Muslim community puts down roots in Chatham

Chatham Islamic Centre. (Photo via Chatham Islamic Centre Facebook page)

The Islamic community in Chatham-Kent has a new permanent home.

The former St. James Presbyterian Church at 310 McNaughton Avenue West in Chatham has been bought and turned into the Chatham Islamic Centre (CIC). The centre officially opened on Tuesday, February 16, 2021. Officials said the Muslim population in Chatham Kent has been on the rise since 2010 and the new mosque is a good fit for the needs of the Muslim community because of its size, location, and accessibility.

The Islamic leadership added it finally found a suitable place for sale after many years of searching for a building they could call their own. They said the idea started in early 2015 at a community gathering.

“Every year, more young Muslim families are moving from bigger cities or overseas to Chatham Kent to enjoy a simple and less hectic lifestyle as well as to raise their families in a very peaceful community,” the centre wrote on its Facebook page. “The Muslim community in Chatham-Kent is very ethnically diverse with families and individuals from several Middle Eastern countries, Pakistan, India, Africa, China, USA, Canada, UK, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, etc. The Muslim community in Chatham-Kent needed an Islamic Centre to connect as a community. The Centre will also aid in preserving our religious and cultural heritages.”

Group leaders said the rise of the number of members of the Muslim community has created a challenge for them and it’s always a struggle to provide their children, youth, women, and seniors a much-needed place to come together and participate in activities that will make them healthy and happy.

The mosque said its purpose is to establish a place of worship and provide a venue to offer Islamic teachings on the basis of Islamic Doctrine and Tenants. The centre was founded in 2016 as a non-profit organization and in 2019 became a registered charitable organization.

“There has been great efforts by many of the CIC members and others in the community to achieve this milestone,” wrote the centre’s leadership. “This is just the beginning of the great future for this organization.”

There are just over 100 Muslim families in the Chatham area and the mosque is looking for public donations to make the $600,000 dream project come true. The group’s GoFundMe page said it’s more than halfway to raising its fundraising goal.