was as if God was opening a new door, a new prospect, an invitation. Like He was beckoning us: Come closer, do more. Don’t be afraid.
Certainly, the huge lawn out back was ideal for gatherings: barbecues, youth events, even a community garden perhaps. And yet, we were a bit afraid. Who wouldn’t be? Opening a mosque is a huge undertaking. It means so very much…were we ready?
We began to pray deeply, consulting the Creator about which direction to go in. And the message kept coming: Go ahead.
So one afternoon in August, we sat in the garden of the new location, with the sunlight falling all over us, and signed the lease. And so was born the new Rhoda Masjid and Institute.
And now, the work began. We knew we’d have to lay carpets and paint walls…but….
As the metal shelves of that convenience store were removed, one by one, they revealed a floor that was totally warped. Under that floor was a rotting foundation. And next to that convenience store fridge that had stored cokes and sprites, the wall was barely more than a shack-like edifice. When it rained, the ceiling leaked.
What we had estimated would be a few weeks’ work, had suddenly become months of work. It was enough to make a person question everything. But God kept us steady. In response to our renewed prayers seeking guidance, He gave us all the signs that we must stay the course. The work reached a special height in the days right before the Hajj, a beautiful sign that we were doing the right thing.
Purify My House
As we confronted the challenge of construction, we were blessed to have help pour in from where we least expected. From the very start, a group of Brothers from Toronto joined us. They worked diligently, day and night. On the weekends, more brothers came in from Montreal and other cities in the region, assisting with rebuilding and remodelling. Bit by bit, rotten surfaces were replaced with healthy foundations.
One special brother from Toronto, who came at the beginning of the project, never left til the end. He spent every day from morning to night, quietly working away. That man is forever our example of how to serve God.
We were also blessed to have sisters who regularly cooked to provide warm meals for the brothers working. And we even had neighbours of other faiths and good faith come by and help choose paint for the walls.
One day, in early December, we managed to lay the carpets. That day, a Friday, the Rhoda Masjid and Institute opened its doors to the community for the first time.
What can be said about such an experience with God? You sometimes worry about how it will ever end, and then He gives you more than you ever dreamed of.
Our banner that has welcomed the world since 2013.
donate for a new banner to be hung at our new location!
The story goes on…
It’s three years since the above story was written. Today, we find ourselves once more being handed a challenge by our Lord, and like all challenges, it has in it great gifts. The landlord of the space in which we established our beloved little mosque on the hill wants his property back, and so we are on the move again.
This time, we have found the kind of home we’d probably have moved to a few years from now - it is so perfect, to be honest. It is a solid building with many possibilities for all the projects we currently run and those we have been asked to create to fulfil the needs of our community.
God has brought us to a forever home - a home that is worthy of a House of God. God, Most Generous, is honouring us with a building that says: come and make something of me. Come and serve God here. And again, this situation coincides with the Days of Hajj, which is a celebration of God’s call to Prophet Abraham and Prophet Ismael to re-establish His House on earth as a manifestation of His honouring those who seek Him.
That is what the Rhoda has always been: a response to the needs of those who seek God.
It is for this reason we are calling it the Rhoda Masjid and Spiritual Wellness Centre, and we are looking for partners to provide holistic complementary health services as independent entities, but which contribute to the spirit of what the centre offers. We believe in offering solutions for our time, which definitely include the need for therapy, healing, and sustaining of good health.
We are also planning to build seniors’ housing on the property, to answer the dire need for seniors homes that are appropriate for our elderly population. And how wonderful that they will be right next to the mosque and be able to be part of a thriving community.
Again, we are asking you to recognize the opportunity that lies in making a House of God here on earth. Don’t pass up the chance to be of those who are forever associated with the goodness taking place here at the Rhoda, and through it to the whole world. Be part of this sacred undertaking.