THE MIDNIGHT SUN MOSQUE, STILL CENTRAL TO INUVIK TOURISM
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By Cori Marshall
Eight years ago WaterToday ran a series of articles on the Midnight Sun Mosque in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. The Mosque has the distinction of being the northernmost Mosque in the world. Built by the Zoubaida Tallab Foundation, the building was transported 4,000 kilometres over land.
What has happened in the seven years since we last reported, how has the Muslim community in Inuvik evolved, and does the structure still attract as much attention as it did?
We caught up with Hussain Guisti of the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation in Winnipeg, the group responsible for make the Midnight Sun Mosque happen.
Guisti reminisced, saying that the project began when "Abdullah Muhammed purchased two lots in Inuvik] for the purpose of building a Mosque, this was back in 2007." He added that the Muslim community in Inuvik numbers "between 80 and 100 and they wanted to build a Mosque, but the cost of building up there is astronomical."
He remembered that the Inuvik Muslim community "reached out to every Muslim Embassy and organization in Canada," they found that no one was able to help them raise funds to build a Mosque.
An executive of the Foundation happened to have a friend who lived in Inuvik, and they brought the information to Guisti. At that point, Guisti said, "the community was praying in a small one-bedroom trailer."
When he began to think about the community in far north, he realized that this may have been his "only chance to create Muslim history." Guisti had started to notice that no other Mosque had even been built this far north.
Guisti recalled that it only took "45 minutes to get the unanimous approval of the board."
When asked about the reaction within the Foundation, and how he felt when the project was completed, he was moved to tears describing his feeling "of elation, we had done something that no other Muslim had done."
Guisti has kept contact with the community in Inuvik over the years and said that "they are still making news." He added that he did not know that "there was a Muslim community in Inuvik prior to this project."
The Mosque has become central to Inuvik tourism, "it is featured in the tourist guide, and there are regular tours," to this day.
Guisti was sure to highlight the efforts of Abdullah Muhammed saying that "the Mosque was not complete when it was shipped, and Abdullah Muhammed took the initiative to complete it by himself." Guisti said that Muhammedís efforts "made the simple Mosque into a real work of art."
Since the Mosque opened, Guisti has received "emails from people asking are there jobs up there." For Muslims, the Mosque has added to the area's pull factors.
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